I’ve never really had a career masterplan, but I’ve always had dreams and within those dreams, goals seem to emerge with the passing of time. When I came back from studying in Holland in the late 1980s, many people told me that I would never make a career as a professional viola da gambist in Australia and they were right to give that advice. It simply does not make sense! But being an artist or a musician is not about rational choices. It’s about following your calling, or intuition; it’s about doing what you think is right at the time and always heading towards a new horizon.
Back in 2000, for example, I knew I had to take the step of starting my own group, the ensemble which became The Marais Project. This was a big decision for me and I balked at it: I lacked the confidence and experience at one level, but on another, I was compelled to put myself on the line, sometimes with mixed results!
Similarly, with recording. I had no idea how to make a CD but several years ago we rehearsed up some repertoire, hired a sound engineer, found a designer for the booklet and released “Viol Dreaming”, now known as CD one. "Viol Dreaming" set a pattern which we have continued to follow: the idea of a recording as storytelling, of taking the listener on a journey, of placing traditional French baroque repertoire alongside new, Australian works, of musical humour coexisting with high baroque seriousness. Our last CD did, after all, include a song by ABBA in high baroque-style!
“Spinning Forth” is our sixth release. It too is a mix of core French repertoire for the viola da gamba and two new works by Paul Cutlan and Llew and Mara Kiek. I am incredibly happy with the result and feel it represents where we are as a group and what we stand for as artists.
Music-making for me is all about community and friendship. Over the years I’ve continued to work with lutenist, Tommie Andersson, fellow viola da gambist, Cathy Upex and singer Lindy Montgomery. Producer Llew Kiek and sound engineer, Chris Doherty, have been with us since CD number two. We know each other’s strengths and play to them. Over recent years, and on Spinning Forth, new musicians have come into the circle including tenor, Koen van Stade, composer Paul Cutlan, Baroque flautist, Mikaela Oberg and violinist, Matthew Bruce. Being a community is about ensuring that each artistic personality comes through and that every collaborator has an opportunity to shine and do interesting things.
Now Spinning Forth is “out there” it takes on a life of its own. It was once just the inkling of an idea, a twinkle in the eye so to speak. Now the baby has grown into a young adult and left home. My hope is that people will enjoy the music we love! I also hope that listeners come to know a little better the instrument that has taught me so much about what it is to be a musician and a human being: the viola da gamba.
Win a copy of Spinning Forth!