Karin Schaupp is overcoming “the most difficult time of my performing career”


BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

Karin Schaupp hasn’t performed for a while.

The classical guitarist has been forced to abandon her 2020 plans. This has meant bidding farewell to a schedule of events that would have seen her tour from Bendigo to Armidale; Townsville to Sydney.

But scrolling through Karin’s calendar of cancelled dates also reveals a glistening light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel. And it reads:

August 22, 7pm: Live streamed concert for Musica Viva

This is a concert that marks Karin’s big return to live music performance during a seemingly impossible time for the arts.

“To be honest, I needed some time to deal with it all privately, and I have been turning down opportunities to do live stream events for some months, now,” Karin shares of her career during COVID-19.

“Musica Viva’s warm invitation to do this event felt like the right way to jump back in, and I am excited to be ‘getting back on the horse’, so to speak.”

Karin is slated to bring her “signature warmth of sound and engaging persona to the online stage”, as described with eloquence on the Musica Viva listing. Even if you’ve not yet listened to her music – and you will indeed have the opportunity to do so – this “signature warmth” seems to enter all aspects of her performance career, from the music itself through to her approach to audiences. It’s a positivity she wishes to share.

“I have always thought of digital concerts as a lovely alternative option for those who can’t attend live concerts. Since that is all of us right now, I am embracing the medium with an open mind and heart.”

Though some composers will ring out as familiar, you’ve probably not heard of many of the works on Karin’s program. In this way, it’s worth embracing her performance with your own open mind, welcoming the joys that can be found in a variety of styles. Sonatas by Scarlatti will fall alongside works from Barrios, Brouwer, and Bach – and they’ve all been selected to “provide an opportunity for reflection and a moment of peace”.

“I have chosen a very special program of pieces all of which are meaningful to me at this time, so I hope the audience will come on the journey with me and take the leap into a new format.”

Karin’s event is one of the first concerts in the suite of upcoming Musica Viva ‘Discover’ series of live streams, marking a fascinating new direction for the arts organisation as it navigates its 75th birthday. As about three-quarters of Australian audiences have started to shift their arts engagement into the digital sphere, Musica Viva is embracing change – and bringing Australian artists and listeners along for the ride.

“Music has such great potential to heal and to create an inner sanctuary for those who play, and equally for those who listen”

Aside from the obvious benefit (that is, the ability to continue listening to music when the venues are closed), live streaming also brings about a few unexpected advantages for artist and audience member alike. For instance, the professional quality of a live stream also has the potential to reach listeners in new ways – projecting the nuances of an instrument, and allowing space for detail that couldn’t ordinarily be heard at the back of a concert hall.

Karin describes this as “particularly relevant to the guitar, which is a rather softly spoken instrument and can get easily lost in a big hall if not amplified properly”.

“I am thrilled that Musica Viva is taking such enormous care with the audio and visual quality of the concert.”

It’s not only a matter of reaching audiences in new ways; it’s also about reaching new audiences. Though Karin was scheduled to perform at a number of physical venues this year, the audiences she will now reach are not restricted by location – her music has become accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This expanded reach is something Karin reckons is “definitely a plus!”.

“I am thrilled to be able to play for people who can’t – perhaps some who never could – come to live concerts but are craving the experience,” she says.

“Music has such great potential to heal and to create an inner sanctuary for those who play, and equally for those who listen. At this time, that is what I hope this concert will offer the audience – wherever they may be.”

Karin’s philosophy for performance is very much focused on the needs of her listener. Even when she’s in the studio, recording guitar for an album, Karin plays her music “with the imagination of a live audience in the room”. So when it comes to preparation for her live stream, Karin says she’s practising as she would with any other performance.

That said, it’s not been easy. And even though Karin may be returning to her routine of performance, it’s a reminder that even the most experienced and talented musicians are working extra hard to achieve their dreams during the pandemic.

“I can say unreservedly that this has been the most difficult time of my performing career,” Karin says.

“Normalcy in life for me right now comes from my family, my children, my students, and all the new projects I am involved with and dreaming up for a time when they will be able to go ahead.”

With the knowledge that this is a difficult time for arts lovers, too, Musica Viva has offered Karin’s concert as an affordable event, with tickets priced to start at $5. Karin believes in keeping the arts accessible to those who might struggle to afford it – particularly now.

“I am thrilled that Musica Viva have chosen this option as I feel it is vital in the current climate, and reflects on the wonderful individuals who make Musica Viva what it is.”

Discover Musica Viva with Karin Schaupp at 7pm this August 22. Tickets are structured as “pay what you can” between $5-25, and you can order yours up to 30 minutes before Karin takes to her digital stage.

We’ve teamed up with Musica Viva to bring you this story about Karin Schaupp during COVID-19. How are you enjoying music during the pandemic?

Images supplied. Credit: Cybele Malinowski.