Along with my passion for early music is a particular enjoyment and love of music written for the violoncello, usually referred to simply as the cello.
Playing classical music authentically has lured Anthony Albrecht to its favour. An Aussie boy, who has been playing cello since he was seven years of age, Anthony originally hails from Newcastle in NSW.
In a fusion of expertise and performance, Anthony Albrecht has been recently playing works by the master composers such as that of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) specifically his Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello.
These works have gained contemporary celebrity status, because they are legendary and inspired by a highlight of my library The Cello Suites (2010 Economists Book of the Year), a terrifically told tale about an epic quest undertaken by a Canadian rock critic Eric Siblin, who had an epiphany of sorts when attending a musical recital of Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites written for cello.
Anthony Albrecht has performed the suites from New York to Newcastle, while enjoying his own journey of discovery about the musical world he has decided to forge his career within. Hot off the press: he has just moved to London, where he will now be living and since I began to pen this profile, it’s become a case of ‘home and away’
How exciting for a young musician to be in the centre of it all, where he can expand both his knowledge and experience.
Anthony is going from strength to strength, as he embraces the ever-expanding early and classical music world, playing with passion, dedication, energy and wide-ranging colour.
Studying a Master of Music and receiving a Scholastic Distinction in Historical Performance at the renowned Juilliard School in New York City, must be an experience to be treasured I am sure.
It was my pleasure to meet him in Sydney recently, along with his talented musical colleagues of the Australian Haydn Ensemble.
They were busy planning their 2015 program, which we look forward to reading about and reviewing here on the ‘circle’ soon.
Albrecht has considerable cello skills, having enjoyed ‘playing Bach together, eating raw herring and de-weeding the tennis court’ with one of the world’s foremost international exponents of the cello Pieter Wispelwey, who has played in Australia many times and is acknowledged as being a charismatic master of the craft.
He was introduced to Pieter through his ‘teachers and friends Neal Peres Da Costa and Daniel Yeadon (to whom he says ‘I owe my life as an early musician’).
Anthony said of Pieter “It’s an amazing experience being in the presence of an artist such as Pieter. One of the most striking realisations for me is that he is very much still on the journey of discovery, just like me, still searching for ever-more nuanced beauty in the sound of the cello.
Working one-on-one with Pieter has been a great reminder that music is a life-long undertaking, the passion must always be renewed!
The most memorable advice he gave me was to think of the notes of Bach like the ingredients of alchemy; mixing, blending and experimenting with them to create extraordinary variety and richness of colour in the interweaving harmony.
His most memorable adjective: “You need to make that note sound really ‘expensive’!”*
Celebrated composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) is high on the list of composers Anthony Albrecht admires.
Playing with the Australian Haydn Ensemble for him is a very rewarding experience.
Haydn was a prolific composer, whose living was earned working privately for a wealthy family in Austria, where isolated from what was happening in the big cities of Europe musically, was as he said ‘forced to become original’.
Anthony played at a concert in New York with the ‘Australian Haydn Quartet’ at St Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village.
A review of the concert by Michael Miller of New York Arts observed how impoverished New Yorkers have been in the past for ‘historically informed concerts’.
He remarked on how that was changing now since the ‘the founding of the Historical Performance Program at Juilliard under the direction of the irresistible Monica Huggett in the fall of 2009 and since 2012 under that of Robert Mealy (also Orchestra Director of the BEMF Orchestra).
He noted how ‘the first crop of students is on the loose in the city, and they are dangerous!’.
This is so good to hear, challenge and new interpretations are good for the future of all music.
Sounds like Anthony has had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time.
However, as I discovered, Anthony also wisely knows that it takes hard work, dedication and persistence to forge a career in his chosen field.
His list of accomplishments and credentials after only a decade out of high school (2004) is more than impressive.
During that time he has won a number of scholarships, competitions and received cultural trust grants.
Using his time well, he gained a degree in the Liberal Arts and Sciences from Sydney University, with honours in Geography and has honed his German fluency, which will be sure to assist in interpreting old scores as his career advances.
His performance experience to date is also diverse, interesting and extensive and his professional life now encompasses playing with among others, the Australian Haydn Ensemble (2013-2014), Pinchgut Opera (2014), Orchestra of the Antipodes (2014), New Vintage Baroque (ongoing), Salut! Baroque (2012), Sydney Consort (2011-2012), Pacific Opera (2012), Choir and Orchestra of St Laurence (2012).
Anthony had previously travelled both internationally and nationally, collaborating with colleagues in some very exciting period and modern ensembles, as well as a number of interesting bands; do so love the idea of the ‘Conjurers of Darkness’. His solo performances include at The Juilliard School, The Frick Collection and Trinity Church on Wall St in New York City and the Boston Early Music Festival as well as the Musica Viva Festival in Sydney.
Just to keep the whole thing real, he worked as a Railroad Worker at Pilbara, Western Australia – surely an interesting story there too?
The music of friends, as chamber music is often described today, is indeed appealing and wins many people over to its favour especially when they hear it played in the original setting it was designed for.
Usually this is a more intimate space than a large concert hall, one in which the considered architectural elements of the room, based on the ‘golden mean’ of measurements, both aids the ambiance and helps resonate the sounds with greater depth and clarity. In such a setting ‘sound’ is not required, except that which comes naturally from their superb instruments.
The final concert in the Australian Haydn Ensemble’s 2014 program, which Anthony Albrecht will be an integral part of, will be under the skilled direction of Australia’s musical genius, conductor and teacher Dr Erin Helyard.
As a Lecturer in historical musicology, Helyard is busy inspiring a whole new generation of young musicians, including Anthony Albrecht as they ‘combine musicological and historical enquiry with a passion for live music in contemporary culture’.
Going forward Anthony Albrecht has also been accepted into the PhD programs of the Royal College of Music, The Guildhall School and the Leeds School of Music (2014-2017) and will be playing with the Australian Haydn Ensemble in their 2015 program.
Must say it makes this ‘old girl’ happy that the future of early music in Australia is in such good hands, as those of Anthony Albrecht, cellist. Rose Niland‘s singled out his playing in her recent review of a ‘sublime’ Australian Haydn Ensemble concert in Sydney. This certainly heralds the fact that we will be sure to hear a great deal more about this masterly young player.
Based on just his ability to face challenges and embrace diversity, Anthony Albrecht is sure to remain sensitive to both subtle change and nuances of style, as he helps to present and make accessible music masterpieces, while continuing to give inspirational performances.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014
*Quote Anthony Albrecht, October 8, 2014
Image of Pieter Wispelway and Anthony Albrecht: Supplied