Passionate, ambitious and downright gifted, local musician Greta Kelly is devoted to changing people’s lives through music.
At age three, Greta was handed a violin by her melodic grandfather, and began to feel the alluring pulse of the stringed instrument. “He held the violin and made the notes with his fingers while I moved the bow,” Greta reminisced. Putting the violin back in its case temporarily at age 16, discovering world music ignited her passion once again. “It was a revelation. I thought there was only classical and jazz music, and then I discovered there were all other kinds of amazing music, and it’s such a good way to meet people.”
Violin aside, Greta also plays the Persian spike-fiddle shah kaeman. After studying a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Queensland, she lived in Prague for four years where she developed a taste for Eastern European folk music. Greta’s focus on the East has taken her to different countries, including Greece, Iran and Turkey, where she discovered new music.
Greta is a member of Australian string ensemble DeepBlue, which prides itself on nonconformity. There is no conductor or even music stand taking the stage alongside them. Musicians of DeepBlue instead interact directly with audiences, connecting with them as they play, talking to them during songs, and immersing them in the music. “We also dance and do circus tricks. I can hula hoop and play the violin, and we have stilt-walking tellers and the violinist. We also inject a lot of drama, dance and choreography into the shows to really tell a story.”
Alongside her DeepBlue virtuosos, Greta recently entertained crowds with Song to the Earth as part of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games arts and culture program, and at South Bank’s new venue, Flowstate. “In Song to the Earth we totally break down the barriers between the audience and musicians. We perform outdoors surrounded by light sculptures, and the audience walk among us and choose how they want to experience the music.”
A philanthropist, Greta regularly volunteers her time to teach migrants and refugees, alleviating their pain through music. “When they are playing music, they are really absorbed in what they’re doing. It is a form of meditation. It takes them away from the everyday stresses of life, of getting a job and how much they miss their families.”
The violinist’s passion for world music encourages her students to play melodies from their home countries, encouraging them to maintain their culture to counteract feelings of unacceptance in Australia. “I think it is really important that refugees and migrants don’t feel they have to assimilate, and that their culture and differences are valued and really enjoyed.”
Between hula hooping while playing in chorus, and heartening new members of the community to sing a new tune, Greta certainly lives a life ingrained in harmonies.
Readers also enjoyed this story about local director Danielle Hastie.