Johannes, with the Johannes Luebbers Dectet, from his award-winning debut album Make Some Noise.
Music – their favourite thing, along with politics, gender equality and teaching the oldies a thing or two
Despite being raised on a solid diet of musicals, my children have developed their own taste in music, and have both now grown up enough to teach their parents a thing or two.
Johannes, 30, is now a jazz composer and musician. He was based in Perth, teaching at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and composing and performing for 12 years, but moved to the Australian National University in Canberra in January this year to take up a new position and complete his PhD.
As a freelance composer, arranger, pianist and a former Australia Council Music Board member, it seems he has always had a finger in every musical pie. In Perth, he was formerly head of the Perth Jazz Society, and a founder of the Listen/Hear Collective, a new record label promoting new music. He also composed and conducted for two of his own bands, the JLD – Johannes Luebbers Dectet – and a new septet, yet to be named, which debuted at the Art Gallery of Western Australia last year.
In the past few years, he has also produced his second album of compositions, The Exquisite Corpse of Beethoven, for which he was awarded of the ‘Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year’ (Australian Jazz ‘Bell’ Awards) in May 2011 and the 2011 ‘Jazz Work of the Year’ (APRA/AMC Art Music Awards).
He also toured New York and Canada with award-winning WA singer/songwriter Helen Shanahan in 2014.
This year, Johannes and librettist Nicholas Christos were selected by New Musicals Australia for a workshop of their musical about the life of Dame Nellie Melba.
Simply called Melba, the musical focusses on the star’s career and the little known struggle that she faced to keep custody of her son, George. A workshop production was also held at Chapel Off Chapel in February 2012, featuring Dimity Shepherd and Maria Mercedes.
In Canberra, between supporting his students and working on his PhD, he’s also performing in the Johannes Luebbers Quintet.
Johannes and his girlfriend, Emma, and everyone’s favourite dog, Winnie, are enjoying getting to know Canberra, but perhaps not the colder weather.
Greta, is now 22, and an eloquent and passionate supporter of women’s rights, while also retaining her interest in music.
She graduated from the University of Melbourne last December, with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in politics, and a Diploma of Music (Classical Voice).
While at university, she also spent two years as a member of Trinity College Choir at Melbourne University, singing evensong every Sunday at Trinity Chapel, as well as performing in numerous other concerts and recitals. Highlights were singing St Matthew Passion at Easter at the Melbourne Recital Centre, and also Celestial Vivaldi in September 2011 with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and touring Germany, Russia and the Eastern bloc, performing in some of Europe’s most famous churches.
In 2011, Greta was also an opera scholar with Opera Scholars Australia. The Scholars program is run by Australian Music Events, which produces in the popular Opera in the Market and Opera in the Alps.
She also completed a semester in Paris in August 2013, studying politics, French and philosophy at the Paris Institute of Political Science, otherwise known as Sciences Po.
Greta is now working at the Department of Justice as a project officer, and is considering applying for Honours soon and returning to study part time. She is also very busy as one of the main organisers of Women’s Melbourne’s Network (WMN), a voluntary group that organises monthly meetings and events to inspire and empower women in the movement towards gender equality.
As for Rob and I, we are living and working in Singapore and enjoying new adventures and friendships there, but happily returning to Melbourne to support family and catch up with friends whenever possible.
Between work, Rob and his friend Matt, are regulars at Targa, (car racing) with Rob as navigator and Matt as driver. Every November and January my heart rate and our insurance goes up as they both return to Australia for Targa events.
I am mostly writings plays these days (see home page and more), as well as some songs, and enjoying nurturing my lifelong passion for the theatre both in Australia and Singapore, while also exploring a new interest – the ukulele. (Don’t laugh – this is serious).
We will all be home for Christmas, although the definition of home is variable now that Rob and I live in Singapore, Johannes and Emma are in Canberra, and Greta lives in Melbourne.
Here’s the family selfie from last Christmas:
From left: Emma, Johannes, Me, Rob and in front, Bambi and Greta.
Stay tuned for the next one!
And here’s Greta, having snaffled my uke last time I went back to Melbourne. Thankfully, she bought one of her own.
Apologies for all this shameless bragging, but if you can’t promote your kids on your own website, where the hell can you?
[Johannes’s music] is music of great substance and should be heard by all who want more from music than an instant hit and not much else. In a word, it is exceptional.’ – Tony Gould AM
Johannes Luebbers is an award-winning jazz composer and musician, based in Perth, Australia.
Winner of the 2009 Youth Arts WA Citizen of the Year and the coveted APRA ‘Best Australian Jazz Song of the Year’ at the 2009 Australian Jazz ‘Bell’ Awards, Johannes Luebbers graduated from the WA Academy of Performing Arts in 2006, completing a BMus (Honours), majoring in jazz arranging and composition.
Since 2007 Johannes has taught Jazz Arranging at WAAPA and in 2008 took up the position of ‘composer in residence’ there.
The Johannes Luebbers Dectet was formed in 2007 as a vehicle for Johannes’s compositions and has since become one of Perth’s most interesting and exciting jazz ensembles, picking up nominations for Best Jazz Act at the 2009 & 2010 WAMi Awards.
The Dectet has performed at the York Jazz Festival (WA), the Perth Jazz Society, WAAPA and in 2009 launched their critically acclaimed debut album, Make Some Noise, at The Ellington Jazz Club. Songs from the album were also finalists in the 2008 Great American Song Contest and the 2008 Unisong International Songwriting Competition.
The JLD’s newly released album The Exquisite Corpse of Beethoven, (pictured below) was officially released in Perth at the Ellington on January 12 and 13 2011.
Greta’s early training was with the Australian Talent School and the Children’s Performing Company of Australia. She performed in several amateur musicals in Melbourne as a child, including Les Miserables, Aladdin and The Sound of Music, before moving to Thailand with her family, where she was introduced to classical music by Sophie Tanapura, the founder of the Metropolitan Opera of Bangkok. Greta performed the role of Barbarina in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro for the MOB in Bangkok in 2007. Upon returning to Australia, Greta studied classical voice with Monique Brynnel for two years, winning several prizes in local eisteddfods.
Greta completed VCE at Box Hill High School in 2010 and was one of 30 featured soloists in the 2010 Victorian State School Spectacular production, Shine On, performed at the Hisense Arena on September 18 and 19, and televised on Channel 7 on October 3.
Greta and Ruvarashe Ngwenya in the final number, Time to Say Goodbye.
You can hear it on youtube
…but don’t tell Greta as she is very modest, and always striving for perfection, so nothing is ever good enough.
Greta far right, as Rapunzel in Into the Woods
Greta was also the featured soloist at the Eastern Metropolitan Region Youth Concert, Roam, at Hamer Hall last May, and was one of 22 VCE solo music performance students to record two items from their program for the 3MBS Springboard program.
Right: (red dress) just before heading off to Hamer Hall.
In 2009, Greta performed the principal role of Rowan in the Victorian Opera’s youth production of Benjamin Britten’s The Little Sweep.
Greta, right,singing the aria Run Poor Sweep Boy in The Little Sweep at Horti Hall, and below with the children.