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Gillian Wills

Gillian Wills

Gillian Wills, a graduate of The Royal Academy of Music, writes for ABR, Inreview, Australian Stage Online, and has published with The Australian, Limelight Magazine, Griffith Review, and Artist Profile. Her debut novel Big Music (Hawkeye Publishing) will be out in 2024.

'Festival of Outback Opera 2024: Opera Queensland goes to Longreach' by Gillian Wills

ABR Arts 23 May 2024
Black kites wheeling above parched plains, big hats, rattling road trains, and vast skies form the backdrop for the Festival of Outback Opera in remote ‘Waltzing Matilda country’ – a place studded with cattle stations and opal mines. Here, Banjo Paterson penned his jolly swagman opus. It is a place, in the bard’s words, ‘where the telegraph don’t reach you nor the railways run to town ... (read more)

Gillian Wills reviews 'Singing Australian: A History of Folk and Country Music' by Graeme Smith

May 2006, no. 281 01 May 2006
Tracing both the frisson between city and outback realities and the impact of politics on the music scene, Singing Australian is not only about the intersections between folk and country music and their appropriations from a raft of other genres; it is also an insightful chronicle of Australia’s struggle for identity as a post-colonial society, the search for nationhood through song and an expan ... (read more)

Gillian Wills reviews 'Brown Skin Blue' by Belinda Jeffrey

July-August 2009, no. 313 01 July 2009
The Adelaide River in the Northern Territory is both a small township and a river that is an infamous cruising zone for sizeable salties. Here, thrill-seekers frequent ‘Jumping Croc Tours’ and dine out on the local specialty of barramundi and hot chips. Resting on the Stuart Highway, 201 kilometres north-west of Katherine and 114 kilometres south of Darwin, the township’s population is aroun ... (read more)

Gillian Wills reviews 'The Australian Musical from the Beginning' by Peter Pinne and Peter Wyllie Johnston

March 2020, no. 419 24 February 2020
What is the musical’s appeal? Performing arts venues in Australia’s capital cities stage them year after year; a lucrative box office seems to be virtually guaranteed. The feel-good mix of song, melodrama, and vibrant dance – not forgetting the bonus of a happy ending – can lift the spirits and entertain the entire family. Recently, Chicago (Melbourne, Brisbane), West Side Story, and Billy ... (read more)

The Great Symphony: Simone Young Returns (QSO)

ABR Arts 23 July 2019
‘Violas should be seen and not heard,’ quipped Malcolm Sargent. Classical music lovers know very well that the viola is ripe for ridicule and has inspired countless jokes. In this concert, the viola was enjoyably celebrated as a worthy solo as well as accompanying instrument. Brett Dean’s Notturno Quieto, an Australian première, begins with a viola solo, as does Bartók’s Viola Concerto. ... (read more)

Heavenly (Queensland Symphony Orchestra)

ABR Arts 19 February 2019
In last year’s opening Maestro concert, the young Scandinavian conductor Daniel Blendulf made his début with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Alondra de la Parra, the orchestra’s chief conductor, was to have directed this year’s introductory concert, but as she was invited to replace the indisposed Franz Welser-Möst in Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) in Berlin, Daniel Blendulf was inv ... (read more)

Gillian Wills reviews 'A Coveted Possession: The rise and fall of the piano in Australia' by Michael Atherton

October 2018, no. 405 26 September 2018
In Australia’s golden age of piano production, between 1870 and 1930, the piano was, as Michael Atherton notes, ‘as much a coveted possession as a smartphone or an iPad is today’. The First Fleet imported an eclectic assortment of items, including dogs, rabbits, cattle, seedlings, and a ‘Frederick Beck’ piano. The latter belonged to the naval surgeon George Wogan, who played it on the lo ... (read more)

Peter Grimes (Brisbane Festival)

ABR Arts 24 September 2018
Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes – first performed in 1945 (Sadler’s Wells, London) – is an opera about an oddball misanthropic fisherman. On opening night, the audience were primed to engage with Britten’s anti-hero, never suspecting that a real-life hero would soon be needed. After an announcement before Act Two that Stuart Skelton, widely regarded as the world’s best in portraying th ... (read more)

Gillian Wills reviews 'Try Whistling This: Writings about Music' by Andrew Ford

September 2012, no. 344 28 August 2012
‘Rather like a consummate storyteller, Mozart knows how to keep us close to the edge of our seats,’ says Andrew Ford, composer, broadcaster, andauthor of this collection of illuminating essays on musical themes assembled from his talks, articles, and scripts for the radio series Music and Fashion. Like Mozart, two of Ford’s strengths are his compelling voice and his capacity to keep the read ... (read more)