Meet Musica Viva: Anna Griffiths
Byline: Musica Viva
For the last 40 years, the Musica Viva In Schools program has strived to embed the joys of muic into the lives of all children throughout Australia. Every year since its conception, musicians have toured all over the country, bringing their unqiue, exciting and educational musical experiences to primary classrooms in every corner of Australia.
Enter Anna Griffiths. Anna has been one of the most important cogs in the wheel of Musica Viva In Schools for the best part of the last decade, heading up the Operations for every tour that takes place. From finding accomodation in the most regional areas of Queensland to hunting down a piano in the Kimberley region, Anna has done it all, but there is far more to her we wanted to find out.
What is your role at Musica Viva? What does a typical workday entail?
I am the Operations and Artist Manager, Education. Working closely with my colleague Jo, we move the musicians, instruments and, occasionally, family members around the country for their performances in schools. A typical day outside of touring season involves future planning, contracting, and supporting and preparing artists for the road. A typical day inside touring season is a bit more unpredictable, and amongst many things, may involve curious problem solving. Over the years there have been some interesting pickles to work through, just to name a few – we’ve rescued standard musicians when remote flights have been cancelled, found the only remaining motel rooms regional towns during annual festivals or conferences, sourced local childcare solutions, hired strangers to drive instruments or oversized cases to meet the artists when freight was not an option, phone counselling for frogs in toilets, snakes in kitchens and too many kangaroos on the road. One of the funniest pickles was when a group flew over the border between NT and WA, took no notice of the time difference and arrived at the school at 6am!
How did you come to work at Musica Viva? Have you always worked in arts organisations?
I started at Musica Viva as a volunteer for Café Carnivale, a wonderful world music program. From there I was absorbed into the Education team where I have been working in various positions for the last 9 or so years.
Can you tell us about 2020 for you, professionally? How did COVID-19-19 impact your role and what did you do?
I am going to be original and not talk about how hard 2020 was! Rather, I found it a year of discovering how much we were capable of when faced with such barriers. We converted more than 300 concerts from live experiences to online interactive performances in a matter of weeks, with everyone in the team briefly stepping into new roles or try new things to help execute our new way of delivery. It was such a success that we will now offer a new hybrid model of online and live experiences for students around Australia.
Can you tell us about yourself outside of Musica Viva. Do you play any instruments yourself or create any art, and what do you like to do with your spare time?
I don’t play instruments, but I do dance. I am drawn to all the Latin styles- Salsa, Tango, Cha Cha... I love to think that I was a Latin diva in another lifetime! Before COVID-19, I would be out most nights social dancing, but this was one of the first things to stop due to the restrictions and one of the last things to start up again. So, through 2020 I discovered Yoga, walking and online dance classes.
In addition to my love of dance, I run a local art gallery called Peach Black Gallery, with my partner, Matteo Bernasconi. With such beautiful art as a backdrop, we quickly discovered that music would go hand in hand within the space, so we now program concerts that involve a variety of artists – musicians, dancers and poets. Occasionally, we fuse ideas and have live music while our students draw, just to offer the community something fun and different!
Then finally, I produce large scale concerts or parties a few times a year. These often involve bringing together big bands or orchestras along with dancers and a dance floor for the audience. I love to curate and create experiences at events that I am passionate about and that I know will connect with my audience and get them really excited!