She loves her girl­friend, corsets and clas­si­cal mu­sic. Gentle­men, it’s time to meet Sally Whitwell. In­ter­view by Marc An­drews.

DNA Magazine - - CONTENT #221 - MORE: Sally Whitwell’s Com­plete Etudes For Solo Pi­ano is re­leased through Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic/ABC Clas­sics. For per­for­mance info find her on Face­book, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter.

DNA: It’s lovely hav­ing a clas­si­cal mistress in the mag­a­zine! Sally: Thank you, it’s great to be here.

Would you de­scribe your mu­sic as clas­si­cal or in some other way? Con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal is what I do but I’ve re­cently co-writ­ten a mu­si­cal Un­re­quited in­cor­po­rat­ing elec­tro-pop and neo-Mo­town. There are also gen­tle par­o­dies of One Di­rec­tion, Tay­lor Swift and Five Sec­onds Of Sum­mer. Lov­ing par­o­dies.

You just recorded a gor­geous al­bum of Philip Glass mu­sic. How did this love be­gin?

In my teens at bal­let school in the ’80s we watched re­hearsal footage of In The Up­per Room by Twyla Tharp. I thought the danc­ing was great but it was the mu­sic that re­ally grabbed me! Quite a few years later, ABC Clas­sics sug­gested an al­bum of Glass and I grabbed the op­por­tu­nity with both hands.

Ap­par­ently, Glass him­self has de­scribed your ver­sions of his mu­sic as “po­etry”. Is that true?

It is, in­deed. I can die happy.

Glass’ mu­sic is cin­e­matic. Any plans to get into movie sound­tracks?

I’ve done a lit­tle bit of work in film as a pi­anist rather than as a com­poser. I loved writ­ing mu­sic for a scene in the web series High Life, about a girl with bipo­lar. She’s hav­ing an episode of ma­nia at a pi­ano exam. She starts out play­ing a beau­ti­ful Chopin Noc­turne that morphs into a crazy kind of boo­gie-woo­gie thing. It’s a pretty funny scene.

When you were grow­ing up what was play­ing in your house? There was an eclec­tic mix. We’d wake up to Bach’s Mag­ni­fi­cat on Sun­day morn­ings – odd for an atheist fam­ily. Mum likes Schu­bert and Astrud Gil­berto. My grand­mother lis­tened to Chopin, Beethoven and De­bussy. My brother liked Pink Floyd, The Bea­tles and Red Hot Chili Pep­pers. I was se­ri­ously into danc­ing so there was fre­quently Tchaikovsk­y.

You’re such an LGBT sup­porter; what are you in­volved in? Be­ing as out as I am, I’ve be­come some­thing of the ac­ci­den­tal role model to a spe­cific group of LGBT kids. Help­ing them nav­i­gate that time in their lives safely is some­thing I do at a grassroots level. I feel I can make a dif­fer­ence as Les­bian Aun­tie. Dur­ing the mar­riage equal­ity sur­vey, my in-box ex­ploded with two types of mes­sages: death and rape threats, mostly from Chris­tians, and pleas for help from young LGBT peo­ple strug­gling with ho­mo­pho­bia and bul­ly­ing. I may have cried ev­ery day for sev­eral weeks after the Yes vic­tory.

Do you get to play at gay events or venues?

A few cabaret shows for Mardi Gras, the Gay Games cho­ral fes­ti­vals in Syd­ney and Am­s­ter­dam. It’s hard for me to get sup­port from the com­mu­nity be­cause I’m not a pop diva.

Do you ever go out wild disco danc­ing?

Not so much these days. My part­ner and I used to like the leather/ fetish events be­cause they’re the best-dressed and most fun. I love wear­ing corsets and she looks amaz­ing in uni­forms. Also, we like heavy, dark mu­sic and that’s where you find it.

Do you be­lieve mu­sic can make the world a bet­ter place?

Mu­sic to­day is not a uni­fy­ing force. There’s so much of it, such in­cred­i­ble di­ver­sity and it’s so tied to cul­tures and sub­cul­tures. Your av­er­age Kylie fan is not get­ting into Arnold Schön­berg’s Pier­rot Lu­naire, and that’s okay as long as we re­spect dif­fer­ence. What’s your mes­sage for the gay boys of the world out there? Stay fab­u­lous; be a fem­i­nist.

What al­ways makes you laugh?

My part­ner Glenda. Ev­ery. Sin­gle. Day.


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