The Accompanists’ Guild of SA was the first association of accompanists formed in Australia and is one of the few Guilds of Accompanists in the world. It was from our example that Guilds were established in Queensland and NSW, a Register of Accompanists was published in 2004 in the Northern Territory and the Accompanists’ Guild of the ACT was formed in 2009.
With advice from AGSA an active group of Victorian accompanists has presented summer schools in association with Choral Conferences in 2010/11 and are looking to formalize an association. AGSA’s influence has extended to Wellington, New Zealand where their first Accompanists’ Conference is scheduled for 2012. Naturally we would like to see a national coverage which includes Tasmania and Western Australia and hope to be able to report these additions in the 2013-2014 AGSA Register.
AGSA has provided accompanying services for thousands of individuals and music organizations since 1983. We have encouraged 25 different winners of our major annual prize (variously known as the Accompanists’ Prize, the Associate Artists’ Award and the Geoffrey Parsons Award) to pursue accompanying as a career. Some of Australia’s current finest practising accompanists and chamber musicians were our prize winners.
Our aim to elevate awareness of the accompanist/collaborative pianist continues to be emphasized in the 21st century through Accompanists’ Festivals and Conferences. Recent Musicians in Residence – Phillip Moll (Berlin), David Miller (Sydney), Jean-Paul Sevilla (France), Malcolm Martineau (UK), Leslie Howard (Aus/UK), Anthony Legge (Opera Australia) and Michael Kieran Harvey (Aus) have added significant national and international recognition to the Guild’s activities. Further international connections were made during 2010/11 when the Guild was invited by the MTNA (American Music Teachers’ Association) to join the celebration of the Year of Collaborative Music
In building awareness of the significance of the accompanist from the ground up the Guild’s educational program provides a variety of educational opportunities for pianists at all levels of experience. These include
- At Primary School level – an annual concert by Primary School duos convened by Monika Laczofy.
- At Secondary School level the Young Accompanists’ Showcase convened by Gina Macri, joins student pianists with professional musicians for rehearsals, a master class and 2 public concerts.
- At Tertiary level student duos and ensembles are included in the Festival concerts and have the opportunity to enter the Geoffrey Parsons Award (an open age competition).
- At the Professional level the Geoffrey Parsons Award is available for aspiring advanced students as well as established accompanists.
- At emerging Professional level the Guild has provided opportunities for repetiteur mentorships with Co-Opera and State Opera of SA.
- At all levels masterclasses featuring the various facets of the Accompanists’ Art are arranged as suitable presenters are available.
- Following the highest point of activity in our history, the2008 Silver Anniversary, I’m proud to say the Guild continues to vigorously maintain its projects despite escalating costs. 2011 Membership numbers are the highest on record and our programs continue to attract support by audiences and sponsors.
Long may AGSA continue to highlight accompanists in their working lives and remind all music lovers of the significance of the Accompanist in the diverse world of collaborative music making.
Diana J Harris
Founder and current President
Accompanists’ Guild of SA Inc.