Article: The music that shaped…Cate Blanchett

“It’s a bit like love-making, you can’t think about the climax you have to just start at the beginning.”

Ethereal Australian actress and former Artistic co-Director of the Sydney Theatre Company joined ABC Classic FM’s Margaret Throsby to talk about the music that has influenced her work, ‘third-eye’ acting, and preparing for the stage.

You can stream the Spotify playlist below and read more about why Cate chose the music she did, or head to this ABC Classic FM ‘Midday’ podcast link and listen to the interview

[I cannot embed the Spotify playlist but CLICK HERE to listen to all the songs below.]

Balam Acab Oh, Why
I came across this because Benedict Andrews – who directed a production for us at Sydney Theatre Company, called Grosse and Klein – chose it as the final piece of music after a very extraordinary night in the theatre. It gave me such a sense of peace and relief and comfort.

Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf, Op.67 (excerpt)
I grew up with this. I was very aurally aware. My mother used to play this to my brother, sister and I. And the moment when the wolf came in was one of great terror and excitement for me…I’ve played this to our children and it’s the sense that suddenly a musical instrument can become a creature and it’s all in the child’s imagination.

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited
It was the only time I’ve ever seen Andrew (Upton) jealous, when I was (preparing for the role), poring over the old interviews Dylan gave during the European tour of 1965…Oh, he was electric! I think I wanted to BE him, rather than to go out with him. He’s an extraordinary artist. A chameleon. I love a lot of Dylan songs, but this is what I would listen to every day before I came out of the trailer.

Iannis Xenakis Voile
I knew nothing of Xenakis until Andrew and I went to see the Australian Chamber Orchestra, who, in a stroke of genius had gotten Alex Ross, music critic for the New Yorker, to curate an evening in which he gave a lecture before each of the pieces were played. He’s a remarkable writer and revealer, he places you – through his writing and his perception and his historical contextualisation of the works – right in the music. And this is a very difficult piece, that perhaps if I had heard unaccompanied by his great mind, I would have found it impenetrable. I felt like the back of my head had been blown off! The understanding of Xenakis, and what he was doing (when he wrote this), Alex Ross took me inside the music and I felt the power of the second world war. As a listener I found it inspirational, and as an artistic director, Andrew and I had an epiphany – this is what we, and the ACO have been trying to do – it’s placing a difficult work and perforating it and allowing the audience to have an experience of something they’ve never experienced before.

Lyubov Orlova Funny Guys: Tyuh Tyuh
I think in Hungarian it means ‘Wow, Wow’. Tamas Asher (is) one of the great directors of Chekhov that the world currently has (and) we were very lucky to have him direct Uncle Vanya – he turned the whole thing on its head. It had a remarkable cast…and he knew none of our bodies of work but he’d heard of the (Sydney Theatre) company…as a result he really pushed us already quite established artists into new directions, and THEN he started off the night with this really crazy piece of music which really set the tone.

Special thanks to the lovely CBD-reader M for the link 🙂



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