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January 30, 2018

Rising star Grace Clifford cements ties with ASO

The appointment of Grace Clifford as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra's emerging artist in association signals the institution's enthusiastic embrace of a new generation of musicians.

  • Picture: Anthony Browell

Grace Clifford may be lauded around the country and the world as one of violin’s next great artists, but she remains steadfastly humble.


Grace Clifford is the ASO’s emerging artist in association for 2018. She will play with the orchestra on June 1 & 2 at the Master Series 3: Grace and Grandeur event.

The teenager, who is currently studying at the Curtis Institute of Music in the USA, is adamant that there is plenty for her to learn about her chosen instrument.

“I love the expressive range of the violin — its ability to capture both the vocal and spoken qualities of the human voice,” she says.

“But I don’t think that I have been able to learn its language successfully yet. I find it endlessly difficult to reconcile playing with complete, uninhibited emotional investment and freedom in the moment with the detailed, more analytical work of practising and having technical control.”

The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO), though, are keen to recognise her talent. Grace played as a soloist with the ASO for the first time in 2014 and then returned in 2016 to play as part of the Sibelius Concerto.

For 2018, the Orchestra has named Grace its emerging artist in association – solidifying ties with the up and coming artist.

It’s opportunities like these, says Grace, that make Australia’s smaller classical music scene a good place for young musicians to begin their career.

“I think that the comparative smallness of Australia gives it unique potential for the fostering of young musicians aspiring toward a professional level,” she says.

“Many of the orchestras in Australia are very generous to young musicians, including through their participation in competitions like the ABC Young Performers Awards; the opportunity to work with a supportive professional orchestra at a young age is completely invaluable.”

This year, Grace will travel from her study base in the US to play in the ASO’s Master Series 3: Grace and Grandeur concert in June.

The night’s program features the Mendelssohn Concerto – a piece Grace finds endlessly fascinating, despite learning it very early in her development as a violinist.

“As with many violinists, the Mendelssohn Concerto was one of the first concertos that I learnt,” says Grace.

“It is curious that it is often learnt so early, because I think in many ways it is one of the most difficult to play well. The concerto is so loved and oft- played that before one learns or performs the work for the first time it is likely you have already heard many legendary recordings of it.

“It is a challenge to look at the score with fresh eyes and find your own feeling for it — to interpret rather than to re-interpret from what you are used to hearing.

“I love the concerto for the same reasons as it is loved by so many, but also for the challenge it presents in its familiarity — it would be wonderful to try to capture some of the feeling audiences might have had its premiere, as it was really a very innovative work.”

And this June, that innovative work will be brought to life in Adelaide by one of the country’s most innovative young players.


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