Life of a busy mu­si­cian

Central Otago Mirror - - ENTERTAINMENT -

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.’’

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