On the Couch with Evan Lawson

AAR Evan Lawson - photo by Meghan ScerriWho is Evan Lawson?
I am a composer and conductor, living in Melbourne, with a passion for travel, history, politics and queer culture. I’m fascinated by a variety of music and passionate about bringing contemporary classical music to as many people as possible, as well as representing lesser heard voices in classical music – women, queer people and people of colour. I have studied music in Austria, the Czech Republic, the UK and Australia. I work as a freelance arts administrator to pay the bills.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
If I weren’t a musician and arts worker, I probably would have followed a politics or history route. I’ve always admired and been envious of dancers, too. But I am so lucky to work with culture, and do everything in my power to keep doing so.

Who inspires you and why?
SO many people! Eleanor Roosevelt, for her passion, humanity and generosity; Gough Whitlam and Paul Keating for their passion for Australian culture and its development; conductors Carlos Kleiber, Simone Young, Peter Eotvos, Paavo Jarvi and Simon Rattle; the opinions and work of art critic Robert Hughes; the humor of Tina Fey; composers Liza Lim, Brett Dean, Pierre Boulez, Kaija Saariaho, Toru Takemitsu, Richard Meale, among others; the vision and unorthodox artistry of drag queen Sasha Velour; the paintings of Katherine Phillimore, Arthur Boyd, Brett Whiteley; but probably most of all my musical collaborators and friends who trust me to create new and weird sounds for them.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’d like to think that contributing new music and cultural events changes people’s views and opinions of the world, but outside of that spreading accessible and affordable education to all.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
London, Berlin and NYC for the musical culture and history, Kyoto for the temples and food and Sydney for the beauty.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Royal Exhibition Building – my favourite old building in Melbourne, the beginning of national democracy and federations in Australia and a UNESCO site and a concert at Melbourne Recital Centre.

What are you currently reading?
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs.

What are you currently listening to?
Operas by Pascal Dusapin, the concertos of Henri Dutilleux, albums of Stevie Nicks, works by R. Murray Schafer, Johann Johannsson, Harrison Birtwistle, new album by Tale Of Us and anything sung by Diana Ross, Barbara Hannigan, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.

Happiness is?
A sunny day when I can have a sleep in and a morning to myself.

What does the future hold for you?
The US premiere of my opera-ballet Orpheus in June along with travel throughout the US and hopefully more exciting collaborations, musical endeavours and travel.

Evan is the Composer and Musical Director of Orpheus – a new opera-ballet – which will have its world premiere season at the Abbotsford Convent as part of the 2019 Midsumma Festival: 31 January – 3 February. For more information, visit: www.midsumma.org.au for details.

Image: Evan Lawson – photo by Meghan Scerri