Stars aligning, kicking goals and playing fine music with some of the world’s best, Brisbane artist Tania Frazer is living a heavenly life. She is the Artistic Director and oboe player for Southern Cross Soloists (SXS), one of Australia’s most renowned chamber music ensembles.
Based in Brisbane, SXS is acclaimed for creating and performing dynamic world-class musical experiences for audiences of all ages.
SXS has come a long way since it evolved from the award-winning wind quintet Tania played in as a teenager, alongside acclaimed Australian musician Paul Dean.
Arriving back to her home city of Brisbane after 12 years of living and working in Europe, Tania joined SXS with Paul Dean as Artistic Director, before taking over the reins in 2011.
SXS regularly share the stage with some of the best classical music artists from Australia and around the world.
“Working with the world class SXS musicians as well as our guest soloists is inspiring – it keeps what we do really fresh and exciting - and it’s the motivation for SXS to exist and is key to our success,” says Tania.
“All of our guest soloists are incredible to work with, and they become close friends in the brief time we work together.
“The reason this happens so quickly is that in chamber music we are collaborating and communicating on a very human level. Within the one week of rehearsals, we develop a strong connection that often stays for a lifetime.
“There is no hierarchy in chamber music, unlike an orchestra. We are all equal and we all need to be communicating with each other 100 per cent of the time.
“It’s also incredibly inspiring to see virtuoso soloists performing up close, particularly someone like Slava Grigoryan, who radiates musicality in everything he plays, as does Avi Avital, the mandolin player, who is another favourite and good friend. And, of course, Miroslav Petkov, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Sara Macliver, Piers Lane, Jayson Gillham, Li Wei Qin, Karin Schaupp... the list goes on and on,” she says.
And despite a decade flying by at the helm of SXS, Tania says she is constantly learning.
“I'm learning more and more about how to play the oboe better physically and I’m curious about experimenting with different techniques to improve my playing. It’s incredibly frustrating that I didn't know these things when I was 18 years old!”
Another point of interest is exploring what music ‘actually’ is, how it is put together and what makes a piece connect with a person – so what music speaks most to Tania?
“I usually say my favourite piece of music is the Sibelius Violin Concerto. I don't know why; I just love it. The opening is just incredible, and I find every single note holds my attention and creates a beautiful vision.
"But there are just so many pieces of music that are so beautiful. In our upcoming QPAC concert alone, every piece of music in the program is stunning. The Rachmaninov Vocalise that we're playing is just sublime, no matter how many times you hear it or play it.”
Heavenly Life takes its name from the libretto of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony which offers a depiction of life in heaven.
“However, the real theme behind this program is that life itself, is heavenly, and music greatly enhances this by offering colour, spice, and beauty. Just imagine what life would be like without any music whatsoever. Music adds an indescribable colour to the world we live in.
“Ancient civilizations once believed that music had mystical powers- maybe they were on to something! Music gives us inspiration; it transcends a bad day; it unleashes creativity, and it can be therapy for our emotions: a stress buster, a mood changer, and an energy creator.
“So, Heavenly Life features sublime musical masterpieces that have the potential to add immense beauty and colour into our daily lives."
So what is the intimate experience of a chamber music concert like? Check out this video captured at the last SXS concert at QPAC, Dreams and Visions.
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