A sneak peak, profiling Ben Austin

Ben entered the Award in 2014 and made it to the Semi-finals - He was voted "Most popular" by the audience and here is his story

Ben Austin receiving prize

Questions & Answers – Profile

Name: Benjamin Austin

Age: 25

Where were your born? Launceston, Tasmania

Where do you live this year when in Australia: South Melbourne.  I live with a friend.

Do you still study & where – when will you finish? Completing a PhD in music performance at the University of Melbourne. Expecting to finish in July 2017.

Are you a full-time professional musician? I’m a full time professional student.

What drew you to become a musician? Honestly music was the only thing I ever really excelled at. It’s stimulating to be able to change up my daily routine according to whatever projects I may be a part of.

Do you sometimes perform in an ensemble? Not in the past few years, but I have done several two-piano performances and a number of works with violin and cello.

What is so special about the piano and its music? The ability for one person to paint an entire sound scape. It has a wide tonal range allowing for more versatile repertoire.  Everyone has had an experience in some way with the instrument (be it good or bad) – it’s entirely relatable.

What else can you play? Tambourine. End of list.

Do you sing? I wish I could but alas! I have been cursed with the singing voice of a cat that’s giving birth to a horse that’s giving birth to a chair. It’s not pretty.

What are you hobbies and why are you passionate about them? The parts of life that aren’t consumed by piano and studying are few. In no particular order I am otherwise: sleeping, eating McDonalds, drinking (white wine or gin), seeing friends, or sleeping (it deserves mentioning twice in my opinion).

Do you do a lot of travel?  Where have you been overseas etc? I went to Japan in 2005 – no other overseas travel since then.

What are your goals over the next two years? To finish my PhD and join the workforce – most likely teaching piano.  Travel is most definitely on the to do list.

What are your goals over the next two years? Finish my Masters, and then God knows what – finally attempt some form of stable employment? Unlikely. Travel is most definitely on the dream ‘to-do’ list.

Who inspires you and why? My parents – they had six children on a single income and were given every opportunity we could want.

Who else inspires you?  Tori Amos - because she is raw and gritty.  

Which composer’s music do you love and why? I’m currently infatuated with Rachmaninoff – such depth and unashamed passion really makes for an exciting listening experience. Having a dull-day? Put on some Rachmaninoff.

Do you play sports? Ugh. No.

Name 4 of your favourite things Mcdonalds. Gin and Tonic. My Bed. My friends.

Do you like fashion?  Yes. Can I afford? No.

 What fashion labels / fashion designers do you follow? My current budget finds me in stores such as Topman, H&M, Roger David, and Kmart.

What car do you drive (give a description of it)? Driving in Melbourne? No thank you! No car required.

How do you relax and unwind from rehearsing? Drinking and sleeping. Usually the latter since there’s bound to be more rehearsal the next day.

How do you care for your back etc. (to stop injuries etc)? Regular light exercise and an awareness of maintaining good posture. I have been fortunate to have had no injuries thus far ... touch wood

Do you love the movies Yes! Anything with Jennifer Lawrence gets my attention.

List at least three bars in Australia you hang out at and why? Bars? I don’t have money for that! Drinks take place at either my house or friends’ houses –It’s cost effective and there’s never a queue for the toilet.

What is your favourite alcoholic drink? Gin and Tonic.

Favourite meal / food / fruit and why? McDonalds. It is the food of love.

Do you compose your own music?  I would if I had the time...

What do you hope to get out of this Australian National Piano Award? Performance experience, valuable constructive feedback, to learn about my own playing in this unique setting, and hopefully a few pennies.

How long have you been rehearsing for this event? This sort of event is a culmination of years and years of development and hard work. It is a combination of pieces both old and new in my repertoire.