As Australian musicians continue the long road to recovery through the continued COVID-19 crisis, thousands of devoted music-lovers are showing their support through Melbourne Recital Centre’s Local Artist Appeal. The Centre is on track to raise a staggering $1 million for local Australian artists this year, with over $500,000 received since the Appeal launched.
The fund ensures artists are guaranteed performance and commissioning fees for their work, despite an uncertain and ever-changing environment, where arts venues have been forced to close their doors multiple times.
More than 190 artists have benefitted from the Local Artist Appeal already, with over $320,000 of the total raised distributed so far. This vital support is enabling local artists to keep performing at Melbourne Recital Centre, sharing their music with audiences who are equally passionate about it.
Over 198 different activities have been supported including live concerts, digital broadcasts, outdoor DJ sets, recording sessions, open rehearsals, outdoor stage performances, projections and Learning and Access programs to help bring music into the lives of Victorians of all ages who are experiencing disadvantage.
Artists who have benefitted include beloved independent classical musicians Anna Goldsworthy (Seraphim Trio), pianist Sophie Koh and Zoe Knighton (Flinders Quartet). Speaking of the plight of artists, Zoe said: “It’s completely overwhelming for an artist to deal with [the many challenges of COVID-19] and [detracts] from what it is we do best, which is making music,” she said.
“That’s the magic of Melbourne Recital Centre. It’s not just looking after the music – it’s making sure the musicians can really focus on creating the art. It’s that simple act of knowing we’re noticed and appreciated – and when we can’t perform, that we’re being missed – that’s going to get us through,” said Zoe.
Acclaimed multi-skilled singer, songwriter and musician, Sophie Koh said, “I had forgotten what live music does to my heart. For the first time in more than 12 months, I was a punter at a musical performance. When the musicians bowed their very first note, an enormous waive of feeling that cannot be described with words overcame my heart and my body,” she said.
“I had forgotten what it feels like to experience live music and how important it was to my mental well-being and my physical body chemistry. It re-ignited and reinforced how vital it is as a human, as a society, to be immersed in sound and human performance.”
“Our bodies need it, our minds cannot survive without it, our communities drown without it. Musicians are heroes. They allow us to feel in ways we can hardly describe,” said Sophie.
The Centre’s 2021 Artist and Writer-in-Residence Anna Goldsworthy said: “As musicians our relationship with our audience is a type of lifeblood and provides a necessary feedback loop. Performance is a collaborative experience not just with each other but with our audience.”
“COVID-19 severed that connection. One of the lessons of last year has been the fragility of all our creations; it is more important than ever that we keep these human arts alive,” said Anna.
This comment was echoed by local pianist, composer and arranger John McAll who said: “Melbourne Recital Centre has always proven to be a sanctuary for works that are outside the mainstream musical sphere,” he said.
“Through COVID-19 they did everything they could to continue to offer us support. This served to bring a much-needed confidence to a decimated arts sector,” said John.
The Local Artist Appeal follows the Centre’s successful 2020 Performer Support Fund, which raised over $200,000 in relief for artists whose performances at the Centre were directly affected by the pandemic.
Local artists have always been at the core of what makes Melbourne Recital Centre the best place to hear music. For musicians like Zoe Knighton, a donation to the Centre’s artists at this time is: “a measure of the necessity of music.”
For more information and to make a donations to the Local Artist Appeal, visit: melbourne-recital-centre.giveeasy.org for details.
Image: Zoe Knighton performing at the Melbourne Recital Centre’s 12th Birthday Gala Concert – photo by Michael Christian