Musica Viva Armidale has invited popular pianist Michael Kieran Harvey to perform one concert only at the Armidale Town Hall on Sunday, April 3. Michael reflects upon his very successful career and what motivates him in his chosen artform.
Where were you born, and how did you first become interested in piano?
I was born in Sydney. My entire family have always been interested in music, and I remember being fascinated with the piano from a very, very young age. I have studied piano in Canberra with Alan Jenkins, at the Sydney Conservatorium under Gordon Watson, and at the Liszt Academy, Budapest, under the Director, Professor Sándor Falvai.
What does your repertoire consist of?
I have regularly appeared as soloist with all Australian Symphony orchestras. I have a wide repertoire. I like to especially promote the works of Australian composers, both internationally and within Australia. I have premiered many new Australian concertos by composers such as Vine, Westlake, Grabowsky, Sitsky, Joseph and Conyngham.
In Australia I have premiered international works by Andriessen, Wolpe, Martino, Zappa, Jon Lord, Keith Emerson and Babbitt.
Describe some of your recordings?
I have performed and recorded most of Messiaen’s works involving piano, and in 2005 I released a live 3-CD recording of the Australian premiere of the entire Catalogue d’oiseaux.
Recently seven CDs were released on Move ranging from my own music through new major works by Australian contemporaries, to works by emerging Japanese and Mexican composers, and a disc of early Messiaen and Shostakovitch.
Tall Poppies last year released my CDs of the complete Vine piano music (including the 12 preludes written 2006) and the Westlake first sonata. Additionally, my CD of American duos with violinist Miwako Abe was released on New World Records.
Have you won any awards?
Yes. I am very proud to have been recognised by numerous national and international awards, including the Grand Prix in the Ivo Pogorelich Piano Competition (Pasadena), the Debussy Medal (Paris), four consecutive Australian ‘Mo’ awards for best classical artist, the Australian government’s Centenary Medal for services to Australian music, and most recently I have been twice nominated for the Helpmann Award.
My recordings are regularly nominated in the ARIAS and APRAS.
How did the Michael Kieran Harvey Scholarship come about?
In 2005, the estate of the late Susan Remington established the Michael Kieran Harvey Scholarship to encourage future directions in keyboard art music.
What will you be playing at your Armidale concert?
Liszt’s influence on music was titanic, and in his 200th birthday year I wanted to present his Transcendental etudes in the light of later innovations in keyboard writing. This recital is in the spirit of his desire to cast his lance “into the boundless realms of the future”.
The piano, as a convenient music computer for experimenting with form and sound, dominated Western Art music until the rise of the PC.
Stravinsky, Bartok and Messiaen all followed Liszt’s example and revolutionised music through their experimental works on the piano – Messiaen, in one of the Rhythmic etudes, even developing a technique for the complete digitalising of sound … in 1949!
What motivates your music?
My particular motivation for being a musician is to try and keep this very ancient type of music relevant. In today’s world, technology is moving so quickly that I am always looking for ways to try and present the piano in a way that is modern and enjoyable.
Our young generation have been in the habit of thinking that classical music is for old people, so we must keep it exciting. It has been proven recently that engagement with acoustic instruments is very healthy for the developing brain.
I think modern technology is great, but I am always trying to integrate that with my art form. It is very important for me to keep the piano at the forefront, as it used to be for so many generations.
Tell us the history of Musica Viva?
Founded in 1945, Musica Viva is Australia’s oldest independent professional performing arts organisation. As an independent non-profit arts organisation, Musica Viva relies on the essential support of donors, funding partners, government support, corporate partners and the many volunteers who freely give their time.
Thanks to their help, Musica Viva continues to share the delights of chamber music with audiences throughout Australia, presenting over 2,400 concerts in capital cities, regional communities and schools – not to mention the national and international artists we support throughout our vast range of programs.
Musica Viva continues to challenge the boundaries of chamber music, turning it from its conservative origins into a rich celebration of intimacy, vitality and artistry.
In 2006, Musica Viva was awarded for Distinguished Services to Australian Music in the Australian Classical Music Awards – a first for an institution rather than an individual. Music enriches our lives and often becomes inextricably linked with the most poignant moments in them. The aim remains simply, as always, ‘music to inspire’.
Where can readers purchase tickets to your concert?
All bookings are at Dymocks Armidale in the Beardy Street Mall. Their phone number is 6771 4558.
Thank you Michael.