Conducting six pianists in a concert is one of the interesting projects violinist Laura Barton, formerly of Gore, has been involved in last year.
Barton has been continuing her music studies since 2017 at the Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne, after completing a bachelor of music (honours) studies at Victoria University of Wellington in 2016.
She also started a two-year masters degree at Griffith University in 2018.
Barton said she was invited to conduct the concert by Six Piano Collective musical director Kitty Xiao.
“It was my first actual professional conducting engagement which was fun,” Barton said.
Australian composers were asked to write a piece of music for one, two, three, four, five or six pianos.
Six pianos were placed in an oval close to the walls of an auditorium.
“The logistics of having six pianos in a space is quite difficult and they were all uprights so they’re all very tall.
“The pianos were almost unusable – we fixed them up a bit so they were playable but they were ready to be thrown out.”
Sitting with their backs to the audience, who sat on stools in the middle of the room and could swivel around to look where they chose, the pianists could not see each other but could glance over their shoulders to get their cue from Barton.
“I stood at one end on a box and conducted them through these world premieres of really good music.”
The concert started with playing the first piano and progressed through the compositions until all six were being played.
“It was a very unique experience.”
About 300 people attended the main concert, and a smaller number attended the matinee.
It was not likely the musical pieces for the multiple pianos would be played often.
“That’s a lot of pianos to get into one place.”
There were many opportunities to take part in the arts in Melbourne.
“It’s very hip – it’s a really cultural city.
“There’s so much going on.”
Barton had also taken part in many concerts during 2018.
“I’ve been on a couple of tours, which has been great, and gone to music festivals around the country.”
At present she was on a trip to China.
“That’s with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra.”
When not performing, Barton was preparing material for her masters.
Using the same piece of music, she will take part in two performances: first as a member of a septet and then as conductor for a group of 23 musicians.
“My entire thesis ..will consist of two performances, so they’ll be recorded and submitted as part of my thesis, and then it’s also a 12,000-word exegesis which will document my progress and the process of rehearsing and performing the piece in the different settings.”