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Posted by on Jun 19, 2008 in Media | 1 comment

Adelaide: South Australian Wine & Music

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South Australia (SA) is often celebrated as the Down Under’s food and wine centre. Its capital city, the picturesque and laidback Adelaide, and its suburbs have rightly earned a well-deserved sobriquet of being the “cultural capital” of the country (and among the top liveable cities in the world). As a visitor here, I can vouch for the excellence of wine and the enjoyable concerts!

I hope to explore Australia’s extraordinary natural environment, history and indigenous culture…and the great outback. (Meanwhile I learn that “Aussie” Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman are set to star in an “epic” Australian outback movie with the goal of promoting the country’s spirit and luring more tourists Down Under, reports Reuters.)

A memorable Adelaide event that I attended recently was the “Young Accompanists On Show”, where one of the performers was 13-year-old Candy Liang. Her parents arrived from China only three years ago to start a business here, further contributing towards making this city a vibrating multicultural hub.

“Young Accompanists on Show”, which was presented by the Accompanists’ Guild of SA at Pilgrim Church as part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations of the Guild, was supported by the Adelaide City Council. I wonder how many civic councils/bodies in the world encourage young students/musicians in the field of classical music in their cities and suburbs. It was indeed a grand gesture — to offer two concerts by leading musicians, a lunch and a masterclass for young performers.

…All for free with a view to focussing on young accompanists and bringing different groups of people into the City for a cultural event. Having an Adelaide trained pianist (David Barnard — who at just 26 is now working very successfully out of London as a freelance pianist) at the centre of this event was an added bonus. David listened to the concert (mainly secondary school piano/wind duos), performed with three wind soloists from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in the concert, joined approximately 150 for lunch, and then conducted a very stimulating master class with the young performers.

Also, among the audience was the internationally-acclaimed pianist Malcolm Martineau. “I don’t think there has ever been anything quite like this in Adelaide before,” said a delighted Diana Harris, the moving spirit behind the musical event. “There are regular Wednesday lunch-time concerts but never for free and never with lunch and a M class added.”

During her career as an accompanist and artist, Diana has collaborated with hundreds of Australian and International musicians. She has encouraged many of her overseas performance associates to undertake residencies at the Flinders Street School of Music where she was principal lecturer until 2002. Later she joined the Elder School of Music at the Adelaide University as Head of the Continuing Flinders Street programs.

In support of her belief in the significance of the accompanist in a wide range of situations, Diana developed curricula to Honours Degree level. There are now fine young accompanists worldwide who began their studies with Diana in Adelaide. She is the founder and the driving force behind the Accompanists’ Guild of South Australia. The Guild format has been copied in Queensland and New South Wales and is on the drawing board in other states in Australia.

The indefatigable Diana had in 2000 directed a two-week Festival of Australian Music which involved 20 concerts presenting works by over 80 Australian composers. The Festival involved over 100 musicians who performed works from the 19th century to compositions commissioned for the occasion. During the Festival Diana performed as accompanist in several concerts bringing together her demonstrated passions for new composition, Australian music and collaborative piano playing.

The photo below shows Diana Harris with David Barnard…
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