German has been a central love of mine since my early teenage years. My first lightbulb moment was in my last year in the Sydney Children’s Choir when we performed Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. It was an emotionally charged event for me anyway as I knew that my voice was changing and this would be one of my last performances (understandably, the focus may well have been on maestro Edo de Waart, for whom it was a final engagement as Chief Conductor!). I can still remember being completely transported in the final movement by music which was so emotionally intense, that it was like having an out of body experience.
The inevitable voice change happened but I was lucky to continue this journey with German music as a young organ student at Sydney Grammar School where I also sang in the Sydneian Bach Choir, performing Sunday concerts of three cantatas each, six times a year. And so for quite a while, I was happily absorbed by the music of Bach and his other baroque contemporaries, like Dietrich Buxtehude (whose organ music was incredibly satisfying to play).