Possessing a poise and maturity way beyond her years, Stefanie Farrands (viola 2008) is articulate and considered as she reflects upon her time in Berlin, moving home to Australia to join the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra as Principal Violist, and the opportunities now afforded to her after winning the 2016 Freedman Classical Fellowship.
‘Winning the Fellowship has brought a dream of mine to life’ she states. Taking home the Freedman last September will result in the opportunity to be part of the creative process of commissioning works for the viola by Australian composers. These works will be performed and recorded both at home and abroad, and will offer Stefanie the chance to collaborate with Brett Dean in Berlin, ‘which is a city that holds a very special place in my heart’.
Stefanie is well aware of the impact that these works will have for other violists. ‘I feel honoured to be able to do this for the viola… being able to hold a brand new set of commissions that I have helped to mould for future musicians to have access to’.
However this is, no doubt, only a small part of the incredible musical legacy Stefanie will set for the Australian and international music scene. She was a founding member of the Hamer Quartet during her final year of secondary school, and by the age of 28, has already performed with several renowned international orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Camerata Salzburg. In Australia she is a regular guest with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australian World Orchestra and is a core member of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.
Such is her drive, talent and passion, Stefanie was one of very few musicians to have been accepted into ANAM straight from school. She then went on to study and work in Berlin for 5 years, undertaking tutelage with renowned Violist Tabea Zimmermann at the Hochschule für Musik, Hanns Eisler Berlin. She talks fondly of her time there, and the wonders of the German musical scene. ‘It is closely connected to the history of the country, the language and the culture. I play music differently because I had this experience’.
In 2015, Stefanie applied for the position of Principal Violist with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, a chair that had been held by her predecessor for almost 30 years. She had mixed emotions about returning to Australia, leaving behind incredible musicians and friends in Berlin, but is thrilled to now be living in a place with a mix of high culture and stunning nature. There are just so many things to love about Tasmania. ‘Working in a small orchestra full of skilled musicians, the mountains, the air, the beaches and the wildlife. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I do and live in such an incredible place. It pushes me to dream and discover’.
For Stefanie, her time at ANAM will never leave her. Her fondest memories were having the opportunity to be involved in master classes with some of the greatest String Quartets from around the world including the Borodin Quartet, Arditti Quartet, Tokyo Quartet, Artemis Quartet and Jerusalem Quartet. ‘It means a lot to me to have studied at such an incredible place with such wonderful musicians. ANAM gave me a wealth of opportunities and support which I couldn’t have received elsewhere’.