The Art of Invention

Da Vinci's Apprentice is about a girl who dreams of being an inventor. It features music by Australian composer Sally Greenaway, played on instruments from the time of Leonardo da Vinci. We sat down with performers Jenny Eriksson, Shaun Ng, Jack Collinson and Alex Siegers to hear more about the show.  

Can you please introduce yourself and tell us the role/instrument you play? 

Hi! My name is Jack Collinson. In ‘Da Vinci’s Apprentice’ I play the fiendishly difficult cornetto part as well as the role of the grumpy workshop master. 

My name is Jenny Eriksson and I play the viola da gamba and I am also the father of Roberta in Da Vinci’s apprentice. 

My name is Alex Siegers and I am a vocalist, and in Da Vinci’s Apprentice, I play Roberta Palladino, the hero of our story. 
I’m Shaun Ng, the theorbo player in Da Vinci’s Apprentice. Other than a musical role, I don’t actually play a character in the performance. However, because Da Vinci doesn’t appear in the play, I sometimes believe I’m actually playing him. I just don’t get to say anything because everyone else is too busy speaking over me! 

Please describe your performance in three words.  

Jack: Magical, wondrous, inspiring! 

Jenny: Intriguing, provocative, engaging   

Alex: Imaginative, exciting and stimulating 

Shaun: Dramatic, epic, heroic. 

You've been touring Da Vinci's Apprentice for more than a year. Do you still have inspiring moments? 

Jack: There’s too many to mention! Watching the students’ faces light up each show is very inspiring but my favourite moment in the show itself is actually seeing the teachers’ ears prick up when they realise this isn’t a normal school show… 

Jenny: I have the opportunity during question time to ask a student to come up and play and discover things about the viola da gamba. Some students have played an instrument before but for others this is their first ever experience of playing an instrument.  To see the smiles on the students’ faces as they bow the low G sting, nearly always perfectly, just makes my day. You never know how your show will touch a child.  

Alex: The thing I love the most is when we get a creative gift in return from the children. I remember performing in a small rural school (that had a total enrolment of about 20 students) and after we finished our performance, several of the students got up and performed a dance for us. They were so excited to have us there, and it was so wonderful to be able to have that creative exchange with them. I really hope our performance fueled their spark for creativity and performance.   
Shaun: I get inspired every time I see the work that the kids have done about the show, especially when they have built real-life inventions. It’s also a great moment when kids can sing along to the songs they have learnt from the show. 

Last term you went to schools all over Western NSW. In Term 3 you tour all over Victoria. Do you have any crazy stories from being on the road? 

Jack: Lots! We played an impromptu gig in a pub in Hyden, right next to Wave Rock in WA. It was a very fun and bizarre experience. All four of us huddled by the fireplace jamming out some renaissance classics as onlookers admired from antique armchairs. 

Jenny: I second this. A cornetto, viola da gamba, theorbo and classical voice playing in a pub in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday evening? As we played more people gathered around to listen including school kids who were to hear us the next morning. We were hoping to be asked back to play a gig but alas that never happened! 

Thanks so much, Da Vinci's Apprentice. One last question. What item would you bring from 2023 to the 16th century to present to the great Leonardo Da Vinci, and why?  

Jenny: A GPS navigation device! Maps are all very well but hard to read on your lap while navigating to school concerts. My nickname before GPS's were invented was ‘U-turn'.   

We wish you safe travels (and no U-turns) on your Term 3 tour of Melbourne, Geelong and Hume.