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Jill Atkinson

Principal Harp
Chair sponsored by Noel and Geraldine Whittaker

Music is totally part of who I am. I cannot imagine a day without music in it. It lifts my mood when I am down, and takes me to great heights. Music challenges, soothes, heals, and stimulates in so many ways, particularly the brain function. It keeps me young and interesting!

My father was an amateur violinist with an extensive record collection of the greatest music played by top violinists, pianists and conductors. I went to sleep every night hearing the greatest of classical music waft down the hall. It was his mother who gave me her harp while I was still in primary school. This started me on my adventure with the harp, in addition to the piano, which was my first love. Since those days, we moved to Adelaide where I was able to attend concerts and theatre regularly, including my first music camp where I discovered the great fun that is playing in an orchestra. A career highlight has been accompanying some of the world’s greatest singers and dancers.

I was fortunately able to learn on the job, not having had a lot of orchestral experience at the age of 21 when I got the job with QSO, compared to the experience players have these days. It has been always interesting and challenging and I have been fortunate to play solo with the orchestra on many occasions. The repertoire the orchestra plays continues to grow, so I am still learning after 41 years! Branching out into the opera and ballet repertoire in the last 20 years has been wonderful for me as there are great parts written for harp in this genre and the music is lovely.

My favourite piece of music
One of my most loved pieces of music is neither a harp work nor a piece for orchestra! It is Cesar Franks’s Violin Sonata, which I heard many times as a child. Its soaring melody of the final movement with the glorious piano accompaniment pulsating with energy still gives me shivers down my spine. What a glorious life to have been able to live so immersed in music every day!