After growing up on the Mid North Coast, Roger went on to develop his musical talent and career as a Classical guitarist and lecturer. He loves the process of making music in a diverse range of musical styles, which he will be sharing in concert as part of the Camden Haven Music Festival next month.
You grew up on the Mid North Coast. Give us a little background on your life and schooling here.
I moved to the area from the Hunter Valley when I was 6-years-old and attended Kendall Central School. Our family lived on a farm in Lorne, and it was a wonderful place to grow up.
I guess I couldn’t have fully appreciated the beauty of the area when I was younger, but now I have a completely different perspective, having been away for so long.
Life was great, and I don’t remember keeping still for too long. I had some excellent teachers in those early days: Christine Thomson for piano, and Chris Daley for guitar.
At the young age of 15, you moved to Sydney to the Conservatorium of Music High School. What did you study, and did your family move with you?
I was fortunate enough to be accepted in to the Con High and moved to Sydney without my family. I went to live with very close family friends, who were good enough to put up with my practicing and messy room! The Bairds became (and still are) my surrogate family.
I remember everything being so different from home … the buzz of the city – daunting, but exciting at the same time! School in the city was very different, and I have been fortunate to have experienced both.
You moved internationally to follow your studies and career in music a few years later. Where did you go?
My first stop was England, immediately after the HSC. I was awarded a Big Brother scholarship for overseas studies in England. I had lessons with Carlos Bonel, who taught at the Royal College of Music. I came back to Sydney for a while to continue at the Conservatorium of Music, but I was drawn back to Europe and wanted to try and secure a position at a university over there.
At first I left for Italy and studied with Oscar Ghilia in Siena at the Accademia della Chighiana during the summer months. I wasn’t sure what to do next, so Oscar suggested I apply for a late audition at the Salzburg Mozarteum, as well as in Basel.
The Salzburg audition was first, and two things happened: I ran out of money for the train-trip to Basel, and my audition was successful! I ended up staying for six years, and completed a Masters at the Mozarteum.
What challenges did you face, if any?
Learning German. The cold. Being a broke student away from home and the surf! Apart from that, it was a fantastic experience. Actually, it was more than an experience; it’s part of who I am now and has changed me forever (in a good way, I hope).
One of the biggest challenges was also having to completely rebuild my technique while taking lessons with Marco Tamayo. He is an incredible virtuoso and insists all of his students learn with a certain set of principles.
In my case, this was definitely for the better, even though it was hard learning the basics again. At the time when I changed to Marco, I had just come off a 3rd prize win in my first international competition, so to be told I had to stop playing and just practice exercises was frustrating at first – but well worth it in the end!
Who have been some of your greatest mentors?
I have had so many, all of whom have taught me in very different ways: Greg Pikler, Ron Philpott, Judy Bailey, Marco Tamayo, Oscar Ghilia, my good friends Yorgos Nousis and Laetitia Ribeiro and of course, Graham Caldersmith.
All have taught me more than they probably know and have shaped the way I think about music. A great mentor is someone who connects with you and is passionate about your success and understanding.
You are returning to the area for the Camden Haven Music Festival in May. What performances will you be entertaining us with?
I will be playing one concert at the Festival, on Friday the 13th of May (no, I’m not superstitious) at the Manning Regional Art Gallery, Taree.
Are you collaborating with anyone for the performance, or is it solo?
For this concert, I will be collaborating with the amazingly talented drummer and percussionist, Deva Permana. The program is really exciting, and very different to my ‘normal’ programs of Classical guitar music. This concert is full of fusion compositions from my friends Yorgos Nousis and Diego Barber, arrangements that I have made of Domeniconi and Piazzolla and also a world premiere of my own composition Three Brothers.
I am really excited about this particular collaboration, also because I will be playing my new bass / guitar hybrid instrument. We are all very lucky to have a festival that supports this kind of project, and I am really looking forward to this collaboration. You keep busy teaching through a number of universities. Tell us about those programs.
Currently, I am teaching music history at the Australian International Conservatorium of Music, music theory and aural at the Australian Institute of Music and tutoring classical guitar at the University of New South Wales. All are fantastic places to work, and I consider myself very lucky.
Will you be visiting any local schools while you are here?
Unfortunately no, although in the future I would love to visit some schools in the area. I think kids would be fascinated with this new instrument that I am playing.
What would you say is one of your greatest achievements?
I don’t really know how to answer. I feel like I achieve something every time I make good music – whether it’s a great achievement, I don’t know. But I do love it, the process of making music.
So I guess my greatest achievement is to have learnt (not mastered yet) this process: how to make music, and collaborate with others.
Have you got a website, or page where people can hear your music or follow you?
I have a website that umbrellas all of my projects and creative activities: www.soundlabyrinth.com.au
It’s still a work in progress, which I am updating and building constantly.
I try to stay as musically diverse as possible, so you’ll find a range of musical styles and collaborations, including music and information from Laetitia Ribeiro, Yorgos Nousis, Dr. Opin, Emma Sholl, my solo projects Roger Vs. The Man and soundlabyrinth project, as well as news about future activities.
This year will be one spent in the studio, recording albums. I have two planned with Emma Sholl, one solo Classical guitar album, one with my rock group Roger Vs. The Man and hopefully one with Deva as well!
Thank you Roger.
+61 (0) 412 130 345
+43 (0) 680 13 166 13
Performers: Roger Lock and Deva Permana
Camden Haven Music Festival
Friday 13 May 2011
Manning Regional Gallery, Taree.