On the Couch with Rae Howell

Arts Review On the Couch Rae Howell photo by Anne SkilbeckWho is Rae Howell?
I wear a few hats to keep life interesting, but primarily I’m a music composer and performer, and director of Sunwrae (an ensemble, label & sheet-music publishing entity).

What would you do differently to what you do now?
In general I’d love to spend a lot less time doing business administration, and a lot more time creating and producing work! Music has always been my thing, so I can’t imagine a different industry entirely…

Who inspires you and why?
Creative people who get out there and do interesting things, step outside their comfort zones, see places, and immerse themselves in different environments. I like the way new experiences shape a person and their creative potential.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I like to think that in my own lunchbox I’m attempting to do my part, because with all that is going on the world, I think individuals have to make a difference one step at a time: have compassion, treat as equals, recycle/reuse, think sustainability, listen, be present, love, share, encourage positivity, educate, respect… I could go on, but you hopefully get the picture.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Holidays are rather foreign to me. It’s usually a case of a ‘change is as good as a holiday’, so the new places, faces and experiences I have (mostly through music projects) usually give me the energy I need to keep on keeping on. Those kind of memories last for much longer than holidays I find too. One of these days I will have a holiday though…

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Well, if in Victoria, it would be the Great Ocean Road, for obvious reasons, and the Fitzroy to Thornbury stretch of shops, eateries, bars. You can’t go past dinner, wine & conversations with long lost friends. If in London, it’d be my local pub The Scolt Head, a narrow boat ride along Regent’s Canal, Camden market, and a walk along the River Thames from London Bridge to Westminster. Perhaps Gordon’s Wine Bar too. You see all the major sites from the River, but more so, you see the city from quite different perspectives.

What are you currently reading?
Recently I’ve sadly neglected fiction as I’ve been snowed under with my current projects (although there’s usually a small pile of businessy books to remind me to remain focused and organised). Earlier this year I delved into Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, Patrick Süskind’s Perfume and I revisited To Kill a Mocking Bird… all striking reads!

What are you currently listening to?
This ebbs and flows a lot, but this week it’s been Lhasa De Sela’s La Llorona, Modern String Quartet’s Jazz Für Streichquartett, Bill Laurance’s Flint, Andrea Keller’s Family Portraits, and the classic Buena Vista Social Club.

Happiness is?
Being on the flip-side of a project, hearing the wind through the trees, the dawn chorus in a rainforest, a spectacular view of nature… and then catching my breath with great friends, not too far from my old grand piano…

What does the future hold for you?
Lots more music projects! Currently, I’m about to embark on an Australian tour to launch my new solo albums & sheet music publication, it’s been a long time in the making, so I’m looking forward to getting the show on the road… after that, well, you’ll have to wait and see…

Graduating with a Bachelor of Music from Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at The University of Melbourne and Masters of Music from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Rae Howells fellowships include Musician/Composer in Residence posts at The Banff Centre in Canada; Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida (US); the ARENA International Theatre Festival in Erlangen, Germany; Instituto Sacatar in Bahia, Brazil (UNESCO Aschberg Bursary); The Visby International Centre for Composers in Sweden; Ho Chi Minh City Opera House Vietnam, ECCO International in The Gambia West Africa; La Sonora in Argentina; and The Edward Said National Conservatoire of Music in Palestine. During these residencies, Rae has worked alongside some of world’s most prolific artists.

Currently she works with sonic and visual artist Jon Cohrs (NY, US) on an electronic music project Rabbitsss. Rae’s album releases include Never Stops to Wait (2005), several Live Eavesdropping CDs and DVDs (2003- 2007), Autumn Never Fall (2009), Live at The Thornbury Theatre (2010), Heavy Forest Air (2013) and Penguins (by Rabbitsss, 2014). Rae has appeared live at leading arts festivals internationally and is also the founder of the touring concert series, Eavesdropping – showcasing new music and visual arts.

Rae has recently released Invisible Wilderness: Volume I and Volume II, and will be performing a series of concerts at: Memo Music Hall, St Kilda (18 September); Colbourne Ave, Glebe (24 September); Wauchope Arts (26 September) and St Mary’s Church, Brisbane (2 October). For more information, visit: www.raehowellmusic.com or www.sunwrae.com for details.

Image: Rae Howell – photo by Anne Skilbeck

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