Meriel's cover image
Meriel

Meriel Owen

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Australian Capital Territory Arts - Performing > General
Arts - Performing > Music
The Stuart and Norma Leslie Churchill Fellowship to study diverse repertoire and techniques for harp in orchestra and chamber music - Austria, Germany
Download

The opportunity to spend an extended period of time in Vienna and Berlin enabled me to meet a number of harpists and other musicians associated with producing music in groups ranging from chamber and new music groups to orchestras and opera houses. An important, and all too often neglected, part of a musician’s continued professional development includes time to practice, examine and discuss technique, sound and musical approach, and to observe the rehearsal process and performances of other musicians. This Fellowship allowed me to do this, a process that has been both challenging and inspiring. Some outcomes include an improved understanding of the French school of harp playing. There are some subtle, and not so subtle, differences in the technique that I believe can be incorporated into my own approach and also included in my teaching. Of particular importance as a teacher is the need to be flexible, imaginative, inspirational and encouraging.

Attending rehearsals of world-class orchestras and ensembles, particularly when sitting next to the harpist and surrounded by amazing musicianship was absolutely inspiring and I believe an excellent pedagogical tool when teaching orchestral and chamber music skills. I was able to focus not only on the harp part and how it would be played, but how it fitted into the overall score, specific techniques for achieving effective ensemble and blend, how different conductors work with ensembles, as well as specific approaches to interpretation. During the course of the Fellowship I was also able to experience some of the rehearsal and performance process of an opera, including insight into the way a European opera house functions, where musicians in the orchestra are often dealing with numbers of performances with alternating casts/conductors/orchestra members.

Because of the acoustic nature of music, the best way to learn about creating beautiful sound is to hear it. All too often musicians can be overwhelmed by the technical aspects, of their instruments, sometimes at the expense of actually listening to the sound that is being created. Hearing, and being surrounded by great performers in rehearsal and concert is the most effective method of imparting techniques for creating a beautiful sound and good ensemble. I was able to hear performances of, discuss with colleagues, and 21 practice repertoire that was entirely new to me, as well as music that I had performed previously.

This Fellowship has been an extremely valuable development opportunity and is positively impacting my professional life, both as a performer and teacher, since returning from Europe. In addition to improved skills for playing in ensemble, I have also discovered a wealth of new and interesting repertoire that I hope to perform over the course of the next year. Ultimately the chance to engage with gifted, enthusiastic and inspirational musicians has exposed me to new musical approaches, enabled me to reexamine and reaffirm existing practices and reminded me of the importance of working as an artist within the Australian community.

Related fellows
Cat Hope, Cat
Arts - Performing > General
Arts - Performing > Music
2013
Andrew Butt, Andrew
Arts - Performing > Music
2013
Brieley Cutting, Brieley
Arts - Performing > Music
2013
Kellie Dickerson, Kellie
Arts - Performing > Music
2013
Luke Dollman, Luke
Arts - Performing > Music
2013
Ashley Smith, Ashley
Arts - Performing > Music
2013
Sarah-Vyne Vassallo, Sarah-Vyne
Arts - Performing > General
2013
Karen Kyriakou, Karen
Arts - Performing > Music
2012
Emma Sullivan, Emma
Arts - Performing > Music
2012
David Symons, David
Arts - Performing > General
2012