The Versatile Violinist
"...it's all about finding the 'voice' of the ensemble...those moments when everyone finds that voice together are magic...”
Where did you grow up?
Where did you study and with whom?
Melbourne: Joan Wallwork, Marie Scott, Mary Nemmet, Spiros Rantos, Bill Hennessy. In the US with the Emerson Quartet and Vermeer Quartet. International study as part of the Flinders Quartet with Gabor Takacs-Nagy, David Takeno, Lorand Fenyves, Geoff Nuttall, Menahem Pressler.
Do you have a secret or not so secret hobby?
I had many before my 2 small people, not so much right now!
Our violinist Erica Kennedy shares her story and insight on performing...
What drew you to the violin and what makes it special to you?
My mum taught the flute and took me along to the house of one of her students. This student’s mum was a violin teacher and I listened to her playing with her daughter before the flute lesson. I was five years old and had already started on the piano but was drawn to the violin straight away. I started lessons the next week. This was before I realised that I came from a long family lineage of string players!
I’m drawn to the enormous range of colour and expression that string instruments can express. From the ethereal tenderness to the magnificent richness that resonates right through you. It’s such a wonderfully versatile instrument. There is so much repertoire, so many ensemble opportunities, we are spoilt for choice.
Leading an orchestra or chamber ensemble can be a demanding role, can you give us an insight into some of the challenges and rewards of such a task?
It’s all about finding the “voice” of the ensemble, whether that be 60 players or 3. Rather than ‘leading’, it’s more about coordinating and encouraging everyone to contribute to that voice and it’s intention, whether it be in a soloistic or more accompanying role. Those moments when everyone finds that voice together are magic.
Greatest chamber works that involve your instrument?
So many!! Having spent a large part of my life playing string quartets, my all time chamber music greats list includes many of them…. the mid to late Beethoven String Quartets, the Great Schubert String Quartets and the String Quintet, Shostakovich String Quartet #8 and #10, Ravel, Debussy, the Bartoks. Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht for string sextet and string orchestra, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak string serenades. Adding some other instruments: Brahms clarinet quintet, Dvorak piano quintet.
What makes performing music important to you?
It transcends all. Being deeply immersed in music, whether it be playing or listening, takes you to your own essence. Performing enables you to communicate and journey with your colleagues and your audience in this way, a raw sensory experience untouched by pretense.