Alumni Portraits BLAIR HARRIS (CELLO 2005)

Why did you choose to study at ANAM?
During my undergraduate degree at the Queensland Conservatorium, rumours of ANAM’s incredible opportunities and support were the talk of the town. I became obsessed with this new adventure and decided to put all of my energies into auditioning. When I was accepted I felt a real sense of approval about my life plans. It gave me a new impetus to work harder than ever before.

What do you remember most about your time at ANAM?
I recall with fondness such familial warmth between all the students and staff. Being surrounded in a high performing creative environment with your friends and mentors is something that I will always cherish.  

What has been the most memorable moment of your professional progress so far?
Being nominated for a Helpmann Award for Best Chamber Music Performance was pretty special. Also, attending the International Music Seminars in Prussia Cove was an amazing highlight as an emerging artist.

How did ANAM help get you where you are today?
I think the discipline that is required to succeed in this industry is really nurtured at ANAM. Being surrounded with students striving to be better than the day before and the mentorship to assist this was such an important part of my ANAM experience. Many of my classmates and teachers remain close friends and colleagues to this day. 

What in your experience is the hardest part of the transition to a professional music career?
Remaining true to your artistic heart can be very difficult when you leave the student bubble. One has been living a utopian existence for many years where the creation of art is paramount, but as we transition into a career the need for financial freedom can be a difficult balance. I think it is important to learn when to say ‘no’ to something that is not truly aligned with your artistic intentions. It is very easy to get trapped doing too many things you don't really want to be doing for the sake of money. 

What does it mean to you to be a part of the ANAM family?
The ANAM family is a truly international one. I have travelled all over the world and feel so connected to a vast network of musicians stemming mostly from my three years at ANAM. You make so many friends whilst at ANAM, and you don't notice at the time, but it is actually connecting you all over the world.

If not the cello, what would you have played instead?
There wasn't ever a second choice in my mind really, but since I have to choose, it would be the piano. I love its power and ability to be everything from an intimate soloist to symphonic beast all by itself.

What do you enjoy doing outside of playing music?
I have recently become obsessed with painting. Not only do I feel that studying the great masters of art helps my music, I have also started painting myself. I am absolutely dreadful at it mind you, but it is very fun!

Do you have any future music projects in the pipeline?
I have numerous recitals coming up over the rest of 2017.

  • 22 July, Richmond Uniting Church. The works of Beethoven, Brahms and Debussy.
  • 30 October, Melbourne Recital Centre. The sonatas of Britten and Bridge alongside a new commission by Caerwen Martin.
  • 4 November, Melbourne Warehouse Music Festival. Works for solo cello by Saariaho, Tanaka and Britten.

These recitals are in addition to a wonderful season of concerts with Syzygy Ensemble and Ensemble Offspring.

What sage advice would you give to our ANAM musicians today? 
Never take your study time for granted. You will never have more time to practice and opportunities to perform than you do right now. Get on stage as much as possible and challenge yourself to realise your potential. Mistakes are a crucial part of learning too, so don't be afraid to make some! 

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I have been given is probably from the great cellist Steven Isserlis. One must constantly be looking for the true essence of the composer’s intentions and use everything one can to communicate that message. That will make a meaningful and memorable performance.

Profile last updated in 2017

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