13 July 2022

UPDATED: Eleven instruments in one hour at the Conservatorium's latest Live at Lunch concert

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Kara Williams surrounded by her many instruments

Kara Williams will be playing 11 woodwind instruments at the Riverina Playhouse. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

UPDATED: Please be advised that today’s concert has been postponed due to illness. Keep an eye out for emails and social media posts from the Riverina Conservatorium of Music for the new performance date.

The Riverina Conservatorium of Music (RCM) is set to treat Wagga audiences to a concert featuring a single musician playing 11 instruments in one hour.

The 10th in the Conservatorium’s Free Live at Lunch series, Double Time! will feature RCM musician Kara Williams ‘doubling’ (performing with more than one instrument) across all five orchestral woodwind families during the hour-long spectacle at the Riverina Playhouse on Thursday, 30 June, between 1 pm and 2 pm.

The reed (multi woodwind player in music theatre) player will perform on the piccolo flute, oboe, cor anglais, E flat clarinet, B flat clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon and saxophone (soprano, alto, and tenor) at the event.

Other talented artists will accompany the classically trained musician to perform compositions featuring woodwind doublers as soloists, all of which are Australian premieres.

Ms Williams sought permission from composers in the UK and US to orchestrate their music.

“The composers have been collegial and supportive and are excited that their music will be playing in Australia,” she said.

“I’ve created a mini pit orchestra with a string quartet and a rhythm section with Hamish (RCM CEO Hamish Tait) playing the piano.

“I’ve also got two amazingly talented musicians from the Army band who will be playing the drum kit, bass guitar and upright bass.

“With all of us on stage, it will be a spectacle with all different step sounds and styles.”

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Ms Williams and her mini-orchestra will be playing everything from Debussy (romantic classical style of music), swing, Latin cheesy and funk.

“There’s something for everyone,” Ms Williams said.

She said the idea of playing multiple instruments had been bubbling in her head for a while, but the music was not available for the soloist to play more than one instrument.

“It’s only been in the last five years have composers started writing for woodwind doublers as a soloist in their own right,” she said.

Ms Williams said she will be using “Darcy the drummer” as her “living metronome to show how difficult it is to change to another instrument” when she has “only got a set number of bars.”

RCM CEO Hamish Tait said people may have seen performances where musicians change instruments between pieces, but Ms Williams will have multiple changes in the repertoire.

“Kara had to spend months doing individual practices before she could step into the room with the rest of us,” he said.

“These kinds of concerts are exciting for professional musicians because they are challenging.

“As a pianist, it’s outside my normal. I tend to play a lot of classical and 19th-century romantic piano music and big chamber music with strings and piano.”

Kara Williams with RCM's CEO Hamish Tait at a piano

(Left to right) Kara Williams with RCM’s CEO Hamish Tait. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Mr Tait said it is highly unusual to find musicians with a high level of competency on many instruments.

“Kara’s got a unique skill set. She’s an expert arranger (adapting a musical composition for performance) and, as a composer, she has found her voice as well,” he said.

Ms Williams said the concert would be visually exciting for the audience.

“I’m hoping the sense of theatre will be there,” she said.

“It is set up to give a theatrical experience.”

The former Navy Band player explained that in music theatre, each reed player plays a book that contains different instruments that give music theatre its character.

“We have a minimum number of people playing with a maximum number of instruments and sound,” she said.

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The born musician has been musically inclined from a very young age but didn’t get the opportunity to learn until high school.

“I loved music from a young age. I wanted to learn all the different instruments and I couldn’t stop trying to learn them,” she said.

The music journey started with a clarinet, and eventually her mother had to get a bigger car to fit in the drum kit and guitar.

The self-taught musician didn’t know exactly how many instruments she could play but was confident it was at least “something from each of the families” – almost a dozen of which will be on show soon.

For more information on the concert, visit RCM.

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