Dawn Plasto interviews the Graduate Choir’s current president Jackie Rotenstein

Q. Thank you for talking to us Jackie. Perhaps you might like to tell us about your family. Are they from Europe and are they musical?

A. My family indeed comes from Europe – Russia and Hungary – but I was born in Melbourne.  I still have family spread across the world in eastern Europe, America, South America and Israel.

My parents never had a chance to learn a musical instrument, but both always loved classical music.  We always had classical music in the background in our home.  Lots of Chopin, Beethoven, Rachmaninov… operas, piano concerti, symphonies

Q. Where were you educated and did you learn music at school?

A. I was born and educated in Melbourne.  I started my musical journey with Yamaha at preschool age, and moved to piano lessons at around 5-6 years old.  I also played the violin, cello, crumhorn and electric bass along the way! After I finished high school, I spent two years of a four year Music degree at the Melbourne Conservatorium before transferring to Law/Economics at Monash.

Q. What lead you to the Grads?

A. I happened to chat to one of the Grads choristers (Kirk) while we were both waiting for our children’s AMEB exams at Clarence Street. Kirk told me about the Grads Choir, and it sounded fantastic – just the kind of choir/music repertoire I love to sing.   I looked at the Grads website, and applied to join.  My first performance with the Choir was An Australian War Requiem in 2014 – a wonderful experience.

Q. What is your favourite piece of choral music and why?

A. I have many favourites including Verdi’s Requiem and Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

Recently exposed to other outstanding music, my current favourite is the Requiem by Francois Joseph Gossec,  a Belgian composer from the Classical period.

I also enjoy attending the Opera – far too many favourites to list here, but I can’t go past mentioning La Boheme!

Q. Do you have other interests as well as music?

A. Family time, scuba, a bit of running / swimming laps to keep fit.  I absolutely love bushwalking & hiking through our National Parks and spotting wildlife!  (Being the Grads President does take up quite a bit of my time though!)

Q. What books do you like to read?

A. Science fiction & adventure stories.  I also read a lot of articles about scuba diving and about international current events, especially in the Middle East

Q. I know you travel overseas, and wonder if have you attended concerts and operas while travelling?

A. I’ve done lots of overseas travel over the years, including to the USA, Chile, Israel, Asia and the South Pacific islands. I have also done lots of travelling and exploring in the National Parks around Australia. Haven’t been to Tasmania yet!  That’s still on my ‘to do’ list.

I don’t tend to see concerts when I travel, as I enjoy exploring fairly remote locations, and they are often on or under the water!

Dawn Plasto

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