Ann Axelby, Tutti Violinist

Cultural Heart

Meet our dedicated city creatives, and learn how they are navigating and finding ways to stay creative and connected in the wake of COVID-19.

Ann axelby Ann axelby archive image

"I’ve been the Tutti Violinist for the past 39 years with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO). I was destined for the stage when I was promoted from playing the triangle to conducting the class ensemble in primary school.

Music is in my blood, both my parents were musicians."

My father was a vaudeville musician before he met my mother and during the war they performed together for the troops stationed in Queensland. He was a singer/guitarist and she was a jazz pianist and classical violinist, she used to play in the radio orchestra in Brisbane that foreshadowed the QSO. I just wish that I’d had singing lessons…I would love to be able to control my voice.

I have two violins on which I regularly play. One is my practice violin which is permanently kept in an open case on top of my piano, it was my mother’s instrument and means a great deal to me. My other instrument is the one I perform with, it is an old Italian violin which has been badly damaged but very well repaired. I was told it was blown up in the London blitz! Apparently, it was a blood-red colour originally and it may be over 300 years old.

What inspires you?
Many art forms inspire me, not just limited to music but I find inspiration in visual art having studied a Masters in Visual Arts and I have a love of Australian Aboriginal art, wall space is hard to come by in my apartment.

What has been your experience over the last few months?

Whilst in the initial stages of isolation we [ASO] were unable to rehearse together. I was practising daily at home mostly scales, studies and Bach but it varied according to my mood. I was and continue to teach my students online. I also set myself a personal goal to average 20,000 steps a day whilst in isolation, I’m lucky that our wonderful Park Lands are on my doorstep.

I also love cooking, especially bread-making (hence the need for the 20,000 steps!). Fortunately, I discovered that I can play competitive bridge with my partner and friends online too. Whilst I only live in an apartment, I have also been doing some gardening. I have a pot on my balcony, and I am trying to learn the Italian language.

It’s great that the orchestra can now rehearse and work on repertoire in small sections and ensembles. It’s great to be back playing in Grainger Studio and I hope we can be back performing on stage as soon as we can.

What do you hope to see happen next in the City of Adelaide?

I'd love to see a purpose-built concert hall to be used as the home of the ASO. Also, a fully electric public bus fleet. Buses bring so much noise and air pollution to the city. Plus, an expanded tram network in, around & out of the city in addition to dedicated bike tracks.

Where can we see more of your work?

Whilst you can’t see me performing right now I’m practising to ensure I’m ready to go when our concerts resume. And if you miss seeing the orchestra be sure to check out some of our ASO musicians in our Virtual Concert Hall, with a new virtual performance being aired each week.