The songs must go on
Meet Novocastrian Anthony Albrecht, world-renowned renaissance cellist, nature lover, and one of the driving forces behind two chart topping albums of birdsong and frog calls.
It was such a thrill to see our album Songs of Disappearance – Australian Bird Calls beat the likes of Taylor Swift, Paul Kelly or Jimmy Barnes on the ARIA charts,” says Anthony with a smile. “It felt even better with our second one, Australian Frog Calls. Birdsong is one thing but pushing an album solely made up of a collated chorus of 43 of our most threatened frogs was definitely more of a challenge!
“But within weeks of its release last December it had leaped past Adele and Ed Sheeran to the No.3 spot of the ARIA album charts. “It was just sensational for raising awareness for a species that is suffering such an incredibly steep decline.”
Let’s take two steps (or leaps?) back here. Why does an internationally acclaimed cellist and impresario of world-class events, the first Australian to be admitted to the masters course in historical performance at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, guest principle cellist on the Sydney Philharmonic Choir get so passionate about the buzzing of bowerbirds or the croaks of the Eastern Banjo Frog that he is going all out to make sure they claim top spots in the charts?
Breaking down barriers
It began with a harmonious meeting of ambition and memories. When Anthony left Australian shores to pursue his studies at Juilliard in 2014, he spoke of his goal to “become an adaptable renaissance cellist who is capable of performing at the highest levels.” However, he also admits to some of his fondest childhood memories being from bird sightings in the Hunter Wetlands, Blackbutt Reserve and his own backyard in Newcastle.
“I was inspired by my dad, who was a budding ornithologist,” shares Anthony about his childhood.
“The song of birds was always there and when I went overseas I’d often close my eyes and conjure up birdsong in my mind. I’d hear it in the background, and it would cause a bang of the heart.”
Coming back from the Big Apple, his love for playing the cello hadn’t changed, but living in the high-rise jungle of New York had triggered a new passion: “I wanted to bring arts and sciences, music and nature together, to make the story of our planet more accessible. I was looking for a sense of purpose and started to think of my cello as a storytelling tool.”
He went on to create Bach from the Bush, a self-managed solo tour of over 80 concerts in regional Australia, inspired by his love for nature and admiration for Johann Sebastian Bach, the 18th century German musician and composer, in whom Anthony recognised a kindred spirit. “He was a very observant naturalist and closely followed scientific developments. There are many mathematical principles like the golden ratio shining through in his work,” explains Anthony. “Bach from the Bush was an informal performance, with audiences reacting differently than in classical concerts. But it was still only cello recitals and I kept wondering how I could better combine my love for music and nature, but also how to make classical music more accessible to wider audiences.”
Find our more about Songs of Disappearance at www.songsofdisappearance.com
Read more in the Autumn Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.