BY LEAH BLANKENDAAL
Welcome to Con Fuoco, CutCommon’s interview series with emerging musicians in Australia.
Born in Perth, Elise Jeffrey began piano lessons at 7 years old and trombone at 13. Unable to choose between the two instruments, she began studies in piano at the University of Western Australia in 2011. However, her love of the trombone didn’t diminish during this time and in 2014 she began studying trombone at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts with Joshua Davis. Since then, Elise has been involved in many projects and ensembles, including performances with the West Australian Youth Orchestra, the WAAPA Faith Court Orchestra, the WAAPA Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and the WAAPA Brass Ensemble. In 2014, she participated in the WASO Orchestral Training Program and has also had the opportunity to play in two operas at WAAPA during her studies.
Elise is principal trombone of the West Australian Youth Orchestra, the WAAPA Faith Court Orchestra and the WAAPA Brass Ensemble and is busy preparing for upcoming concerts. She will be travelling to Japan and Singapore in December this year with WAYO on its international tour. She plans to complete her third year recital in mid-2017.
Your all time favourite piece of music?
I generally fall in love with whatever I am currently listening to. I tend to go through obsessions with different composers at different points in time. One composer I often come back to and absolutely love is Shostakovich, especially his 24 Preludes and Fugues, and also Symphony No. 5. Often when I just want something to lift my mood and sing along with, I’ll listen to the Beatles; they are my absolute favourite band of all time!
Best piece of musical advice you’ve received?
I think this piece of advice is helpful both in terms of music and life in general. The Head of Brass at WAAPA Brent Grapes once said something to me along the lines of: ‘If you want it enough, you can achieve it’ (in reference to getting to the point with your playing that you can win a job in an orchestra). This has always stuck with me and especially when I’m feeling discouraged I find myself pondering this piece of advice.
Most memorable concert experience?
Performing Benjamin Britten’s opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a week straight with the legendary Richard Gill conducting. The amount of work the musicians had to put in and the concentration required was quite incredible. It was very exhausting but was an amazing experience that I learnt so much from. I will never forget Richard Gill’s love and enthusiasm for music.
Biggest fear when performing?
I tend to have quite a lot of anxiety both leading up to and during a performance, especially if I feel a lot of pressure to perform well. I guess I am scared of something going wrong – this is something I am working on currently so that I can improve my quality of playing during performances and auditions!
How do you psych yourself up for practice on a lazy day?
Generally during the university semester, I don’t have many lazy days as the pressure of upcoming performances and exams gets me going even when I don’t feel like practising. Sometimes the holidays can be a big challenge, however; so on these days I like to tell myself I will just practise for 10 minutes and then once I get started this normally turns into 45 minutes and then I find myself planning out my practice for the rest of the day.
Most embarrassing moment on stage or in rehearsal?
There have definitely been a couple of embarrassing moments including mutes falling out in rehearsals (luckily not during a performance!). I think the most embarrassing would have to be at one performance a few years ago when I had to sneak on to stage at the last moment with another friend as I got totally lost in conversation backstage and lost track of time! That definitely won’t happen again!
Your favourite post-gig ritual?
Have a chat with the other performers and spend some time with friends. Sleep is also good!
What are you most proud of in your musical career so far?
So far, I’m most proud of playing a solo in a brass ensemble concert earlier this year. I performed a solo in the piece Fanfares Liturgiques by Henri Tomasi. I really enjoyed the experience and the piece is fantastic.
What do you love most about making music?
I love sharing music with others! Practising on your own is great and of course is a necessary part of the process, but the real magic happens when you get to perform the part you’ve been practising with the rest of the ensemble and really learn and feel how it all fits together. Sharing music with an audience is also a great feeling, as is the feeling of sharing music through teaching.
What’s your ultimate goal?
To continue learning and growing as both a musician and human being so that I can spread the joy of music to others through performing and teaching!
Image supplied. Credit: Leo Beavitt.