Andrea Katz: A musical force whose fingers do the talking

AAR-Andrea-Katz-photo-by-Robert-CattoEqually familiar with Australian and international audiences, in her concerts Melbourne-based Argentinian pianist Andrea Katz, who counts University of Melbourne as her main affiliation, brings us into the past and back again.

She explores multiple cultures in a poetic, dramatic, and technically astute manner and demonstrates an impressive ability to capture the essence of work of great composers while she takes us on a musical journey that cuts straight to our emotions.

Her broad and versatile repertoire anchored in Argentinian tango traditions (with “porteño” beats and lyrics in honour of tango masters Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Gardel), Katz is the Director of two ensembles: Songmakers Australia – a vocal quartet with piano; and Klara Quartet – a piano and string group.

Following are select questions from Dr Jytte Holmqvist’s recent interview with Andrea Katz:

What composer and century stands out to you and why?
Many different composers and styles attract me. To quote John Lennon, ‘imagine there are no countries’.

What is the draw of Chamber Music, German Lieder and Grand Opera and what do they have in common?
I like working with other people. As such, a career as a solo pianist was never an option! In my opinion, you learn about subtlety from Lieder, collaboration from Chamber Music, and big feelings from Opera. Then you mix them together.

Why the piano as your preferred instrument? Your website features an achingly beautiful rendition of the Andante from Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 21, performed with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and you create musical poetry.
Thanks! I got hooked at the age of 7 when we moved to an apartment with a piano and got my first lessons from a friend of my parents, who were both string musicians.

Do you expect audiences to interact or behave a certain way?
Things are changing regarding audience’s behaviour and participation. We are going back, hopefully, to the time when audiences were allowed to express their excitement and could interact with the performers. Of course, it depends on what repertoire you are presenting but that can be made very clear by your behaviour on stage.

Do you identify with your music on a deeply personal level?
Not every piece resonates with me the same way. Sometimes I have to play unknown repertoire for my students but the repertoire I choose for my ensembles is always very close to my heart.

What does Tango mean to you as an Argentinian native?
People all over the world are fascinated by Tango, be it traditional or modern. Piazzolla broke the mould of raw, smouldering passions by incorporating his love of Bach into the rhythmical patterns. He was very unpopular in Argentina until he had great success in Europe.

Lastly, what are your immediate future plans?
More concerts with my 2 ensembles. First up is The Australian Connection at the Melbourne Recital Centre – a program of Australian Art Song celebrating Merlyn’s career and a big birthday!

Andrea Katz: A musical force whose fingers do the talking

Author: Dr Jytte Holmqvist (June 2022)

Image: Andrea Katz – photo by Robert Catto