A Q&A with Elisabeth Sellars from Sutherland Trio
What is your goal/s for your Local Heroes series in 2016?
To bring a sense of joy and new perspective to our audiences.
What do you think about when you perform live?
All going well, the music! The shape and gesture of a phase, a harmony that requires a certain colour.
Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?
At the moment, it’s the brilliant British violinist and composer George Frederick Pinto who was born during a time of intense musical cross-fertilisation between the continent and London. He died at 21 of tuberculosis. I have been playing his music and writing about him as part of my PHD at Monash University for four years and trying to imagine how he thought, played and composed. He wrote some incredibly beautiful music. It’s been a fantastic experience to research someone who lived 200 years ago.
Where is your favourite place on Earth and why?
This is very difficult to answer but Wilsons Promontory National Park is one of my all-time favourite places. I also love New York and London.
If you could swap places with any other human or animal who or what would you choose and why?
I think my dog Plato has a pretty good life. I often wish I could stay home and sleep on the sofa and be taken for walks just like he does!
Who is your ideal audience?
The full range of age groups and professions.
What colours speak to you? Have you ever experienced synaesthesia?
I am always drawn to blue as it immediately infuses me with a sense of calm and beauty. I think it must be the association with the sea. I haven't experienced synaesthesia but I do sometimes associate colours with pieces. Sutherland Trio played a piece called Symphony in Yellow at Melbourne Recital Centre a couple of years ago. I spent quite a lot of time thinking about how to align the timbres and harmonies with the colour yellow.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
This one would need multiple answers, but I am incredibly inspired by theatre director Simon Phillips and composer Mary Finsterer. I also have a big admirer of violinist Isabelle Faust.
What is your favourite book and why?
I have far too many favourite books to answer this one, but highlights include: Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, any Edgar Allen Poe, the Bronte Sisters, Milan Kunderer's The Unbearable Lightness of Being
What is your favourite piece of music and why?
There can't be one answer to this but Bach is always there as an undercurrent. I return again and again to the solo works and always experience them as if it were for the first time. The love and reverence within them are truly transcendent and life always feels truly extraordinary afterwards.
How did you come to play your instrument/s?
My parents wanted their children to have a musical education….we were all given piano lessons and one day someone gave me a violin to try!