Meet the Musician: Penelope Thwaites

Penelope Thwaites

In this edition we take a look at the work of Australian pianist Penelope Thwaites – an untiring advocate of Australian music over the course of her distinguished career.

In her own words, she has been “promoting and playing Australian music around the world from Beijing to Zimbabwe, Poland to Turkey, London to New York – in all some thirty countries.”

Penelope is always full of bright ideas but unlike many, she possesses the determination and clear sightedness to realise her vision.

Percy Grainger

The music of Percy Grainger (1882 – 1961) (pictured) was the focus of two major London Festivals she directed in 1998 and 2011 in addition to BBC and ABC presentations and the publication of The New Percy Grainger Companion.

She has always been interested in Australia’s women composers, her earliest interaction being with Margaret Sutherland and her “bracing and combative style”.

As well as performing Sutherland’s music worldwide, Penelope gave numerous performances of Peggy Glanville-Hicks’s Etruscan Concerto in the 1980s. Names that feature among the younger generation of composers are Jennifer Fowler, Alicia Grant and Wendy Hiscocks.

Arthur Benjamin

In 1993, Penelope organised a centenary concert for Arthur Benjamin (1893 – 1960) (pictured) with herself and the harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler each performing a concerto with the LPO at Australia House. And many of us will remember the two Performing Australian Music Competitions here in London where music by eighty Australian composers was heard performed by young musicians from over twenty countries.

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