School of Music PhD candidate wins international guitar competition

Wednesday 27 September 2017

ANU School of Music PhD candidate Callum Henshaw has won the Melbourne International Guitar Festival Concert Artist Guitar Competition with Prize Money of $1,000 and a nine concert Australian tour taking in some of the major guitar hubs as well as regional arts communities. This was the third Melbourne International Guitar Festival competition and was held over the weekend in the Melba Hall, University of Melbourne. Previous winner of the competition (2016) and ANU School of Music Alumnus Andrew Blanch featured on the festival program with guitar greats Lorenzo Micheli, Gerard Mapstone and Richard Tedesco. 

We asked Callum what the life of a PhD candidate is like, after his win on the weekend and in the run up to his second PhD recital this Friday...

"Life as a classical guitar doctoral student might run pretty much how you think! I practice for three to four hours every day, and also focus on my own research … but these two things ‘talk’ to each other. In my world, practice is research, but my research also directly concerns my practice. That involves being in my office and inside my own head a lot so when I can, I ride my bike around Canberra (dodging magpies at this time of year). Being self-reliant, self-employed and self-driven allows me a lot of freedom in how I structure my life. It does, however, feel a little isolated at times. I’m lucky to have a few understanding friends and a very understanding partner who constantly help me though. My parents have unquestioningly supported me for my entire life, something I am grateful for on a daily basis."

"In music you have the joy of being able to share what you do with many people and I perform regularly all over the place. Competitions have never really been a focus of mine, but they can be incredibly useful.  Interestingly, where I’ve had success, the opportunities that have come as a consequence of a win have far outweighed the win itself! That said, I wouldn’t say that my life revolves wholly around study and performance – I like to keep it balanced. I also love cooking, Canberra’s music and art scene and drinking too much coffee."

"My PhD is a creative practice doctorate that looks at composer-performer relationships: how these realtionships can come to affect the very musical fabric of the final work. Many performers have had a heavy hand when providing guidance to composers. Some even go as far as rewriting the music entirely so that it fits on the instrument more idiomatically. What I want to puzzle out is what we can learn about the more tacit elements of these relationships through performance, but also how a better understanding of these relationships can affect performance."

"Looming this Friday September 29 at 6.30pm is my second of three recitals for my PhD. Each of the works has particular relevance to my doctorate in how the composer and performer (or lack thereof) interacted to create the work. I am definitely most excited about the Australian premiere of Sonata del Decamerón Negro by the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer. It’s a real handful but one of the most spectacular works I’ve had the pleasure of learning. Second to that is the guitar concerto of English composer, Malcolm Arnold for which Anthony Smith will accompany me. This work flicks wildly between English pastoral scenes; dark, opium-fuelled dreams; and a curiously renaissance dance. In the mix for good measure are some folk-song arrangements by the Spanish guitarist, Miguel Llobet, and a very evocative work Stélé by the Melbourne-based composer, Phillip Houghton."

"Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to win the Melbourne International Guitar Festival Concert Artist Guitar Competition. The prize is $1,000 cash and a 9 concert tour around Australia, taking in some of the major guitar hubs as well as regional arts communities. It certainly takes the pressure off for next year, knowing that I have my concert schedule pretty much sorted. I had honestly planned to keep my head down and try to finish off my writing … Maybe I’ll have to wait until 2019."

Callum Henshaw
PhD Candidate
ANU School of Music

Facebook event for Callum's second PhD recital.

Updated:  27 September 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications