Matthew Kneale is one of the three finalists in the 2017 Freedman Classical Fellowship competition. As a way of discovering the interests and concerns of younger musicians, each has been invited to contribute and Inside the Musician article and all three articles appear in this edition of Loudmouth.
Some of the most interesting things I have come to realise as a classical bassoonist have really been over the last couple of years (2015-17). Being a bassoonist of Arcadia Winds and Ensemble Françaix and fellow of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) and Musica Viva’s FutureMakers Program, I have learned several things from wonderful artists such as Freedman Fellow Genevieve Lacey and Paul Dean, former Artistic Director of ANAM.
The world is an ever evolving place, it shows no mercy as it never stops. Sometimes you need to stop, think and reflect especially as a musician. Our career is very highly emotional and sensitive. A lot of what we have to do is very feelings-based, but you always need time to reflect and improve. The networks that you build around you are a crucial factor in improving as an artist. You need to trust them and take their advice. Also being able to speak to them and ask for life advice and ways to improve yourself is important in making wise choices for your music career.
Secondly you need to be yourself. These two artists I mention are fantastic advocates of this. When you watch them perform you can tell that is them, they bring out their personalities. It is something that for myself I always need to remember, and has been a huge tool and stepping stone into helping others understand and feel what I do. When people come to see you perform they want to connect with you, they want some sort of relationship with you. You also want to do the same while you perform as it is very important to create this two way connection. You are bringing people into your world, you need to allow them to be able to be accepted then to make their judgement on what you are doing. In this way people then can see what you do and what you stand for is real and genuine.
One of my big objectives is to change the status of the bassoon. Education has become increasingly important. As a bassoonist I know that my instrument is extremely different and audiences come across it much less than other instruments. Educating audiences and in schools and being able to showcase the bassoon is probably one of the most important things I do as a freelance chamber and solo musician. Giving the instrument a chance to shine and to be that ambassador for it is so important. I feel as though being an entrepreneur for two important wind groups is in a way educating audiences and students to a whole new scope of music. I have discovered people like to find out new things, like to be educated and like to feel they have accomplished something. That is the beauty of being a musician – because of its creativity, sound and scope this happens so frequently.
Last but not least is continuing to improve at what we do. We know that the only way we get a chance to do what we do is to be our very best. A hard work ethic and continuing to improve the skills we have is essential in maintaining a career. Things cannot be taken for granted, and this is what keeps a musician like myself driven, with many targets, aims and improvements.
I believe these are extremely important factors to getting inside a musician, and things one must always think about in maintaining a chamber and solo career.
A founding member of Australian chamber groups Arcadia Winds and Ensemble Françaix, Matthew Kneale is making his name as a leading bassoonist of his generation. He is a graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, and in addition to critically acclaimed solo and ensemble performances, has served as casual bassoonist with the Melbourne, Adelaide, Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. His repertoire ranges from traditional masterpieces to recent compositions by György Ligeti, Brett Dean, Paul Dean, Peter de Jager and Lachlan Skipworth, among others. In 2018, Matthew will give the world premiere of Holly Harrison's new work for bassoon and string quartet as part of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra's Australian Series. Matthew is also the 2017 Freedman Fellow, embarking on a world bassoon tour as part of the fellowship