Lifestyle The Arts Swoon to Their Toons
Swoon to Their Toons
Written by Peter McClelland

He’s the musical polymath who composed the score for the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, played with some of the jazz greats in Europe and he’s on his way to Perth. Paul Grabowsky, with songstress Kate Ceberano, is bringing Love Songs to His Majesty’s Theatre on October 6 for a night of ‘stripped back and reimagined’ classics.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun doing the show with Kate. We’ve both go a long way, right back to the early 1980s when we performed together in Melbourne’s jazz scene. We’re good friends and that makes it much easier to create a sense of intimacy with the audience, particularly when we’re playing music that means so much to both of us.”

“Kate is a very generous person onstage and she really knows how to take the audience along with her on a musical journey.”

As a young boy there was always music in the Grabowsky home and Paul readily concedes he couldn’t live without it.

“A world without music would be an awful place to live and it’s been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father was a musician, although not a professional one, and we always had music in the house. My brother plays music for a living, too.”

“In the early days I played a lot in both Europe and New York, in fact I did some classes at the Juilliard School. But the majority of my musical education was in Melbourne at the Conservatorium. There were some wonderful young musicians there who went on to have terrific careers.”

The list of Paul’s musical interests is a long and eclectic one, ranging from playing jazz with Art Farmer and Chet Baker to the Hush program in children’s hospitals all around Australia.

“I guess I’ve inherited some of my father’s restlessness, he was a self-taught engineer and pilot and did some amazing things in New Guinea. I’m also endlessly curious about the world and music is my medium to explore life.”

“It’s really wonderful to be able to apply the language of music to all kinds of different situations. I know I’m approaching the magic 60 years, but I honestly feel that my best creative years are ahead of me. That’s one of the good things about music, you can keep doing it right into your old age and it has the added benefit of keeping your brain agile as well.”

“I became involved in the Hush program after our son was ill and had a stint in hospital. We wanted to do something that would improve the ambience in a hospital environment because they can be pretty intimidating places for young children – and their parents, too!”

A long career as a professional musician can take its toll and Paul hasn’t emerged totally unscathed.

“I haven’t had any RSI issues but playing piano does put a bit of pressure on the shoulders and the finger muscles. I’ve always tried to stay really ‘centred’ when I’m playing and maintain that core strength in the solar plexus region.”

“But I do have problems with tinnitus due to some of those high frequencies you get in jazz, those big clashes of cymbals aren’t great! The ringing in my ears isn’t crippling. I’m aware it’s there but it doesn’t bother me too much.”

Paul is looking forward to returning to Perth and gives a glimpse of the Love Songs concert.

“We’ll be playing music that Kate and I both enjoy and we’re sure that the audience will get a sense of that. I hope that when the curtain comes down and people wend their way home they’ll take some memories of these beautiful songs with them.”