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Erin Murphy

Harps and harps Erin Murphy

At the age of six, my mother offered me a choice between ballet lessons and piano lessons. Since I was perfectly able to fall down without the help of a teacher (to the point where my mother would no longer allow me to wear tights to school), I opted for piano lessons as the safer of the two. I studied for the next twelve years with Mrs Kentish, and then went on to the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, where I learned from the late Charles Glen, finally graduating with a Diploma of Music.

At the age of six, I gave my first public performance as Mary in the school Nativity Play. (In those days nobody got offended by Nativity Plays). I began singing in choirs at the age of five.

I sang with my primary school choir, taking part in several Eisteddfods at City Hall along the way, until I was kicked out for having too much fun. I then sang in the Elective Choir at high school, managing to score a small solo performance at St John’s Cathedral at the end of Year 12. I also taught and conducted my House for the Inter-House Choral Competition, finally finding my place within the school. (Well, I mean really – who wants to get up and go hurdling at 5.30 in the morning?)

After leaving school, I joined the Queensland University Music Society (QUMS) for a time, under the baton of Colin Brumby. While at the Conservatorium, I took part in all choral events, first with Ulrich Berstein, then Roy Wales, performing such works as Carmina Burana, Messiah, etc. I also sang madrigals with a small a capella group under the direction of Bruce Brazier. Apart from that, I paid very little attention. My first professional (as in paid) a capella gig came at the end of 1982, at the Cricketers’ Club Christmas Party. Everything’s a learning experience.

Upon graduating from the Conservatorium, I more or less fell into theatre work, performing with all of Brisbane’s theatre companies as an actor and/or musician at various times over the next ten years. During this time, I also toured several different shows with the Queensland Arts Council, both for schools and the general public, and learned how to play several more instruments badly, one of them being the smallest Celtic harp, which Donald made me learn in just under three weeks. That was for La Boite’s production of The Tempest. (He also roused on me for being a noisy forest musician.)

In the late 1980s, I helped form an a capella trio – The Lawless Murphys, which went on to become a quartet, (two girls, two boys) and gained a small but loyal following both in Brisbane and Sydney. During the early ‘90s, I did voice overs for Triple M and the Distance Education program in Queensland, more touring, directed the music for a few plays, had a baby, and then worked with Toadshow on their musical productions as Assistant Music Director, which led me to form, arrange for and conduct Qwired, a contemporary 30–50 voice choir, with a hugely diverse repertoire, many Brisbane performances, and a CD to their credit.

I currently spend much of my time arranging peculiar songs for whoever wants them. Last year, I helped take the “Sing” Workshop for Out of the Box, and this year have so far managed to workshop a choir in Miles (twice), start a piano teaching career, and join a music teaching program for 1 – 5 year olds. I knit a lot.

We can make your harp dreamS rEAlity​