Sydney based pianist Sally Whitwell has created a finely crafted niche for herself as an exponent of the solo piano music of Philip Glass. In February 2013, she will perform alongside Glass at the Perth Festival, in a work partly commissioned by the Perth Festival. Glass’ Complete Piano Etudes comprises 20 works, the last three of which were written for performance at the Perth event. In the three part performance, Glass will be joined by Japanese pianist Maki Namekawa and by Sally Whitwell, both of them specialists in the music of Glass.
Sally Whitwell’s debut classical album Mad Rush won the 2011 ARIA award for Best Classical Album. Her quirky second album The Good, The Bad and The Awkward in which she plays an eclectic collection of instruments from piano to melodica, enjoyed phenomenal success. She had the rare opportunity to work directly with Glass during his visit to Sydney in 2012.
SoundsLikeSydney spoke with Sally Whitwell at the time that Mad Rush was released:
“I found that once I had a really solid understanding of the structure of the piece, the memorisation itself was easy enough. The difficult thing about it is knowing exactly where you are in the music at any given time… I used some pictorial help to do this,” she said.
“I was completely terrified at the time…. but I’m so glad I persevered with it! I feel I am now really intimate with the music, and I’m of the opinion that it’s completely necessary to be intimate with the music before you decide to record or perform it.”
Knowing that Philip Glass himself rejects the term “minimalism”, SoundsLikeSydney asked Whitwell what “minimalism” meant to her: “I enjoy the way minimalist music requires me to listen differently. Each time that same phrase comes around again, it’s different; firstly because performers are human and cannot make any two phrases perfectly identical, and secondly because after hearing that phrase once, the listener is forever changed. Repeated experience of the same material, whether you’re creating it or appreciating it, breeds a certain familiarity yes, but also an insight, that feeling when you notice something new in a phrase that is ostensibly the same”.
Click here to read our review of The Good The Bad and The Awkward.
Click here to read Matthew Westwood’s feature on Sally Whitwell in The Australian.
In WA in February? You can hear Sally Whitwell
– in recital performing the music of Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, as well as Haydn and Schubert, at the Albany Entertainment Centre on February 13th.
– delivering a Master Class for 12-16 year olds on February 12th
– The Complete Etudes performance on February 16th is sold out; registrations for a waiting are being accepted. Click here.