It’s great to be back here. Somehow these trips are always extra exciting: being back here reminds me of the last time I was in Melbourne, 2 years ago, when I arrived in a mobile home after a 3,000-mile trip through the outback from Brisbane – fantastic! This time I’m here for a week at the Australian National Academy of Music, locally known as anam, and then some Elgar Concertos with Yan Pascal Tortelier and the Melbourne Symphony.Last year anam was controversially stripped of all its funding from the government, and faced closure until a huge international wave of pressure forced the government to reconsider, and it is now enjoying a well-deserved surge with the brilliant composer Brett Dean at its helm. I was truly delighted when Brett asked last year ‘could you just take the building over for a week?’. Er, Yes Mate! After a recital, a masterclass and a lecture, the highlight of the week is a performance with most of the students where we’ll occupy practically every space in the building playing improvisations and pieces we’ve devised during a week of workshops. The audience will roam around, then there’ll be a brief still point with everyone in the magnificent main hall, before we all process over to the bizarre and unique Butterfly Club, one of Melbourne’s hippest venues, opposite anam, for drinks, talks, and maybe a bit more entertainment. Australis has a very New-World-Yes feeling to it, where these kinds of projects can just happen….I feel at home here!
Music is the universal language of mankind.