Parallel Approaches: an interview with Lizzy Welsh

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Jodie Rottle had a quick chat to guest violinist Lizzy Welsh before rehearsals for Vortex Temporum next week. Buy tickets for the concert at this link. Friday, November 27th, 8pm at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.

Jodie Rottle: Thank you for joining us for this concert, Lizzy! This year I have had the pleasure of bumping in to you around the country in Brisbane, Bendigo and Sydney. Can you tell our readers about your life as an Australian performer? Where are you based, and what have been your highlights in 2015?

Lizzy Welsh: Thanks for having me, Jodie! It's been swell getting to know you this year and I'm thrilled to join you and Kupka's Piano next week. I'm currently based between Melbourne and Brisbane and 2015 has been a very full year so far packed with lots of different musics in Australia, Europe and Asia. I've been very lucky to have had so many incredible performances this year, it's tricky to pick out the highlights. I have to mention the many fantastic festivals including the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, Shanghai New Music Week, Wangaratta Jazz Festival, Supersense Festival of the Ecstatic- these have all been highlights not just because of the great music I got to play, but also the great music I got to see performed by my excellent colleagues. The world premiere performance of Nyilipidgi with the Monash Art Ensemble at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival was another very special project that deserves a mention.

JR: You are a specialist of baroque and contemporary music. What similarities and differences do you identify with these two genres? 

LW: This fascination with the opposite ends of the spectrum of violin music has had me hooked since I was a child and has led me to my post-graduate research at the Queensland Conservatorium where I'm currently studying extended approaches to the baroque violin in the 21st Century. It seems natural to me that a violinist would be obsessed with sounds that are new for the instrument now and sounds that were new when the violin itself was new at the dawn of the baroque era. I can't help seeing many parallel approaches between composers/improvisors now and the first composer/violinists of the early 17th Century, both driven by a desire for something new and neither hindered by preconceived ideas of how the instrument should sound. There are obvious differences in available technologies and experiences between violinists at these two different moments in history, but, in my mind, the similarities are much more significant.

JR: We will be performing Gerard Grisey's seminal "Vortex Temporum I, II, II" next Friday, which has a total performance time exceeding 40 minutes. How do you prepare for a work of this magnitude, and do you notice any similarities between "Vortex Temporum" and other compositions by Grisey, such as his work "Talea"? 

LW: Vortex Temporum is one of the most significant pieces of chamber music from the late 20th Century and I'm stoked to have the chance to play it with Kupka's Piano next week. Obviously a 40-minute-long spectral masterpiece involves a huge amount of preparation and study before rehearsals even start, so I've been in a Vortex Temporum-vortex for the last couple of months. Apart from all the practice getting the notes into my brain and my body, I'm making sure I exercise lots. I've been lucky to have a lot of extremely valuable experience with Grisey's language having the opportunity to perform his shorter Talea twice this year.

JR: Have you heard any great new music lately that you can recommend to our Brisbane audiences? What are you listening to at the moment?

LW: At the moment I'm listening to lots of crazy early music by Pandolfi Mealli, Farina and Muffat, electronica by Laurel Halo, John Zorn string quartets, new Icelandic composers recorded by Nordic Affect on their new album Clockworking, the list could go on for days.....