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Shirley

Shirley APTHORP

Year of Award: 1994 Award State: Tasmania Arts - Performing > Music
The Peter Mitchell Churchill Fellowship to study music criticism - UK, Germany
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My Churchill Fellowship took me on the journey of a lifetime.

I was working as a music critic for The Mercury and The Australian, but trips to the library (we didn’t have the Internet back then!) made me aware of the high quality of music criticism in Europe, and I was hungry for input. The Fellowship enabled me to travel around Europe attending concerts, festivals, rehearsals and recording sessions, and being coached by a couple of London colleagues.

An additional scholarship from the Goethe Institut allowed me to spend two months in Berlin, learning German. I assumed that after all of this, I’d return to Tasmania and pick up the threads of my work as a music journalist, but that’s not how things turned out. Though I continued writing about music for Australian publications, and returned to teach courses or write about events, Berlin became my home; and I won a post as a critic for the UK-based Financial Times.

It was in this capacity that I travelled to Venezuela to write about El Sistema, the world’s leading program to use music as a tool for social development. That in turn inspired me to return to the country of my birth, South Africa, and establish Umculo, an international initiative that uses music theatre to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our most recent production won an international award; I’m incredibly proud of our young performers. And I’m so grateful for the Fellowship that started me on this path.

Excerpt from “Bringing Knowledge Home” published by the Churchill Fellows Association of Tasmania (2016) 

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