I’m always intrigued to hear musicians interview other musicians because you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t resemble an interview by a journalist. Sure enough, Kathy and today’s group covered a startling range of topics. We had piano chat with Daniel de Borah and Timothy Young, some touching honesty about pressures and schedules from Tine Thing Helseth, who didn’t have a holiday for 10 years; tales from the orchestral front-line with flautist Prudence Davis (first flute of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 1980); and the price of top violins today from Alexander Sitkovetsky, who is trying to raise $5m to buy the heavenly Strad he is playing at present. But above all, we had...footwear?
Or lack of it. Tine is one of an increasing number of young women musicians who prefer to play bare-footed. Seeing some of the heights of heels others wear on stage has often left me fearing for their ankles, feet, instruments and general security and if a rebellion is taking place, it’s not before time. I mean, come on, men don’t wear them, so why should we have to? (I gave up attempting high heels about 10 years ago and nowadays if I ever do wear them, I can hardly walk, and I like to be able to walk...) Pianist Alice Sara Ott has played barefoot for years, so has violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Tine explained she simply feels more comfortable that way. But today we learned that the phenonemon is spreading to men, and it’s the digital shift that’s driving it.
Timothy Young appeared on stage not barefoot, but in some unusual shoes - unusual for a musician, that is. You’d be more likely to see them in a yoga studio. They’re the soft-soled, wrap-around, close-with-velcro (I think) type, and he explained that he wears them because he now performs from an iPad instead of paper sheet music and finds it easier to treat the necessary bluetooth pedal sensitively if he can feel it underfoot, which normal concert shoes don’t always allow.
When it was time for Kathy and Daniel to offer their morning performance - Fauré’s Dolly Suite for duet - Kathy admitted she would today be making her iPad debut. And Daniel, as the ‘secondo’ player in charge of page-turning, walked on stage...barefoot.
My jury is still out regarding Mrs Bach’s footwear for Wednesday. Whatever she has will be hidden by her long skirts in any case... hmm...
In the meantime, I’ve reviewed the two opening nights’ concerts for Limelight Magazine, which you can read here: https://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/features/australian-festival-of-chamber-music-opening-weekend-round-up
And we had Moreton Bay Bugs in garlic butter for lunch...