Thursday, August 24, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Mackay is eagerly anticipating the return of one of its own musical prodigies.
Glenn Christensen, a talented violinist and native of Mackay, has garnered international acclaim for his virtuosic performances. With his upcoming series of highly anticipated concerts in his hometown, Glenn is set to captivate audiences once again with his mesmerising talent and unwavering passion for music.
Glenn became Concertmaster of the Australian Youth Orchestra in 2012 and 2013 and an Australian Chamber Orchestra Emerging Artist in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, Principal First Violin in the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. He performed, broadcasting live on ABC Classic FM, was a finalist in the 2014 ABC Young Performer Awards. He moved to Sydney in 2014 becoming a full-time member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra under the demanding and watchful eye of Richard Tognetti. Six years later, in 2020, resigning to take up offers in Germany.
Next, everything stopped.
Globally contracts were cancelled, performances cancelled, theatres closed, entire orchestras unseated. Musicians, a close-knit community, left with nothing but to pack their instruments, and go home.
“In one fell swoop Covid decimated the livelihood of all artists,” said Glenn. “Our world ended. And it was rapid.”
“Fear is what I felt most strongly. Not for my health, but for my very existence having just left a full-time position.
“Luckily I had a contract waiting for me in Germany. But borders closed, international travel was restricted. As a non-essential service all movement was forbidden.
“I couldn’t get out of Sydney, even if I had a flight I wouldn’t gain entry.
“Much of the pandemic was spent shuffling emails between Germany keeping me hopeful the contract remained open. In isolation, I was fearful.”
The position with Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie of Deputy Concertmaster and Principal 2nd Violin remained open. Glenn is now resident in Bremen.
“Living in the heart and soul of European classical music is the quickest way to restore anyone’s optimism,” says Glenn.
“The orchestra’s management style is democratic, no hierarchy. Decisions are made laterally. If you work for the company you have input, everyone is valued. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
Glenn still has time for a grand passion. The Mackay Chamber Music Festival, an annual festival he started in his hometown in 2018, of which he is Artistic Director.
“It’s thrilling,” said Glenn. “Mackay has its own classical music festival.”
“The best part is the feeling of community. I get to work with amazing musicians and music lovers on and off stage.
“It’s important to program works relevant to today’s audiences, so we have works by living Australian composers Anne Cawrse, Elizabeth Younan, Harry Sdraulig and Paul Stanhope, alongside classic works from Schubert, Mozart, and Mendelssohn.
“A rewarding initiative is giving young, and young at heart musicians, guidance through an extensive education program.
“Regardless of where you live, you should have access to wonderful music and music education.”
Dates for the fifth annual festival are 21-23 July 2023.
For further information on Mackay Chamber Music Festival visit: https://www.mackaycmf.com.au/
Lyrebird Trio – Glenn Christensen (violin), Angela Turner (piano) Simon Cobcroft (cello)