Johannes, with the Johannes Luebbers Dectet, from his award-winning debut album Make Some Noise.
Music – their favourite thing
Despite being raised on a solid diet of musicals, my children have developed their own taste in music.
Johannes, 28, is now a jazz composer and musician, based in Perth, and Greta is finishing up a semester in Paris, studying politics, French and philosophy at the Paris Institute of Political Science, otherwise known as Sciences Po.
Next semester she will finish her Arts degree at the University of Melbourne and the following semester she will finish her Diploma of Music (classical voice) at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.
It’s been a wonderful experience, but she’s happy to come home, although the definition of home is variable now that Rob and I live in Singapore, Johannes lives in Perth, and she lives in Melbourne.
This year has been busy for Johannes, too, as he received a scholarship to complete his PhD on “Exploring collaborative frameworks in new music creation” at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where he completed his honours degree in jazz composition in 2006 and where he also teaches.
As a freelance composer, arranger, pianist and Australia Council Music Board member, it seems he has a finger in every musical pie. He is head of the Perth Jazz Society, a founder of the Listen/Hear Collective, a new record label promoting new music, and he composes and conducts 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 month.
He is also collaborating with librettist Nicholas Christo on a new musical on 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 held at Chapel Off Chapel in February this year, featuring Dimity Shepherd and Maria Mercedes.
This week, Johannes is in Tokyo on a post-graduate exchange program. Participants were asked to “wear their national costume and dance their national dance,” which is fine if you are an indigenous Australian, but not if your heritage is a melting pot of German/Italian/Danish and English. In the end, they accepted his offer to simply play the piano.
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).
Greta, who will be 21 in March, spent the previous two years as a member of Trinity College Choir at Melbourne University, while studying her Arts and Music degrees, and working at Elevate Education, visiting schools to promote tertiary education. Check out the choir, here: http://www.trinity.unimelb.edu.au/about/flagship-programs/choir.htm.
The choir sings Evensong at Trinity Chapel every Sunday, as well as performing in numerous other concerts and recitals. Even if you are not religious, this is well worth attending. It also performs regularly in concerts around Melbourne and interstate, including the St Matthew Passion at Easter at the Melbourne Recital Centre, and also Celestial Vivaldi in September 2011 with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, also at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Last year, Greta toured Germany, Russia and the Eastern bloc with the choir, 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.
You can find out more at http://www.australianmusicevents.com.au/opera-scholars-australia-program.htm.
When she returns to Melbourne in the New Year, she will resume lessons with Suzanne Johnston.
However, despite the fact that Johannes and Greta are at opposite ends of the musical spectrum, we still all enjoy the occasional night of nostalgia, singing about our favourite things.
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.