mY musical journey
I first discovered the wonders of the piano when I was aged about six, when one of the nuns at the orphanage where I lived in Auckland, New Zealand, let me tinkle one day on a piano normally kept under lock and key. I suddenly felt as though I had a voice, that I could be heard. Not all of the children at St. Joseph's in Takapuna were orphans; it was also for those separated from their parents for many different reasons.
I started having piano lessons a few years later, thanks to wonderful foster parents, the Murphys, who looked after some of my siblings and me. Luckily, one of my first piano teachers encouraged me to be creative: yes, learn how to play from books and sheet music, but also don't be scared to dabble, experiment, make up your own music, express yourself, have fun! Half of each lesson was devoted to playing my own tunes, half was set aside for the classics. I wish I could remember that teacher's name.
The last track on my album is based on a simple piece I wrote when I was about eight or nine, a tune my father liked to call 'Erin's Prelude' (my original name).
In some ways, I think the piano saved me. Through a difficult childhood, it was a constant companion, an outlet, a way to express myself, and thankfully my father agreed to buy me a lovely old piano when I went to live with him in the North Island town of Te Awamutu as a teenager. It was also a true blessing to discover the music teachers Annie McGregor, George Brooks and Judy Page at the local high school.
There were many others who encouraged me in my musical journey, including my late grandmother, who let me take her place at the church organ in Warkworth during the school holidays; my Aunty Cushla, who took me in under her wing and showed me the importance of music; my late Aunty Kerry and Uncle John; and my late mother Noelle, who remained the biggest fan of my compositions.
Actually, as a youngster, I always thought that music would become my career. I was interested in composing and musicology when I was leaving school, but my path turned towards journalism and the media. On the very same day, I received two letters: one offering me a place at the University of Auckland's School of Music (composition programme) and the other for a highly sought-after place for a journalism course in Wellington. That was a hard decision.
However, throughout my life, no matter where I went to work as a radio and television journalist, I was fortunate enough to always get my hands on a piano (Yamahas) and I always had a composition to work on. Whether it was my first job in Whakatane, in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty, or Auckland, or Bristol in the UK, or Paris, or here in Lyon, music has always remained my first love. I currently have a Steinway-designed Young Chang baby grand, which I love, but I also dream of one day owning a gorgeous Fazioli piano!
I compose mostly for pleasure but also for the odd theatre production in Lyon. It had been a plan for many years to professionally record my pieces and bring them all together in an album ... and I am so relieved that Journeys Inside My Piano is finally going out into the world.
Other tidbits and insights into my album and the compositions can be found on the 'News & Tidbits' page. Thanks so much for your interest and support!