On the Couch with Paul Grabowsky

Arts Review On the Couch Paul GrabowskyWho is Paul Grabowsky?
I’m a pianist, composer, artistic director, and professor who enjoys dreaming.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Allow myself a bit more downtime.

Who inspires you and why?
People who have big visions, articulate them with clarity and attempt to realize them with determination. Gough Whitlam was one of them, Eddie Mabo another.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Give all children music education throughout their schooling. Teach them to play, listen and trust.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Moggs Creek. I love that stretch of coast, and a walk on the beach with my dog represents a model of heaven.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I’d take them to Red Hill, where a friend has a magnificent property where grapes are abundant, together with their alluring by-product.

What are you currently reading?
The Dying Grass by William T Vollman and Stalin: Paradoxes of Power by Stephen Kotkin.

What are you currently listening to?
Mooroolbark by Barney McCall

Happiness is?
Not thinking about whether you are happy or not.

What does the future hold for you?
Quite a bit: music theatre projects, recordings, commissions, concerts, a major project at Monash University, life.

Born in Lae, Papua New Guinea (1958) Paul Grabowsky was raised in Melbourne where he attended Wesley College. During the late 70’s he became prominent in the music scene in Melbourne, working in various jazz, theatre and cabaret projects.

He lived and worked in Europe and the US from 1980-85, during which time he performed with many jazz luminaries including Chet Baker, Art Farmer and Johnny Griffin. He returned to Australia in 1986 and established a reputation as one of Australia’s leading jazz musicians with such bands as his own trio and sextet, the Wizards of Oz and as musical director for singer Vince Jones.

Paul was musical director of Tonight Live with Steve Vizard from 1990-1992, and Commissioning Editor (Arts and Entertainment) for ABC Television 1995-98. He has written the scores for over twenty feature film scores in Australia, the UK and US including Innocence (Paul Cox), Last Orders, The Eye of the Storm, Words and Pictures (Fred Schepisi) and Shiner (John Irvin). His television credits include the series Phoenix and Janus, and the Emmy-winning Empire Falls. His works for the theatre include two operas and various multimedia works.

He is the Founding Artistic Director of the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO), with which he tours both nationally and internationally. Recent AAO projects have concentrated on collaborations with traditional and contemporary indigenous performers, something that Paul passionately advocates.

He has won five ARIA awards (most recently in 2014 for his recording The Bitter Suite which also won an AIR award), two Helpmann awards, several Bell Awards and a Deadly award. He was the Sydney Myer Performing Artist of the Year in 2000, and received the Melbourne Prize for Music in 2007.

He was Artistic Director of the Queensland Music Festival from 2005-2007 and was Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival of Arts for 2010 and 2012, and is currently a Professor at Monash University, and director of the Monash University Academy of the Performing Arts and the Monash Art Ensemble. In 2014 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to music and arts administration.

Paul’s upcoming performances include: Monash Art Ensemble: Beyond Borders featuring Mark Helias and Nasheet Waits on Thursday 1 October at Sydney’s Verbrugghen Hall, and the Rob Burke CD launch: The Power of the Idea on Tuesday 6 October at Melbourne’s Bennetts Lane Jazz Club.

Image: Paul Grabowsky