Recorder virtuoso and long-time friend of Musica Viva, Genevieve Lacey needs no introduction. A common saying indeed, but one that truly fits for this brilliant musician. 

This month, Genevieve and her recorder will take to Australian stages alongside esteemed harpist, Marshall McGuire for what will be an immersive and unique concert experience filled with a wide range of music from the baroque period to modern day Australian compostions. As we look forward to this tour, we wanted to learn more about the connection Genevieve has with the instrument she has dedicated her life to; the recorder.

As one might expect, Genevieve owns more than one recorder, so we asked her to tell us about her collection of instruments - where were they made, what makes them unique, and what sets them apart from each other. Get to know these instruments in Genevieve's own words below.

What makes a recorder?

All my instruments are handmade, all wooden.

Many of them are made by Jo Saunders, who works in Melbourne, from her workshop at the Abbotsford Convent. Jo sometimes uses Australian wood for her instruments and is the only maker in the world to do so. She uses mulga.

Master and apprentice

Jo was the only apprentice to the late, great recorder maker, Fred Morgan. Fred was regarded across the world as the greatest recorder maker since the 18th century, and Jo now takes on that mantle and honour.

Fred’s workshop, in Glenlyon, near Daylesford, is not far from where I grew up. It was like Mecca for European recorder makers, all of whom made their once in a lifetime pilgrimage there to meet the great man.

A lifelong love

I’ve been playing Fred’s instruments since I was a teenager, a fact that makes my European colleagues swoon – it’s like having a Strad from the time you were 14.

Both Jo and Fred make modern reconstructions of historical instruments, meticulously measured and reimagined, based on the small number of surviving instruments in museums and private collections, and on historical drawings.

Each recorder has a different range and fingering system, as well as its own voice and character. It takes years to get to know each instrument properly, and great instruments continue to reveal themselves to you through a lifetime of playing.