SXS sits down with 2020 Next Gen artist Julia Hill to discuss violin and video game addictions.
A recent recipient of the prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarship, violinist Julia Hill has flourished into a passionate performer of classical music. Guided by former Arditti String Quartet violinist, Graeme Jennings, she was appointed Concertmaster of the Curro Chamber Orchestra at the Australian Youth Orchestra’s National Music Camp 2020 and has achieved an Award with Distinction on her Licentiate of Music, Australia.
As a Bachelor of Music candidate, Julia has performed as a soloist alongside the Indooroopilly Chamber Orchestra and the Sunshine Coast Symphony Orchestra. Next year she is looking forward to presenting a series of concerts with an emerging ensemble, the Jacaranda String Quartet. With a New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Julia has turned to overseas study to propel her love for music. In 2022, she will undertake study, internships and language training in Japan. During her program, she will investigate the role music plays in Japan’s society and is looking forward to collaborating with Japanese musicians and educators as part of her Honours thesis.
Where did you grow up and what inspired you to seriously pursue violin studies?
I grew up in Hervey Bay and discovered the violin as a seven year old watching the string orchestra play in our school assembly. When I started learning the violin in grade three, I instantly loved it –I even remember being super proud of practicing ten minutes every day! I found out about the Queensland Conservatorium when I was ten years old and from there, I set my goals towards getting a place. By that time, I had begun preparation for AMEB exams which provided a very clear trajectory towards an appropriate level for the entrance auditions. Throughout high school my love for music never wavered, so much so that I would wake up at 4:30am to practice before school, every day! I’m so happy I found my ultimate passion so early on.
Julia Hill & Francis Atkins – Silver Rose Photography
What excites you about violin playing, and what are your biggest challenges?
When you really love playing, it’s a little bit like getting addicted to a video game, but I get addicted to playing violin. My practice sessions don’t have a particular structure; I will work on things that need to be fixed. For example, if I need to speed up a passage, I will do diligent metronome practice, making sure I hit every note as clearly as possible. The biggest challenges for me are learning repertoire to a deadline, such as a recital or performance. I find that having something to work towards really drives my motivation. But with this in mind, it’s so important to enjoy the practice itself rather than being worried about an upcoming performance.
What repertoire is on your music stand lately?
I just finished my Bachelor violin recital, so until recently I had the Tchaikovsky violin concerto and Debussy Sonata on my stand. At the moment I’m working on the classic solo Bach Sonata in G minor, in preparation for our SXS Next Gen @ Kenmore concert on December 13th.
Where do you go for musical inspiration? When learning a piece, I often look for a range of interpretations. I don’t have a particular violinist I always listen to–my Youtube searches run from concert soloists to performers in international violin competitions...and if Twoset has a version of a piece I’m playing (such as Brett Yang’s Tchaikovsky concerto), I’ll definitely watch that too. If there is one violinist I would say I look up to, it would have to be Ray Chen. I watched a concert and masterclass of his two years ago, and I just love how he pulls apart the music and communicates his intentions with extreme engagement to his audience. I think it’s also really awesome how he has engaged the younger generations in classical music through social media, and his discord channel where you can perform on server recitals!
"This experience made me realise the power technology can have, especially in music."
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your musical life and career plans?
Earlier in the year with a halt put to all performance opportunities, it was difficult to keep up my performance skills, but it was also good in the sense that I had the opportunity to really focus on my individual practice. Through livestream performances over the pandemic period, along with fellow SXS Next Gen artist Francis Atkins, we presented eight Friday night live streamed concerts. This experience made me realise the power technology can have, especially in music.
What do you hope to gain from your time as a Next Gen artist?
I’m really looking forward to the collaboration with SXS members as well as other my fellow Next Gen artists, in both a chamber music context as well as an organisational one. When working with other musicians in chamber music, I always learn so much from others in the group. There’s always someone who’s an expert on a particular composer or style of playing for example. I’m also looking forward to organising concerts - it’s an important skill to have as a musician, but one not touched on as much in university. It’s great that being part of Next Gen provides the opportunity to learn this in a real-world context.