Risk taking, little steps and interesting musical moments defines cellist Clare Brassil

Cello Riot performing at Eastern Riverina Arts, 2015. Photo: Clare Brassil.

Cello Riot performing at Eastern Riverina Arts, 2015. Photo: Clare Brassil.

“I’m a natural risk taker and that’s allowed me to experiment in my musical practice and work with diverse artists,” said Clare Brassil, Wagga Wagga based cellist and 2015 winner of a NSW government $50,000 Regional Arts Fellowship.

Clare creates music using looping technologies, effects units and her cello. She performs under the moniker Cello Riot.

Clare started playing the cello from the age of 12 and remembers her first professional audition to work with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as transformative. “I had just completed my degree at the University of Melbourne and was thrilled to have been accepted. I didn’t really know the world of cello playing and music-making in a professional context, seemed like a dream to me.”

Another career highlight happened when Clare was 17. “There was an audition for National Music Camp and my mother had a hard time convincing me to apply! I didn’t have a lesser ability but I certainly had  less confidence than my city counterparts and that matters when you have to put yourself out there. I ended up auditioning and to my amazement won the BHP Scholarship for Musical Excellence for my instrument.”

Self confidence has always been something that has challenged Clare as a musician and person from the start. “I think being in your 40s and a mother is good because I’ve lost the ego out of my practice and playing.  I used to be worried about making it or being viewed as successful and luckily it’s gone now. I had enough life experience to know that nothing matters and creativity is part of who you are,” said Clare.

When it came to transitioning from performing to composing, it was more of a series of interesting musical moments for Clare than a big wow!

“The shift from performer to composer happened because I moved from Sydney to Wagga Wagga. Living in the country has given me the time, confidence and space to experiment with composing and I’m now taking it to the next level through the fellowship by working with composers like Katie Noonan and Michael Yeserski among others,” said Clare.

Through mentoring and collaboration as part of the fellowship, Clare hopes to improve her technical abilities in using looping technologies and release her work as an album.

“Currently I’m creating a series of pieces which reflect emotion and conjure images for listeners. When I’m creating music I often feel like it’s a soundtrack to a film that hasn’t been made yet. That’s the mystery of creativity too. When I create music, it brings up one image for me and different images for others,” said Clare.

Just go for everything is her words of advice for aspiring musicians wanting to apply for the fellowship.

“I’ve applied for lots of grants and collaborated with different people and I think that’s shaped my music. I believe every artist has something to offer you so be positive and open minded.”

What’s the value of arts to communities and cultures? “Art nourishes the soul, said Clare, so allow a little art time into your life, go to a concert, read a book, go to an art gallery. You don’t have to be famous to be an artist.”

For more information on the NSW Regional Arts Fellowship, please click here


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