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Oberlin in Australia: Residencies in the Land Down Under

Oct. 11, 2011


David Breitman, director of historical performance, recently returned from Australia, where he and colleague Elizabeth Wallfisch, a leading interpreter of music on the baroque and classical violins, were resident guest artists for one week at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) in Melbourne, and then at the Australian National University in Canberra.

ANAM, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, has a student body of only 56, each of whom is paid a stipend to attend, up to a maximum of three years. The school boasts an impressive faculty profile, as well as a steady stream of distinguished guests. While there, Breitman and Wallfisch led a Beethoven Sonata project, coaching students of the Academy as well as presenting concerts.

At the Australian National University Canberra School of Music, they were part of the Musica Antica Festival, which featured their performance of all ten Beethoven sonatas for piano and violin. In addition, they participated in the live-streamed “Musica Antica Grand Potpourri” concert. The Canberra school is home to Australia’s largest working public collection of historic keyboards, which are available for student use. The rarest keyboard in the Australian National Keyboard Institute is made by Henri Henrion, circa 1770, and is one of only two in the world.

Oberlin’s presence in Australia this fall continued after Breitman’s departure. Says Breitman: “I was part of a serious Oberlin invasion in Melbourne; on the final day of our residency, the members of eighth blackbird were arriving to begin theirs.”

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