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Thursday, June 24, 2021

ANU musician launches 1:1 concerts to support performing artists

To support their struggling colleagues, musicians from The Australian National University (ANU) are performing unique 1:1 concerts for the public.

It’s been well documented how the calendars of all kinds of performing artists were cleared mid-March this year as COVID restrictions swept across the country, with countless forward bookings for the foreseeable future being wiped in a day.

While things are slowly getting back on track, the economic and emotional impacts of that on musicians remain.

Sally Walker, a lecturer in classical woodwind at the ANU School of Music launched the now international 1:1 concerts project, which sees one-on-one concerts run fortnightly to allow listeners to enjoy an intimate live music experience at sites across town. 

“Those employed in the performing arts are struggling. Some are selling their homes, some are selling their instruments, there has been a lot of relationship breakdown and people are feeling terribly desperate,” Ms Walker said.

“I had my concerts cancelled by 20 different organisations in the space of four days. Luckily, I had my ANU half-salary contract and I can make ends meet, but it really brought home how tough it is for those who depend solely on performance.”

1:1 concerts ANU Sally Walker
ANU School of Music classical woodwind lecturer and 1:1 concerts founder Sally Walker performing at Old Parliament House. Photo: National Capital Authority.

With performances in the bush, gardens, galleries and other unusual settings, anyone can book a concert and, for a voluntary donation, experience a 10-minute personalised performance by a world-class musician. 

The donations will help support the many performers in deep financial stress from cancelled concerts due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The program for each individual performance is devised by the musician on the spot through an intense connection, which occurs when performer and listener sit and look at each other in silence for one minute. 

“The importance of the eye contact was brought home to me when an older gentleman, for whom I played some of Bach’s solo sonata in A minor, told me afterwards his wife had died four years ago and it was the longest amount of eye contact he’d had with another person since then, and it made him feel human again,” she said.

“During this minute I’m thinking a lot about what this person might like to hear, but it also re-establishes that live person-to-person connection that we’ve lost.”

Along with ANU jazz and contemporary singer Ms Rachael Thoms and Ms Walker on flute, Head of School, Kim Cunio is offering concerts on the Oud. Thomas Laue will play the carillon.

Australia’s 1:1 concerts are being held across Sydney, Canberra and Newcastle with plans to extend them nationwide; book a concert here.

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