Feature Week 25: Musicians
We are pleased to feature some of our musically inclined ambassadors during week 25 of the National Year of Reading: concert pianist Anna Goldsworthy; and Dave Bailiht and Kate Jarvis who perform together as the Giggly Kids.
Anna was born in Adelaide, the child of doctor parents. Her father Peter is also an author and fellow National Year of Reading ambassador. At six year of age, Anna began learning to play the piano, and a few years later was accepted at the Elder Conservatorium. She studied with renowned Russian pianist, Eleonora Sivan. When she was just 17, Anna entered her first international piano competition, held in Italy, and unfortunately was eliminated in the first round. Anna has come a long way since this formative experience, and today she is an accomplished classical pianist and author of 'Piano lessons', a biography about her own musical journey.
Anna currently teaches piano at the University of Melbourne, where she is Artist-in-Residence at Janet Clarke Hall. She performs regularly in Australia and internationally as a piano soloist and chamber musician, and is a founding member of the Seraphim Trio, which has performed throughout Asia and Europe, and appears regularly in Australia for Musica Viva and at regional music festivals. In addition to all this, Anna is the Artistic Director of the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival. She certainly keeps herself busy.
If you'd like to find out a bit more about Anna, listen to the following July 2011 interview on ABC Local Radio Conversations program with Richard Fidler. In the interview, Anna confesses to the influence that 'Young Talent Time' had on her musical career!
Anna has written for several publications including: Best Australian Essays, The Monthly, The Australian, The Australian Book Review and The Australian Literary Review.
'Piano lessons', Anna's musical memoir was released in 2009, and shortlisted for numerous awards in Australia, winning the Australian Book Industry 'Newcomer of the Year' award in 2010. It is Anna's story of her musical life, from childhood piano lessons to international recognition as a concert pianist. The work is a tribute to Eleonora Sivan, her childhood piano teacher.
Anna and the theatre
'Maestro' is a play Anna co-wrote with her father, Peter Goldsworthy, for the State Theatre of South Australia based on Peter's novel of the same name.
Anna adapted her book, 'Piano lessons' into a stage play for the Queensland Music Festival, and it was nominated as 'Best New Play' for the Queensland based Matilda Awards.
In the following clip, Anna talks about the play, and we see some short excerpts:
A recording of Anna playing the music that features in 'Piano lessons' has also been released on the ABC Classics label, including Chopin, Bach, and Mozart favourites.
In 2012, Anna and the other members of the Seraphim Trio released their latest CD Schubert's Trout Quintet through ABC Classics.
Anna's thoughts on reading
Reading is essential to my life, and informs everything I do even as musician and festival director.
During my feature week, I will be launching the 2012 Port Fairy Spring Music Festival. In this year's festival we investigate the intersections between music and literature, with a 'lieder-opera' celebrating the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson; readings from the wise words of the great cellist Pablo Casals; and a recital combining some of the great nature poets with music redolent of gardens.
Anna's reading habits
- Print books, ereader or both? Always print books until this year. When I first tried reading from my iPad, the words didn't seem to stick - they felt too transient, somehow. But it has been wonderful company while I've been breastfeeding, and is starting to feel like a legitimate alternative.
- Do you have lots of books on the go at once, or just one? Usually a book in every room of the house.
- Do your ever cheat and read the end of the book first? My grandmother has always done this religiously, to the extent that various (malicious) family members have torn out the final pages and kept them for safe-keeping before giving her books. I am often tempted, but it does feel like cheating. Only in truly desperate situations, where the stakes are too high to cope with, do I allow myself this guilty indulgence.
- At what point do you give up on a book? I am too tenacious a reader, and usually keep on reading, hoping a bad book might redeem itself. It's a bad habit, because it reduces the number of wonderful books available over a life-time.
- Do you remember learning to read? Yes - my saint of a kindergarten teacher, the late Gwenda Hackett, allowed me to skip afternoon sleep at kindy, drawing up flashcards for me to form into sentences. My parents joined in, and I spent hours intoxicated by the magic of words (or perhaps the fumes of the black markers). I can still remember that wonderful alchemy, of those random shapes on the page giving way to meaning, and my first sentences emerging on those cards.
- What's the first book you can remember reading or having read to you? My parents loved the Little Golden Books. 'The poky little puppy' was a great favourite of my father's from his own childhood, while my mother delivered many resonant renditions of 'The tawny scrawny lion'.
- Was your family a reading family? Very much so. My father is a writer, and his study was lined with bookshelves (originally constructed from planks of wood supported by bricks). Books were, literally, part of the furniture.
- Do you have a favourite book from your childhood? I fell in love with Enid Blyton early. I can still remember that miracle - I plucked one of my mother's old books off a book shelf while playing with a friend, thinking it was a grown-up book, opened it to the middle, and was sucked into this parallel universe. It was 'The magic faraway tree', and when I got to the end I went back and read from the beginning, my friend and games long forgotten...
- Where do you read? There's something wonderfully decadent about reading in the bath, though it takes a terrible toll on your books and is even less viable with an e-reader.
- Where's the strangest place you have ever read? As a teenager, I would often read while walking down the street, desperate not to miss a moment of possible reading time.
Anna's favourite reads
- 'In search of lost time', by Marcel Proust, because he can do everything (or everything that counts): psychology, poetry, comedy, philosophy, inner worlds, outer worlds, painstaking excavations of consciousness.
- 'The children's Bach', by Helen Garner. I love Helen's writing for its candour, its detail, its psychological insight.
- 'Maestro', by Peter Goldsworthy. This was a huge book in my upbringing, inspired by my piano teacher, Eleonora Sivan, and I felt I lived every word as he was writing it.
Want to know more?
- To read more about Anna or connect with her, take a look at her website, twitter and facebook pages:
- Select the following link to read about the Giggly Kids, our other featured ambassador for week 25:
- If you want to see the other National Year of Reading ambassadors, go to our ambassadors page.
- Other featured ambassadors can be found on the ambassador feature week listing.