Gabriella Smart may be the Artistic Director of Soundstream: Adelaide New Music Festival and Soundstream Collective, but she is also a distinguished concert pianist and lecturer in piano at the Elder Conservatorium.
A passionate exponent of new music, Smart has given award-winning premieres of Australian compositions. In 2003 she performed solo recitals at the Melbourne International Festival and at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. She was invited to perform in the 2004 Ten Days on the Island Festival in Tasmania after her critically acclaimed performances during the 2002 Festival.
Awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2010 and a Helpmann Award for Best Chamber and Instrumental Music in 2009, Smart has performed widely throughout Australia, Europe and China. She has given international premieres of works by eminent composers Michael Nyman and Tan Dun and continues to collaborate with many Australian composers, commissioning and premiering their works. She has given numerous live and recorded broadcasts for ABC Classic FM and has represented South Australia at the 2010 World Expo, giving recitals in Shanghai.
For this year’s Soundstream Festival, Smart will perform a re-take of Stravinsky’s transcription of The Rite of Spring
with Australian composer Paul Grabowsky, 99 years after its original debut.
Here she discusses music with artsHub.What did you want to be when you grew up?
A nun– then, when I shook off my Catholic roots, a swimmer.When did you know you would work in the arts?
There was never anything else I wanted to do.How would you describe your work to a complete stranger?
Being a musician is one of the most varied, exciting professions that exist. When I practice I travel the world in my studio, I am the world’s greatest actor. As Artistic Director, I have the privilege of communicating with extraordinary artists and people of like vision.How hard is it to be authentic in the arts nowadays?
It’s always easy to be inauthentic in the arts, and it has always been hard to remain authentic. The sure factor is that fashion is arbitrary, and authentic artists don’t care for it.Is there a mission to your work?
Yes– to inspire Australian culture through new music and to bring the world to Adelaide.What's your background – are there studies that prepare you for this?
There is a saying that talent is 99% sweat and 1% potential. The best training for an artist is the 10,000 hours of disciplined, hard work needed before one can begin to realise their art with emotional and physical freedom. Then one has the tools to learn for the rest of one’s life. Mine was at the piano, under the inspirational guidance of Eleonora Sivan.What's the first thing career related you usually do each day?
At the moment, sadly, in pre-festival mode, I’m at the computer. Usually, the piano.Can you describe an "average" working day for you?
6am– computer, children to school, practice, teaching, meetings to sustain Soundstream, practice…What else do you do to pay the bills?
Besides performing and artistic direction, I teach.What's the one thing - piece of equipment, toy, security blanket – you can't work without?
A piano for sure.What gets you fired up?
Music– in sheer abundance.Who in the industry most inspires you?
Artists like Jon Rose, who follow their own path fearlessly.What in the industry do you despair about?
Mass production on all levels. It kills communication and spirituality.What is the best thing about your job?
The balance between music and my beautiful children.What’s the worst?
Serial burnout.What are the top three skills you need in this industry?
Love, discipline and generosity of spirit.What advice would you give anyone looking to break into the field?
Love what you do, and don’t be afraid to pursue your vision.How do you know when you missed the mark?
When the engagement is missing.Which of the below phrases best suits your career development to date and why?
a. "The road to success is always under construction. "
b. "Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor."
c. "Success is best measured by how far you've come with the talents you've been given. "
d. "No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself."
Life is a continual process of learning- so, A.When do you know you’ve made it?
When I see the light in people’s eyes.Soundstream: Adelaide New Music Festival (SANMF) runs from 11-14 October 2012, with Gabriella’s performance of The Rite of Spring to be held at Adelaide’s Elder Hall on Friday the 12th. For more information, or to buy tickets, visit the Soundstream Festival website.