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Thursday, December 21, 2017 11:11am

Five minutes with Emma Gregan


This week on the blog we have five fabulous minutes with the brilliant Emma Gregan. Emma is a Tutti Horn player and has been with the ASO since 2015. If you are curious to know about the quirks of Emma's instrument and what music she is listening to at the moment, read on and enjoy. 

I knew I'd make a career in music when: I got in trouble for skipping PE class to practise.

If I weren't a professional musician I'd be: A mathematician

Is there anything special about your actual instrument/does it have a name/any quirks? My horn has a beautiful silver garland on the bell with the maker’s name engraved in it, which is distinctive of its particular model. I tell all my students it says, “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” I always tell them in the first lesson when they’re too nervous to question it so most of them probably still think it’s true.

Who has influenced you most as a musician? My teachers back home in Brisbane, especially my first teacher Ysolt Clark, and all the wonderful friends I studied alongside through university.

If you could play a different instrument, which would you choose and why? I don’t know if I’d want to play it regularly but I’d love a go at the bagpipes because the whole concept of how it works is fascinating to me. Also the pipe organ because I think you’d get really toned legs playing the bass voice of Bach fugues with your feet. Lots of great options out there!

Which solo or moment in the (your instrument) orchestral repertoire is your favourite? Venus from The Planets by Holst opens with just four notes and for me it’s the moment that perfectly captures the beautiful and otherworldly sound of the horn.

Pictured: Emma Gregan aged 9

My most memorable performance/s with the ASO: There have been many, though Mendelssohn 5 with Nicholas McGegan and Beethoven 3 with Brett Dean were a couple of real highlights.

When you’re not performing or practicing, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? I write music both as a hobby and on request so I try to fit that in where I can around playing and teaching. I quite enjoy cooking, and lately have been getting into indoor bouldering, which is a weirdly addictive sport!

What are you listening to at the moment? Lately I keep coming back to an amazing recording of Monteverdi’s Orfeo by the Taverner Consort & Players.

Name three pieces of music you love, and why?  Mendelssohn’s 3rd Symphony because it’s the most fun piece to play on 4th horn, Strauss’s Symphonia Domestica because it’s an unparalleled masterpiece, and John Adams’ The Chairman Dances from Nixon in China because it’s got an amazing colourful glassy texture.

What has been your most memorable musical experience as an audience member? I went to see a production of Handel’s Faramondo with the Orchestra of the Antipodes in Brisbane a couple of years ago. It went for nearly four hours and the audience had to be given an A4 diagram of all the relationships between the characters because it was so complex; it was probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen on stage and I reckon I could have stayed for another four hours!

Pictured: Emma Gregan on a rehearsal day

Name three things people may not know about you?

  1.  I am trying to find the best eggplant dishes in Adelaide (currently no one comes close to the eggplant at China Chilli on Gouger Street, in case you’re interested)
  2.  I wanted to dye my hair blonde but my hairdresser said no
  3.  My favourite book is Catch-22

What’s your idea of a perfect day in Adelaide? Breakfast at Market St cafe, pick up some fruit and cheese from the Central Markets, swim all day with my friends at West Beach, and relax with some McLaren Vale wine in the garden in the evening!


Catch Emma in our first concert for the year: Gigs at Grainger 1: ASO does Latin with the Marmalade Man

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