mY musical journey
I first discovered the wonders of the piano when I was aged about six, when one of the nuns at the orphanage where I lived in Auckland, New Zealand, let me tinkle one day on a piano normally kept under lock and key. I suddenly felt as though I had a voice, that I could be heard. Not all of the children at St. Joseph's in Takapuna were orphans; it was also for those separated from their parents for many different reasons.
I started having piano lessons a few years later, thanks to wonderful foster parents, the Murphys, who looked after some of my siblings and me. Luckily, one of my first piano teachers encouraged me to be creative: yes, learn how to play from books and sheet music, but also don't be scared to dabble, experiment, make up your own music, express yourself, have fun! Half of each lesson was devoted to playing my own tunes, half was set aside for the classics. I wish I could remember that teacher's name.
The last track on my album is based on a simple piece I wrote when I was about eight or nine, a tune my father liked to call 'Erin's Prelude' (my original name).
In some ways, I think the piano saved me. Through a difficult childhood, it was a constant companion, an outlet, a way to express myself, and thankfully my father agreed to buy me a lovely old piano when I went to live with him in the North Island town of Te Awamutu as a teenager. It was also a true blessing to discover the music teachers Annie McGregor, George Brooks and Judy Page at the local high school.
Some of my photographs of favourite spots in New Zealand, set to music from my piano album
There were many others who encouraged me in my musical journey, including my late grandmother, who let me take her place at the church organ in Warkworth during the school holidays; my Aunty Cushla, who took me in under her wing and showed me the importance of music; my late Aunty Kerry and Uncle John; and my late mother Noelle, who remained the biggest fan of my compositions.
Actually, as a youngster, I always thought that music would become my career. I was interested in composing and musicology when I was leaving school, but my path turned towards journalism and the media. On the very same day, I received two letters: one offering me a place at the University of Auckland's School of Music (composition programme) and the other for a highly sought-after place for a journalism course in Wellington. That was a hard decision.
However, throughout my life, no matter where I went to work as a radio and television journalist, I was fortunate enough to always get my hands on a piano (Yamahas) and I always had a composition to work on. Whether it was my first job in Whakatane, in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty, or Auckland, or Bristol in the UK, or Paris, or here in Lyon, music has always remained my first love. I currently have a Steinway-designed Young Chang baby grand, which I love, but I also dream of one day owning a gorgeous Fazioli piano!
I compose mostly for pleasure but also for the odd theatre production in Lyon. It had been a plan for many years to professionally record my pieces and bring them all together in an album ... and I am so relieved that Journeys Inside My Piano is finally going out into the world.
The album includes the following 17 pieces: A Moment of Clarity; I Refuse; A Waltz in the Parallel Universe; The Siren of Absence; A Man in his Forties; Sunnyview Road; Song for Sunglim; An Irish Boy; The Marionettes; Return to Acadia (The Sunday Crossword); Resisting; Roma Sunrise; Yesteryear Sonata (Dorian's Lullaby); The Path Not Chosen; Insolvent City (Under); The Colour of Time; and Erin's Prelude (first composition).
Journeys Inside My Piano is a compilation of many of the piano pieces I've written over the years. Some of the tracks date back to when I lived in my home country of New Zealand, but the majority were written after moving to Europe. Some of the pieces, for example, were specifically composed for theatre productions. Other tidbits and insights into my album and the compositions can be found on the News page.
The holder of both New Zealand and Irish citizenship, I have been living in France for more than 20 years. I first travelled to Europe from Auckland in 1994, spending time in London and Bristol before moving to Nice, Saint Paul de Vence and then Paris. I have been living in the southeastern city of Lyon since the end of 2003. When I'm not playing the piano or composing, I work as a journalist, presenter, correspondent, media consultant and trainer:
Thanks so much for your visit and your interest in my music.