Life of a busy musician
MARK WILSON is a Queenstown icon. A funny man – a real talker and after just 10 minutes into a phone interview, I discovered how good he was at marketing himself.
‘‘If people can go to a rugby game then they can afford to go to a concert,’’ he said, referring to the upcoming Spanish violin concert with Cathy Irons at Lake Hayes.
Wilson talked about its valuefor-money, how great the venue was (The Thomas L. Brown Gallery), and then he quickly moved into promoting the upcoming Central Otago Regional Choir tour in early December.
I also recently noticed he plays a regular monthly gig at Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery in Alexandra.
So how exactly does this busy man transport himself to all of the concerts?
‘‘The buses are pretty well serviced and the drivers all know who I am,’’ he said.
Around Queenstown he uses a cane – he tried out a guide dog 16 years ago but they didn’t really get on.
‘‘I had a dog for two weeks, but we didn’t have a rapport. I think I’m more of a cane person.’’
He said his apartment in town wouldn’t have really suited a dog anyway.
Wilson said his biggest challenge in life (other than surviving a brain tumour in 2009), was dealing with the traffic and busy intersections in the middle of Queens- town. ‘‘ You do get some road crossings that aren’t the safest. There are one or two where you are taking your own life in your hands,’’ he said.
Piano came into Wilson’s life at age five when he was boarding at the School for the Blind.
Later he learned music Braille, took exams and theory through the Royal School of Music, and did a degree in piano at Auckland University.
Nowadays, his busy schedule consists of playing in a band, performing solo in bars and at weddings and conferences, and he also teaches the jazz group at the local high school.
And he also devotes time to composing.
For the Spanish concert on Friday, November 26, Wilson has memorised an entire programme of music.
Unlike most classical performers, Wilson relies on his strong memory skills because of his lack of sight. He has learnt the programme of music from recordings, patiently committing every note to memory.
‘‘It took five weeks and was quite an intensive time,’’ he said.
‘‘If you can get part of the Braille music you learn it that way but you still have to memorise it as well.’’
Describing Irons as very lyrical and someone who ‘‘dances with the violin’’, the pair instantly gelled when they first met.
They first performed together earlier this year at the New Zealand Association of Language Teacher’s (NZALT) Biennial International conference.
Naturally, they were both looking forward to getting together and performing again.
Tickets for the Ole! Spanish Music for Violin and Piano concert are $20 from the Lakes District Museum or at the door.
Blind musician Mark Wilson: ‘‘I had a dog for two weeks, but we didn’t have a rapport. I think I’m more of a cane person.’’