On the Couch with Andrew Bukenya

Andrew Bukenya photo by Kurt SneddonWho is Andrew Bukenya?
Ugandan descended, English born, London raised and shaken, Japan stirred, Australian settled arts enthusiast.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I think it is a minor miracle that I ended up here, doing things that I love and making it a part of my life, so nothing really springs to mind.

Who inspires you and why?
Maya Angelou, because she turned her dark silence into something golden, and made the world sit up and listen; Composer Shirley Thompson, for turning no’s into yes’s; Jessye Norman for giving me her time and THAT voice; and Mum for walking so I could run.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Give more people access to education and make the arts more valued and available to all. Let more women run the world so that there is more balance across the spectrum

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Equal parts my home and the next destination; the former, because there are no demands being made on me and the latter for a chance to explore unknown territory.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Wendy’s (not so) Secret Garden. It’s an oasis that is a testament to love, resilience, vision and compassion that gives you incredible views of the harbour, while offering you the chance to reflect; an inside view if you will. It is equal parts majestic, awe inspiring and peaceful.

What are you currently reading?
I always feel bereft if I leave the house without a book… I recently devoured Demon Copperfield by Barbara Kingsolver) – her gift is utterly spellbinding. I am also looking at history through 2 very different lenses; Booth by Karen Joy Fowler, as I never really studied American history at school and it is a fascinating portrait of women in the testosterone charged background to Abraham Lincoln’s rise to power; and Gay Bar (Why We Went Out) by Jeremy Atherton Lin – evocative, funny and beautifully paced prose. I have also been dipping into the poetry of Uncle Wes Marne, Through Old Eyes.

I recently had the incredible experience of recording Mind What You Think after being selected by its Author Dr Karen Graham. I had never listened to audiobooks before, and I didn’t before starting the project. Once finishing, I dived into Miriam Margolyes’s reading of Dickens’ Bleak House and devoured it… an incredible feat of acting that I found profoundly moving and Wil Roach’s Black, Gay & Underage – which I really enjoyed as a reading experience,  the audio version is no less an experience

What are you currently listening to?
Yasmin, the debut album by Malaika Mfalme, a beautiful enveloping audio portrait of grief – it’s like a hug, pretty much anything Bach related, Palestrina’s Song of Songs, Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis for the sheer joy of Baroque music, Whitney Houston, I Go To The Rock for inspiration, and Zela Margossian – a pianist of exceptional talent and compassion whose career I have followed for a few years and it is a thrill to see her being embraced outside of Australia too.

Happiness is?
Being able to be content with what you have.

What does the future hold for you?
Since tomorrow is not promised, I am content not to know… A dear friend told me, “What happens to you happens for you” and I seem to have adopted that as part of my personal philosophy.

Andrew and a hand-picked vocal ensemble can be seen in Bach in Colour – an intimate and joyous acapella program of vocal music inspired by the Baroque master, at The Neilson – Walsh Bay Arts Precinct on 27 & 28 January, as part of the 2024 Sydney Festival. For more information, visit: www.sydneyfestival.org.au for details.

Image: Andrew Bukenya – photo by Kurt Sneddon