Q&A: mu­si­cian Jenny Banks

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - M: What are you do­ing now? J: M: Do you still keep your Cen­tral Otago con­nec­tions? J: M. What in­spires you in the mu­sic world? J: M: Do you cross into other gen­res? J: M: If you weren’t a mu­si­cian, what would you like to be? J: M: What would your theme so


When Jenny Banks left Alexan­dra to study mu­sic at Otago Uni­ver­sity in 2000, the world was her stage.

She went on to string up an en­vi­able moun­tain of qual­i­fi­ca­tions, awards and orches­tral ap­point­ments, be­fore mak­ing Ger­many her home in 2010, where she lives with 3-year-old daugh­ter, Ella.

In 2011, Banks was just the sec­ond New Zealan­der to be ap­pointed to the Ge­wand­haus Or­ches­tra (founded 1743), af­ter vi­o­lin­ist Al­fred Hill in the 1880s.

She was made a per­ma­nent mem­ber in 2013 and is based in Leipzig, about 150km south of Ber­lin.

I’m still play­ing in the Ge­wand­haus or­ches­tra, and thor­oughly en­joy­ing it, as well as look­ing af­ter my daugh­ter Ella. We trav­elled home in win­ter 2017 for six weeks off, so we’ll be stay­ing in Europe this year to get a real hit of vi­ta­min D and travel around with my par­ents. I’ve been play­ing cham­ber mu­sic with a piano trio and re­cently played with a won­der­ful Stock­holm cham­ber or­ches­tra in Lon­don’s Wig­more Hall.

I still re­gard Cen­tral Otago as home, and it gave me many mu­si­cal op­por­tu­ni­ties. I was able to per­form a lot around the district and re­ceived a lot of sup­port. I played in the Cen­tral Otago Or­ches­tra and sang in Dun­stanza, and in the school band. My main sup­port was my vi­o­lin teacher from age 4 un­til 16, Rosanne Forde. She is a won­der­ful lady and still teaches.

I hope to con­trib­ute to the Cen­tral Otago scene next time I’m home – per­haps turn­ing up to a high school mu­sic class! I was sched­uled to play con­certs in 2016 as a soloist with the Dunedin Sym­phony Or­ches­tra in Wanaka and Dunedin, but I had to can­cel be­cause of a thumb in­jury.

I am in­spired by my or­ches­tra col­leagues, con­duc­tors and soloists to make mu­sic on a high level. Leipzig is an in­spi­ra­tion in it­self. Many great com­posers and writers lived and had their works pre­miered here by my or­ches­tra. Bach, Tele­mann, Men­delssohn, Schu­mann, Wag­ner, Mahler, Goethe, Schiller... So it’s a nice feel­ing to make mu­sic in a city that has al­ways lived and breathed mu­sic.

I used to sing in a rock band and played Ir­ish fid­dle when I was at Otago Uni­ver­sity. Right now I’m purely play­ing clas­si­cal, but the cham­ber or­ches­tra I’m play­ing in in­cor­po­rates im­pro­vi­sa­tional el­e­ments. Later this year I’ll be in­volved in a cross­over project with a fa­mous elec­tronic mu­si­cian and DJ called ‘The Mi­cro­naut’. We will cre­ate a new work to­gether in open re­hearsals and per­form it in the Ge­wand­haus.

A jour­nal­ist! I al­ways en­joyed writ­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy. I would love to get out there and tell other peo­ple’s sto­ries.

Hmm, that’s a tough one. So much mu­sic to choose from! I could never han­dle only hav­ing one piece of mu­sic. Beethoven is my favourite com­poser. Per­haps the Ode to Joy theme from the 9th Sym­phony? Or Eye of the Tiger!

This Q&A has been abridged for brevity and clar­ity.

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