Myee Clohessy, concert violinist and Artistic Director of the Bowral Autumn Music Festival and the Highlands Music Collective, is back living ‘just up the hill’ in the Southern Highlands where it all began for her 40 years ago.
She shares her music journey which started, what some people consider, quite late (aged 10).
Now an accomplished violinist who has played in ensembles worldwide, on both modern and baroque violins, she’s back in her homeland performing, managing Music Festivals and teaching the younger generation of musicians.
“I began the violin when I was ten years old. Lucky for me, the former Concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Ernest Llewellyn CBE, had retired to a farm neighbouring my family’s goat farm, just outside of Mittagong. Having ‘Ernie’ as my first violin teacher couldn’t have been a better start to my musical journey.”
“He encouraged me to join the Wollongong Conservatorium Youth Orchestra he was conducting at Gleniffer Brae (1982) and meet other passionate musical children my age. I will never forget that first rehearsal trying to play Britten’s Playful Pizzicato at a speed that left me totally exasperated, but also inspired.”
For Myee it was an exciting experience for her as a farm girl to be surrounded by talented players, many of whom have gone on to become professional musicians as well, including Angela and Alexandra Stender, David Piper, David Wickham, Emma Hayes and Anna Zietara.
“The staff at the Wollongong Conservatorium were very nurturing, with Mr Jim Powell as the Director. They encouraged me to enter the local eisteddfods and start performing as much as possible. One of my first ever public concerts was as the winner of the Wollongong Eisteddfod’s ‘Command Performance Prize’ in the Town Hall, which was a pretty big deal for a country girl who had only played at school assemblies until then!”
An important memory for Myee was when the Peking Quartet came to Wollongong (on invitation by Ernest Llewellyn) to perform and tutor the string students at the Conservatorium, providing exposure to chamber music many of the students had never experienced before.
“Their passion for music and teaching was infectious, particularly from their cellist, who was the quartet’s youngest and most verbal member. Being with musicians who loved playing their instruments as much as I did, was certainly a catalyst in making me know by the age of 12, that I wanted music to be my future career path.”
And a musician she did become. Further studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and Guildhall School of Music in London all helped shape Myee for the music world as a professional.
“Music has been my passport and enabled me to play on some of the most beautiful stages in the world (Gewandhaus in Amsterdam, Musikverein in Vienna, Rudolfinum in Prague, Philharmonie in Berlin, Liceo in Barcelona, South Bank in London, Kennedy Centre in USA etc.). I have also been blessed to work with some extraordinary musicians (Truls Mørk, Christian Lindberg, Daniel Harding, Takacs Quartet, Leon Spieler, Leif Ove Andsnes, Andrew Manze, Andreas Sholl, Yakov Kreitzberg, Eduardo Mata, to name a few) and spent a lifetime delving deeply into the meaning of those simple but profound black dots composers have drawn on the page.”
She’s now putting to good use all of her ‘music’ experiences in the last 40 years, by sharing and supporting the creation of fine music.
“It is quite wonderful my life has come full circle and I now find myself living back in the Southern Highlands with my own family. As the Artistic Director of the Bowral Autumn Music Festival and the Highlands Music Collective, I’m back living ‘just up the hill’, where it all began 40 years ago.“