Ac­cess, op­por­tu­nity for mu­sic lovers

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY SARAH SCULLY

As a gifted flautist and soughtafter con­duc­tor, Mark Shiell has per­formed in pres­ti­gious com­pany on stages across the world.

But, de­spite his ex­pe­ri­ences, when you ask Shiell about his fu­ture am­bi­tions, you soon learn his fo­cus is closer to home.

A youth mu­sic ad­vo­cate, Shiell wants to cre­ate ac­cess to mu­sic and op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple in coun­try ar­eas.

Raised on a farm out­side Jeparit, Shiell per­formed in the Wim­mera un­til the age of 16, when he moved to Mel­bourne to fur­ther his craft.

Ear­lier this month, he re­turned to the re­gion for a ‘Home­com­ing’ con­cert, per­form­ing a full pro­gram in the Wim­mera for the first time in 20 years.

Shiell also hosted a flute work­shop for stu­dents ahead of the recital at Hor­sham’s Wes­ley Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre.

“All the kids were in about year seven or eight. There was one girl from Nhill and the rest were from Hor­sham,” he said.

“We would have had a few from Stawell but we had to change the date so they weren’t able to come.”

Shiell said he hoped to of­fer ad­di­tional flute work­shops in the fu­ture.

“I’ll look at mak­ing a few trips from Mel­bourne, or even op­por­tu­ni­ties to teach re­motely over Skype,” he said.

Shiell’s Home­com­ing con­cert took au­di­ences on a mu­si­cal jour­ney span­ning about 200 years, from early clas­si­cal to ul­tra mod­ern.

“I’m re­ally happy with how went,” he said.

“I wasn’t sure how it would turn out it all or what kind of crowd I’d get, but I was re­ally happy with the au­di­ence.”

Shiell joined forces with Hor­sham Col­lege mu­sic teacher and com­poser Nick Shirrefs for the recital.

He said the seeds for col­lab­o­ra­tion were sown dur­ing a pre­vi­ous trip to the Wim­mera.

“I did a talk at a Probus club last year and I said I was in­ter­ested in do­ing a con­cert in Hor­sham and asked who would be good to talk to,” he said.

“A few peo­ple sug­gested I talk to Nick at the high school and when I asked around I re­alised I’d heard some of his com­po­si­tions be­fore and liked them. It turned out he’d writ­ten a vi­o­lin sonata and I af­ter I spoke with him he vol­un­teered to write a flute sonata.”

Shiell pre­miered Shirref’s ‘Flute Sonata in D’ at Wes­ley.

“Nick doesn’t play the flute so he wrote the piece with­out know­ing if some things were go­ing to be mod­er­ately dif­fi­cult or in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult,” Shiell said.

“I told him to do what he liked. It was a great piece. He de­scribes it as very vis­ual. You could de­scribe it as a piece for a film mu­si­cal.”

Young cel­list Char­lotte Kube, of Jeparit, also per­formed at the con­cert.

She per­formed two works, in­clud­ing one writ­ten by Shirrefs.

“Char­lotte did a great job. She played very well,” Shiell said.

Con­fronting demons

Shiell had not per­formed the flute for a long time ahead of his Home­com­ing recital, in­stead fo­cus­ing on con­duct­ing.

“There were a cou­ple of rea­sons why it was im­por­tant for me to do this con­cert,” he said.

“Firstly, I went back to play­ing the flute and I wanted to go back to where I started.

“Se­condly, it was a chance for me to con­front some demons. I had a very neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence from a mu­sic teacher when I was a kid, that no one knew about.

“Other than that, all the other ex­pe­ri­ences I had in the re­gion were pos­i­tive and I en­joy com­ing back.”

Look­ing ahead

Among his longer-term plans in­clude spend­ing more time in places such as the Wim­mera.

Shiell said he would like to or­gan­ise a group of mu­si­cians and singers to travel to coun­try towns.

“I want to make mu­sic more ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple,” he said.

“I’d like to cu­rate the con­cert so ev­ery piece played has the crowd go­ing, ‘I love that piece’.”

Shiell said a visit to Jeparit with Bal­larat Sym­phony Orches­tra a few years ago helped ce­ment the idea.

“It was won­der­ful,” he said. “I think we can do it even bet­ter and tailor the mu­sic for the au­di­ence.

“It would be great for mu­si­cians like Char­lotte be­cause it is some­thing they can par­tic­i­pate in lo­cally and not have to jump in a car and drive to Mel­bourne.”

Shiell also plans to do fur­ther study and pur­sue a PHD in some­thing that com­bines prac­ti­cal move­ment as­so­ci­ated with Ja­panese Zen art.

“It’s hard to ex­plain but it’s kind of like med­i­ta­tion in ac­tion,” he said.

“I’ve also got a cou­ple of recitals lined up for next year. Now that I’m back play­ing the flute, I want to see where it’s go­ing to take me.”

MAK­ING MU­SIC: Flautist Mark Shiell hosts a mas­ter­class for as­pir­ing mu­si­cians at Hor­sham’s Wes­ley Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre ahead of his Home­com­ing con­cert. Pic­tured, from left, are Lily O’brien, Pas­call Pat­ter­son, El­iza Tick­ner, Ameliah Smith and El­iza...

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