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Five questions with Artist-in-Residence Nat Bartsch

Five questions with Artist-in-Residence Nat Bartsch

To celebrate International Women’s Day, and the release of her new single Hope (for Orchestra), Melbourne Recital Centre’s 2024 Artist in Residence Nat Bartsch shares a playlist of music from women she’s found inspiration from, been moved by, or wants to shine a spotlight on.    

Which female artists inspire you the most? 

In my early years as a musician, I would probably mention artists that compose or improvise in amazing ways – but these days I think I’ve realised that the artists that have influenced me the most are those who have really embraced genre fluidity, and shown me the value (and importance) of crafting an individual voice (and they are often still amazing composers/songwriters and improvisers). 

Artists like Laura Mvula, Gian Slater, Ecca Vandal, Arooj Aftab, Andrea Keller, even Beyoncé. 

What are your favourite songs/pieces by a female musician and why? 

The ones that stop me in my tracks and help me feel all the feelings I need to feel! Some of my all-time favourites are Joni Mitchell’s second version of Both Sides Now, with orchestra, a Life According to Raechel by Maddison Cunningham; and the opening movement of Hannah Peel’s commission for the Paraorchestra, The Unfolding. 

Who is your favourite female musical storyteller? 

I’m currently really inspired by the Hidden Thoughts song cycles by Melbourne composer Katy Abbott. She addresses some huge themes in these works (sexism and misogyny; Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers), and while they are based on ‘non-fiction’ text (anonymous letters, ideas and anecdotes) the music and narration reveals itself like a story; a journey we must travel to gain a greater understanding of these issues. You never know the contributors’ names, but you feel like you intimately know them. It’s very powerful. 

Is there a female artist you think more people should know about? 

There are some incredible recent album releases by some Melbourne jazz artists that you should definitely check out! Minnie Collective’s album There Is Light, a suite inspired by the different stages of life; Romy Hernandez’s Poems of Bliss and Loss, about mental health and equine assisted therapy; and Claire Cross/Harry Cook’s new album Dialect

Your piece Busy/Quiet is dedicated to the hardworking women of the pandemic. Who and what did you listen to during this time to inspire you? 

 Busy/Quiet was written in a difficult stage of life where I was so busy all the time. I can’t remember what I was listening to, but I’m pretty sure it was something soothing and uncomplicated like Taylor Swift! 

I think Busy/Quiet is the product of some much more longer standing influences, that are kind of a part of my DNA - such as the minimalistic compositional style of Steve Reich and Nik Bärtsch, European jazz artists like Marcin Wasilewski Trio and Tore Brunborg, and the riffs of Radiohead and Elbow. 

Don't miss Nat Bartsch Quartet perform Busy/Quiet in the Primrose Potter Salon on Friday 17 May 7pm. Click here to book

Explore Nat Bartsch's 2024 Artist-in-Residence concert series here

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