Byline: Musica Viva

Esteemed, classically trained harpists, Alice Giles and Liena Lacey guide students through the frozen wonder of Antarctica with sounds of the harp, seals, penguins, water, wind and ice in their engaging Musica Viva In Schools performance. We caught up with the creator of this concert experience, Alice Giles to learn more about the musicians outside of Musica Viva In Schools, how they adapted to online performances during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, and much more.

Tell us about your performance. What can teachers and students expect, and what is your favourite part of the show?

This is a show about experiencing adventure through music. It reflects the Antarctic experience with a wide variety of emotions such as joy, excitement and the experience of beauty, as well as physical experiences such as wind, cold, and exhilaration, all through a variety of music and visuals. We bring the students on the expedition and invite their participation in finding musical sounds that express their feelings. My favourite part is when everyone joins in with A’Roving - fingers crossed this will be OK to do this term!

Can you tell us about your/your ensemble's history with Musica Viva In Schools?

We’ve been doing the show for two years now, and it always feels fresh. My professional life tends to be more serious, with performances in concert halls playing solo or chamber music. So the Musica Viva In Schools experience is such a wonderful change, where we are able to have fun, interact with our audience and yet still feel we are involved in the important and essential element of musical connection. The enthusiasm and engagement of the students is a huge reward.

Outside of MVIS, what does the ensemble get up to musically?

We are both classically trained harpists. Liena is currently spending a lot of time being Mum to baby daughter Inessa as well as teaching, and I am performing, recording and teaching at the Sydney Conservatorium.


Watch our Adventues in Antarctica sizzle reel including teacher and student testimonials above!

2020 was a difficult year. What did you do to keep creative and musical?

The cancellation of virtually all my usual work as a performing musician meant that I was able to focus on producing a couple of CDs which were released last year (Harp in Chamber Music and Christmas Carols). I also taped videos for my online harp school (agonline harp resource). So as with most musicians, there was plenty to do and catch up on creatively. But it is so good to be back performing live, bringing the beauty of the resonance of the harp to audiences, something which is not the same through a speaker!

Last year you took your performance digital for MVIS online. What are some of the advantages/benefits of the online experience?

The process of converting to an online format was really interesting as we needed to think about bringing the students into our studio space rather than “performing” in a conventional way. There was a lot of interaction and time for questions. We also did some hybrid shows with one of us in the studio and one with the students live in Tasmania. So it’s made us pretty versatile! I feel this process will inform the live performances this year. 

What are you most looking forward to in 2021 and beyond?

Certainly getting back on the road, having real interactions and most of all seeing all those shining faces as we share music live!