29 June 2014

Over a skinny latté III

Shane Chen
Madeline’s at Jells
Jells Park, Wheelers Hill
8 May 2014
The third in a series of interviews with Flinders Quartet players.
First published in Flinders Quartet: June update 2014

Right place, right time – and nearly twelve years of hard work.

‘I was busking in Equitable Place in the city in June 2003; my hair was permed, my punk-style jeans had a big hole in the knee. It was damn cold; not many people on the street. I was playing Fritz Kreisler. She stood there and I thought, “There’s a nice girl. I’d better play well.” It was Silvia, a friend from school in Shenzhen eight years before when we were nine and in the same chamber orchestra. She told me they had this amazing teacher on violin in Melbourne Uni where she was studying cello.

'Nappies and practice, nappies and practice.'
‘In Years 9 and 10 I skipped a lot of school to play basketball, formed a punk band and practised violin. But I ended up with top marks in  Maths (I could count to four) so when I came to Melbourne on 2001 I had got into a double degree – Commerce and Business Systems.’

The amazing teacher was Bill Hennessy and he gave me six lessons but I couldn't handle two degrees, six hours of practice and English language lessons so I dropped Business Systems and Bill’s lessons.

‘Silvia and I got married, I worked in a shipping company and our first daughter (of three) arrived. Silvia at that time was contemplating that I should do something to fulfil my childhood dream. I applied for a part-time graduate diploma in music at Melbourne Uni. My boss gave me leave so it was nappies and study and practice in the garage (8.30pm till 1.30am) and teaching.

'Interpretation is not perfection. Everyone can bring that on.' 


‘But Bill had gone to ANAM so I applied three weeks short of the cut-off age of 27. Our third baby was due on audition day so I had to leave my phone on. Later, Paul (Dean) told me, “We looked at your application: what have we got? Commerce degree, plays basketball*. What have we got?” I got a scholarship and a bursary. My 2011 recital was Bach G minor sonata (synthetic strings) an Ysaÿe sonata for solo violin and Beethoven Spring sonata in F major.

He got the highest ranking.
Bill was so happy.
*Shane's CV didn't say "plays basketball" but it should have. [SJ]

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