Guitar Perspectives 2020 – some student works to savour, right here

Xanthe Lowe-Brown performs Brasilerinho by João Pernambuco as part of Guitar Perspectives 2020.
Xanthe Lowe-Brown performs Brasilerinho by João Pernambuco as part of Guitar Perspectives 2020.

The Guitar Perspectives Online Celebration 2020, held late last month, featured 42 videos showcasing the breadth and diversity of the Melbourne Conservatorium's renowned Guitar program.

Staff, students, alumni and special international guests recorded videos from home to share via the Guitar Perspectives YouTube channel.

Dr Ken Murray, Head of Guitar at the Conservatorium, said: "Music was contributed from all levels of our program, from first-year students to PhD researchers. The theme this year, for obvious reasons, was music made in isolation, with the means of recording ranging from the simplest iPhone through to semi-professional home studios.

"I'm so proud of the work our student and recent graduates produced which, as the videos below show, was of a very high standard indeed."

The Quiet North, written and performed by Paul Carey, Graduate Diploma student at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

"I live in Brunswick, the hip inner north of Melbourne," says Carey. "It’s full of bars, cafes, music venues, but make no mistake, it’s suburbia all the way. Families, dogs, power tools, basically lots of noise, and yet, quite surprisingly this year with most people at home, a strange calm has fallen over the area and it has been very peaceful in the quiet north."

Brasilerinho – João Pernambuco, performed by Xanthe Lowe-Brown, second-year Bachelor of Music student at the Melbourne Conservatorium.

In Lowe-Brown's words: "Brasileirinho by João Pernambuco symbolises the start of my exploration into playing Brazilian choro music and my experimentation with the rich sound of the nylon string guitar. As my teacher, Doug de Vries says, 'I have fallen in love with the nylon string guitar'.

"At last year’s Guitar Perspectives Winter Festival I was inspired by the magnificent guitar virtuoso Yamandu Costa to delve into the enticing world of Brazilian music. Translated as ‘the little Brazilian,’ Brasileirinho evokes the playfulness and effervescence that childhood brings.

"With the sun shining through the trees, children playing and birds chirping in the background, the setting of my video aims to capture the essence of childhood and to foreground the simple pleasures in life which we sometimes take for granted in our modern world."

Ripples in the Reflection, written and performed by Kaine Foster, first-year Bachelor of Music student at the Melbourne Conservatorium of music

In Foster's words: "Ripples in the Reflection is a piece I wrote about two years ago to reflect on events and challenge myself with more stamina-based playing, with an added challenge of some odd time signatures going back and forth. Also, my capo broke so I had to make do with a slide and rubber bands."

God of the Northern Forest – Phillip Houghton, performed by Willow Shortt, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music graduate.

Willow Shortt graduated from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in mid-2020 and immediately began a Graduate Diploma in Psychology with a specific interest in the psychology of performing on musicians' mental wellbeing. God of the Northern Forest by Phillip Houghton (1954-2017) is a piece near to her heart as she first heard it and attempted it as a teenager in Mildura.

The piece draws inspiration from the Australian bush in Eltham, specifically the Eltham Copper Butterfly, and also the painting by Paul Klee with which it shares a title. Klee’s painting depicts a dark, brooding forest with deep contrasts between light and dark.

Willow spent some time in Eltham early in the year and witnessed first-hand the brooding, foggy and sometimes eerie bushland, contrasted with stunning sunshine and wildlife, and aimed to capture this chiaroscuro (light and dark) effect in her performance.