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Elizabeth Anderson (Harpsichord)

Born: Australia

Elizabeth Anderson is one of Australia finest harpsichord players. In 1992, the Melbourne International Festival of Organ and Harpsichord (now the Autumn Music Festival) commissioned a harpsichord concerto from Philip Nunn, which was dedicated to Elizabeth Anderson, and first performed by her in the 1993 Festival closing concert with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.

The audience at the Nagoya Arts Centre in Japan applauded loud and long the third encore played by Elizabeth Anderson: Willard Palmer's Blues for Harpsichord. Such encore items proved so popular, that Anderson's agent suggested that she create an entire concert programme from them. A new all-20th century programme was well-received at the 1996 Adelaide Festival. That year, Anderson gave her tenth European concert tour, playing solo recitals and four-hands organ concerts with husband, Douglas Lawrence. She received standing ovations for a popular programme at the Brandenburg Cathedral as well as in Hamburg.

In 1996 Elizabeth Anderson's CD of Bach's monumental Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) received critical acclaim in the Australian press. The CD won a Listener's Choice award from Soundscapes magazine, and appeared in The Age newspaper's top 10 new CDs for that year. She went on to perform the Goldbergs in Schloß Friedrichsfeld, Berlin, the Carouge Spring Festival, Geneva, The Sorø International Music Festival, Denmark, the Vienna Bach Week, the Melbourne Bach Week, the Castlemaine State Festival and in concert series in Hamburg, Limburg, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle. Numerous orchestral engagements followed, including 28 concerto performances with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Philharmonic, the State Orchestra of Victoria and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. This series of concertos added to Anderson's already considerable experience playing continuo and concertos with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and with historical instrument ensembles, such as the Australian Baroque Ensemble, the Festival Orchestra (MIFOH) and the Elysium Ensemble.

In the crossover department, Elizabeth Anderson's CD entitled Bizarre or baRock was a best-seller on the Move label for 1997. This programme, which plays on the multiple meanings of the word Baroque offers a varied palette, from well-known Baroque pieces, through 20th century masterpieces like Ligeti’s Hungarian Rock, to Gershwin, blues and the Beatles. The programme was given standing ovations in Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Nagoya and Osaka and was well received at the Adelaide Festival.

It was not, however, to face charges but rather to musically and dramatically represent the charges faced by John Grant, a convict who brought the first harpsichord to Australia. The presentation for the City of London Festival of her music-theatre work The Man who shot a Lawyer in the Buttock -- researched, written and directed by Anderson -- was the first musical event ever to be staged at the Old Bailey. British actor Samuel West played the lead role, reading excerpts from Grant's colourful diaries, which were interspersed with short harpsichord pieces from Grant's library. The centrepiece of the programme was Australian composer Ron Nagorcka's newly-commissioned work for harpsichord, didjeridu and Australian bush sounds.

In July 2002 she appeared as soloist in Bach's d minor Concerto with the Koszalin Symphony Orchestra in Poland. She has given many performances of Bach's concertos as well as the major concertos of the 20th century (Francis Poulenc, Martin, DeFalla) with the Australian Baroque Ensemble, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Philharmonic, the State Orchestra of Victoria, the Bach Festival Orchestra (Perth) and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House. Her recording of DeFalla's Harpsichord Concerto on the Naxos label, released in 1998, won an Editor's Choice listing in Gramaphone Magazine.

In April 2003, Elizabeth Anderson's music theatre programme Mr Bach Comes to Town delighted children at the Southern Grampians Promenade of Sacred Music in Hamilton. Old Johann Sebastian returned from the dead to introduce children to his favourite instruments; the organ and the harpsichord. He also introduced his son Karl, who played the flute. The programme concluded with the children singing the theme to the Goldberg Variations, accompanied by excerpts from Bach's 14 Canons played on organ, harpsichord and flute. Programmes such as these are motivated by Anderson's drive to communicate her enthusiasm for the harpsichord as an expressive instrument to a wider audience.

Eleven international concert tours have taken Elizabeth Anderson to Japan and Singapore, as well as throughout most of Western Europe. She has been a soloist in such concert series as Symphony Hall, Osaka, Nagoya Arts Centre, Italy's Concerti in Ville; King Frederick's Castle, Berlin; St German, Geneva, Frederikisborg Castle, Denmark and the Leeds and Aberdeen Town Halls. Major music festivals have included the Glasgow Mayfest, Dublin Early Music Festival, Brandenburg Summer Festival and the Dornburg Festival, Germany, the Haarlem Summer Academy, Holland the Vendsyssel Festival, Denmark and the Carouge Spring Festival, Switzerland. She has made many appearances in major Australian festivals, such as the Adelaide Festival, the Barossa International Music Festival, the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts, the Castlemaine State Festival and the Autumn Music Festival.

As well as maintaining a busy performing schedule, Elizabeth Anderson enjoys teaching. As well as her weekly teaching at The University of Melbourne, and teaching at the Victorian College of the Arts, she lectures and performs at other universities and music schools throughout Australia. Most recently, in January 2003, she received a return invitation to address the Victorian Music Teachers' Association Summer School in Melbourne, with a series of lecture-recitals discussing the performance and teaching of baroque repertoire on the piano.

Elizabeth Anderson lives in Melbourne with husband Douglas Lawrence, with whom she regularly gives 4-hands organ recitals, and son Jacob.

Source: Move Records Website; Elizabeth Anderson Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (August 2006)

Elizabeth Anderson: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental & Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Elizabeth Anderson (Move Records)

Elizabeth Anderson Plays Harpsichord (Official Website)

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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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