Jennifer Eriksson completed her initial musical training at the NSW State Conservatorium of Music studying music education and cello with Barbara Woolley. She subsequently undertook viola da gamba lessons with Jaap ter Linden at the Rotterdam Conservatorium for three years where she completed post-graduate studies in baroque music. She founded The Marais Project in 2000 to perform the complete works of the great French gambist and composer, Marin Marais. As of 2015 the ensemble is more than 85% through this task. They are the first Australian ensemble to attempt to present the complete Marais. Jennifer also directs the Musica Viva in Schools ensemble, Sounds Baroque. Sounds Baroque has presented 2000 concerts of four specially arranged baroque operas for children over the past 25 years and gives more than 80 professional performances per annum. Jenny has recorded five commercial CDs and premiered many new works for the viol by Australian jazz and classical composers including Paul Stanhope, Rosalind Page, Dan Walker, Kevin Hunt, Paul Cutlan, Stephen Yates, Matt McMahon, Matt Keegan, Alice Chance and Matthew Perry. Jennifer has appeared several times on The Music Show with Andrew Ford, is regularly interviewed by ABC Local Radio and has completed numerous ABC Classic FM studio recordings. She is believed to be the only Australian performing on the electric viola da gamba and has commissioned a number of new pieces for this instrument. In 2014 Jenny appeared with jazz sax player Matt Keegan’s quintet premièring a suite of pieces he wrote for jazz band featuring the electric gamba.
Jenny Eriksson’s concerts
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Blog posts and interviews with Jenny Eriksson
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We asked Jenny a few questions
- How old were you when you decided to be a musician and what led you the instrument(s) you now play? I wanted to be a musician as long as I can remember but took some years to work out which instrument. I originally got into music school on piano but went on an exchange to the US for 12 months and decided to re-audition on my second instrument, the cello, when I got back to Australia. After 4 years at the Sydney Conservatorium I graduated and started working as a cellist. My world changed when I heard the wonderful cellist and gambist Catherine Finnis perform the famous “Is it finished” (Es ist vollbracht) aria from Bach’s St John Passion in an early authentic performance directed by Richard Gill. To say it hit me between the eyes is an understatement. I could not believe the sound. My cello teacher Barbara Woolley knew Catherine and introduced us. Barbara actually told me I would be a more “natural” gambist than a cellist. I found that hard to take at the time but its proved to be true. A few years later I sold my cello and went to Holland to study the viola da gamba for 3 years and the rest is, as they say, history. I’m sad to say I’ve not owned a cello since but my gamba and I are more than good friends. I also own and play the Pardessus viol, the treble viol and tenor viol.
- When you’re not rehearsing/performing/teaching, where are you most likely to be? Running! I run about 10kms per day most days. I’ve completed one marathon and several half marathons. I actually run a half marathon each year on my birthday just to prove to myself that I am not really 12 months older. I also enjoy cooking for my family. My son is also a music student at Sydney Conservatorium.
- After you finish a concert, what is the first drink you want to have in your hand? White wine (sav blanc or chardonnay), cold! I’ve never been known to say “no” to a glass of Australian sparkling either.
- If there weren’t external factors involved, how long do you think a concert should go for? We did away with intervals in The Marais Project some years ago. We schedule 50 to 55 minutes of music per concert so people know they will get in on the hour and be on their way 60 to 70 minutes later if they need to be. We always serve a free glass of wine or a cool drink to audiences as that is the kind of friendly, collaborative atmosphere we like. Our musos also mix with the audience afterwards, its a real privilege to hear from people what they thought of the concert. I think music is a social and cultural activity so the barriers between players and listeners should be minimal. I am quite comfortable talking to the audience and playing as well. Few people know the French baroque viol repertoire so if we don’t sell it nobody will come.
- When should we clap? As we perform many relatively short pieces organised into suites its good to wait until a particular group of numbers is finished until the applause starts. But like all performers, we are “tarts” for public acclaim and will take whatever applause we can get when we can get it!
A member of
- The Marais Project
- Seaven Teares
- viol consort
- Sounds Baroque
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