BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE
ANAM Artists is a program sending leaders in music performance out to work their magic in venues across Australia.
This weekend’s stop is in Sydney, when young violinist Harry Bennetts performs with pianist Louisa Breen at the opera house.
Harry graduated from the school last year, and is now on a scholarship at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Academy. In the past, he’s taken out the Kendall National Violin Competition, the Australian National Academy of Music Concerto Competition, and has been an Australian Chamber Orchestra Emerging Artist.
Harry, congratulations on your success so far! How are you feeling about your big show at SOH?
As the last performance of our tour, Louisa and I are both so excited for our opera house concert. We’ve had several chances to perform our recital under pressure and now is the time to really let go and enjoy ourselves!
You’ve so far performed at Ukaria and the Melbourne Recital Centre as part of this event. How have these performances prepared you for Sydney?
We’ve definitely had the chance to gauge how the audience is going to react in the different works. It’s really fun for us to push silences to the absolute, and really play as softy as possible for effect. The greatest part of a concert for me is the absolute stillness at the end of a really tranquil ending!
Strauss. Chausson. Lutoslawski. Why are works by these composers the ones that you’ve decided to spend many months preparing, and touring? What do they mean to you and tell us about you?
Louisa and I were in complete agreement on the program almost from the very start of planning! Especially with the Strauss sonata. The very first time I heard the piece played, it was Louisa playing, and I absolutely loved her interpretation. I really love the textures in Strauss’ orchestral works, and the sonata represents this so well. Also, the vibrancy and high levels of energy required to perform it are exhilarating.
Since graduating from ANAM, you’ve been doing extremely well. At the moment, you’re studying and performing in Berlin. As a young musician, how have you found all your formal training has compared with real-life performance experience?
Yes and no. Of course, I’ve had some amazing training in Australia leading up to where I am now, and in so many areas. But the amazing thing about music and what I love most about it is that you’re always being thrown into the deep end, and are constantly learning and trying to navigate trough new problems. I think this is what keeps so many musicians engaged and excited by what we do: there’s always more to discover.
What are some of the activities or opportunities you’ve pursued that you think may have helped you the most – in terms of leading you to where you are today, and giving you an edge and appeal as a significant young performer?
Everything that’s made me uncomfortable has been amazing. We’re so often thrown into high pressure situations, and having experiences like concerto performances, competitions, or even tough orchestral weeks with very little time to prepare, are all very beneficial for managing nerves and understanding how you work under stress.
What advice do you have for other young musicians looking to achieve this level of success?
Set your goals as high as you can. Most of the time, they’ll be unobtainable. But aspiring to be the best you can is only going to improve who you are as a musician and human being. Opportunities will always present themselves to those who put themselves out there, and it’s shocking how fast you improve when you’re ambitious!
See Harry Bennetts perform at the Sydney Opera House, 3pm July 16.