Backstage with our Artistic Planning Coordinator

Meet Murray Walker

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Backstage with our Artistic Planning Coordinator

Performing the music on stage is only half the job – behind the scenes there are incredible people who make a concert what it is.

Meet Artistic Planning Coordinator Murray Walker – tuba player, father to Bonnie the Labrador, and that one person in the office who knows all The Simpsons episodes. We caught up with Murray to talk about working with artists from around the world, tuba adaptations, and his favourite composer.

Tell us about your role at Queensland Symphony Orchestra?

My role at Queensland Symphony Orchestra is Coordinator in the Artistic Planning team. A big part of my role is to manage arrangements for our visiting artists, such as conductors and soloists, who are performing with QSO. This ranges from the initial arrangements like preparing contracts, to booking their travel arrangements, and preparing for rehearsals – planning rehearsal order and booking meetings with other artists who are performing in the concert.

I also assist in programming QSO performances including helping to organise each annual performance season, as well as other administrative tasks in the Artistic Planning team.

How is it working with artists, soloists and conductors from all over the world?

They are some of the loveliest people you will ever meet, which is especially amazing considering so many of the international artists are usually experiencing severe jetlag when we first meet. I especially enjoy meeting artists that are coming to Australia for the first time and introducing them to all our Australian-isms. Being able to see artists from all over the world work with QSO is incredible.

It is also wonderful to work with so many Australian artists. Working together with these local artists, and those that have made careers beyond Australia, shows what amazing musical talent we have here. I really enjoy seeing these artists build a relationship with the Orchestra and audience.

Do you play any instruments?

Like many that go into Artistic Planning, I started out as a musician. I have played tuba since I was 12 and have a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance and Composition from Monash University, and have also done further study at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM). 

While I do not play tuba as a professional anymore, I do enjoy performing in the odd concert with community orchestras and brass bands when I get chance. I also occasionally join QSO for our annual Day in the Orchestra.

Who’s your favourite composer?

Don’t make me choose. If I had to, my top two would be Mahler and Beethoven. I find these composers really had something to write about and were so adept at expressing themselves through their music. They also did a lot to push the boundaries of the musicians and orchestras of their times that helped pave the way for the orchestra size and sound we have today.

Beethoven was the earliest composer I can remember liking and used to listen to his symphonies from a young age. I was introduced to Mahler in my mid-teens and his music was one of the things that lead me to decide to pursue a career in music. Mahler even revised the orchestration of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 (Choral) to make it sound like what he believed Beethoven would have wanted if given a modern orchestra. If you ever get a chance to hear it, it is rather spectacular.

As a tuba player, I was never able to play one of Beethoven’s Symphonies, as the tuba had not been invented when Beethoven was alive. To get around this, I taught myself some very basic bass trombone skills in university so I could play in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No.5. I have only had the opportunity to perform one symphony by Mahler, Symphony No.6 (Tragic).

When you’re not at work, what are you doing?

My partner Felicity and I like going hiking and camping when we can get away. We also enjoy going on adventures with our Labrador Bonnie exploring all the wonderful places around the Greater Brisbane area.

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