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Thursday, August 02, 2018 1:55pm

5 minutes with Amy Dickson

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We have a chat with Amy Dickson ahead of her performance with the ASO at Masters 5: Romantic Rachmaninov.

You will be performing the Australian premiere of James MacMillans Saxophone concerto, how did this work come about and what is most exciting about the work?

I have admired Sir James’s music for a long time and have tried out music for other instruments on the saxophone. When the opportunity came to have a new concerto, I was beyond thrilled. When I heard it for the first time in rehearsal, I was blown away. This is a hugely important work for the saxophone repertoire.

You’ve accomplished a lot for someone so young what do you consider to be the most significant accomplishment in your career to date?

Thank you. I think that it’s probably the new music I’ve worked on. This concerto is definitely one of the most special parts of my musical career so far. Another important even for me was winning the BRIT award in 2013.

Who has influenced you most as a musician, and why?

My teachers, Melinda Atkins (Sydney), Kyle Horch (London) and Arno Bornkamp (Amsterdam). I am constantly influenced by and admire greatly, any musician who makes their instrument sing. Some performers have the ability to do it in such a beautiful way that they make you forget which instrument they are playing, and it just becomes pure music.

How do you prepare for concert day do you have any superstitions or routines?

I like to get to the hall very early, to warm my lungs and embouchure up. I find that the ritual of putting my makeup on is the turning point between daytime craziness (rehearsals, interviews, talks, etc), and  nighttime performance. It only takes 10 minutes, but instantly puts me in performance mode.

You have performed concerts the world over.  What has been your most memorable concert performance both as a performer and an attendee?

As a performer: the final of the YPA, in 2004 at the Sydney Opera House, with the SSO. I think half the hall were related to me and it was a very special night.

As an audience member: Boulez conducting Pli Selon Pli with Barbara Hannigan, at the Festival Hall.

What is the piece of music that has left a lasting impression on you and why? Where were you when you first heard it?

I think the most life-changing piece for me was the Glass Violin Concerto, No. 1. I was played it by a friend, and instantly fell in love with it. Then I transcribed it, recorded it, and have toured it ever since. It has been an important part of my musical life, and I still love it. I gave the very first performances on a tour of Australia and NZ - and the first Australian orchestra to play it were the ASO!

If you weren’t a professional saxophonist, what would you be doing?

I have absolutely no idea. I don’t think there’s even an answer to that! Playing the saxophone has just always been the thing I felt I was meant to do

 What is most challenging about being a professional saxophonist?

The physicality of playing. It’s quite demanding and requires a lot of extra-curricular work to keep everything balanced.

If you could meet any composer (who ever lived) who would it be and why?

Beethoven. For someone about whom so much has been written, he is still such an enigma.

Finish this sentence, Music is………. 

The most honest and therefore valuable form of expression we have.

What do you enjoy most about performing?

Working with the other musicians on stage. It’s absolutely magical when musical communication is at it’s best.

 Where will Amy Dickson be in 5 years time?

Hopefully doing the same kind of things she’s doing now! I’m very happy with life right now, and am grateful for where I am.

Tell us something that the audience wouldn’t know about you?

I have just had a little baby girl! She is 10 months old and utterly adorable.

Outside of music what is your passion?

I’m a very keen swimmer, and when at home in London, really enjoy entertaining at home.

For those that have never attended a classical concert what would you say to them to encourage them to attend Master Series 5 Romantic Rachmaninov?

Come to hear an absolutely stunning piece of new repertoire being performed in Australia for the first time. It will be a very special couple of concerts, and the premiere can never be repeated!

Masters 5: Romantic Rachmaninov
Fri 17 August, 8pm
Sat 18 August, 6.30pm
Adelaide Town Hall

Book now!

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