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   Jun 13

Walker brings Germany and Austria’s Romantic era to Adamstown

VIRTUOSO: Sally Walker’s masterful flute musicianship has allowed her to perform with some of Europe’s most accomplished orchestras. Picture: Miranda LawrySALLY Walker has always possessed a passion for travel and for the past 20 years the world has been her oyster.
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The University of Newcastle lecturer’s proficiency with the wooden or silver flute has taken her to the classical music halls of Germany, Italy, Austria and Scotland, rubbing shoulders with the musical elite.

Last EasterWalker even performed at the 500-year-old CatholicBeit Jamal monastery near Jerusalem in Israel.

To share her love and knowledge of international classical music Walker is launching a series of recitals known as theTwilight Musical Dialogues to give Novocastrians a new cultural experience. Walker’s first performance will be German and Austrianmusic from theRomantic Era including works bySchubert, Schumann, Weber and Reger on February 24.

It will be followed by recitals showcasing music from the old kingdom of Bohemia (April),Russia (June), (September) andLatin America (November). Not only will Walker be performing at each recital, she is serving asartistic director.

“They definitely are two different hats,” Walker says.“This is my first time stepping out as artistic director for a series. I only did it because people kept telling me I was lazy not to do it. There was a bit of peer pressure and I thought I should be doing this at this point of my career.

RARE OPPORTUNITY: Last Easter Sally Walker performed in the 500-year-old Catholic Beit Jamal monastery in Israel. Picture: Tomoko Malkin

“Having started, it’s really quite lovely to think who would I love to play with, and which pieces would I like to play? Wouldthis player really excite Newcastle audiences?What would that special thing be? And it came out quite quickly that it would be the division of countries.”

After growing up in Canberra, Walker spent a decade living in Germany where shemade her name in the classical world when she was a grand-finalist in the Leonardo de Lorenzo International Flute Competition (Italy) in 1999andcamesecondin theFriedrich Kuhlau International Flute Competition (Germany)in 2003.

That led to a stint in the Cologne Chamber Orchestra and aprestigious two-year contract from 2003 to 2005 withthe Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, one of Germany’s most famous, dating back to 1743.

“It was very unusual at the time to have any foreigners, especially a female foreigner in the orchestra,” Walker says.“It’s the oldest orchestra in the world and still the largest, so itwas very special to be a part of that orchestra.

“Once you’re in an orchestra in that league, other orchestras consider you as a casual player, so I got to tour with the BerlinPhilharmonic Orchestra, which was great too.”

In 2005 Walker moved to Newcastle to lecture at the university. It’s a role where she has been able to encourage love forthe instrument she has played since she was 10.

Sally WalkerHemisphereswhich explored the spiritual history of the flute in a number of cultures and cultures that at that time had no contact with each other,” she says.“This instrument has been considered transcendental and it’s had a special function in calling to the spirits. Like the Greek god Pan played the flute.

“I think there’s something very pure and moving and calming about the actual tone and very expressive. The sound itself is what rang my bell.”

Guiding the next generation of classical musicians through the changing landscape is another part of Walker’s role that providesprofessional satisfaction. The days of classical musicians readily finding full-time work in an orchestra is declining and students are required to bemore resourceful.

“It’s become very unusual and the freelance market has picked up exponentially,” she says.“So I’m training my students differently to how I was trained, which is to learn how to market themselves, learn how to develop their own ideas and have initiative.

“I wasvery happy last year that forthe final recitalsone of my students requested not to have it on the Conservatoriumpremises, but in an art gallery. She put that on by herself and it was great.”

Sally Walker will be joined bypianistGabriella Pusner for the first Twilight Musical Dialogue on February 24 at the Adamstown Uniting Church on Brunker Road.

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