Music Q&A: Pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins

Fiona Joy Hawkins, left, and Trysette, pianists on their “Two Grand I’m Yours” tour, will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Recital Hall in the Moss Performing Arts Center at Colorado Mesa University. The concert is hosted by the Pro Bono Project of Mesa County.

Australian pianists Fiona Joy Hawkins and Trysette will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Recital Hall in Moss Performing Arts Center at Colorado Mesa University.

Although classically-trained, both Fiona Joy and Trysette play a variety of genres, including pop, jazz and folk.

The Pro Bono Project of Mesa County, a nonprofit legal referral agency that coordinates free or low-cost legal services for locals in need, is bringing the international artists to CMU.

Tickets for the fund-raising show cost $15 for adults and $12 for students and are available at the Pro Bono office, 619 Main St., or at the door to the concert.

Local musician Paul Jensen will open the show.

In a recent phone interview, Hawkins talked about her musical background, her excitement about playing in Colorado and how she and Trysette met.

Melinda Mawdsley: How did you get linked up with the Pro Bono Project and Grand Junction?

Fiona Joy Hawkins: My producer is Will Ackerman, the founder of Windham Hill Records. I met (Grand Junction artist) Paul Jensen, who is opening for us, who had just finished recording an album with Will. I adore Paul’s music. I went to Grand Junction to meet Paul and (Barbara Butler), who is the organizer for this. From there, we all became really good friends. I’ve been (to Grand Junction) now maybe three or four times.

Mawdsley: Tell me a little bit about yourself as a musician.

Hawkins: I’m from Australia. I started playing piano when I was 8 years old. My grandmother moved in — my mom had me when she was 17 — and brought a 100-year-old piano with her that I instantly fell in love with. I realized early on what I was most interested in was writing music. I write New Age music with a Celtic flair.

Mawdsley: Where does the flair for Celtic music come from?

Hawkins: You probably know Australia history. All of my ancestors are from Ireland and Scotland even though I’ve never been ... so I have a fascination with Gaelic and Celtic flavors.

To tell you a little bit about my album, “600 Years in a Moment,” I took a handmade, modern Australian piano and recorded it with ancient instruments from around the world. That’s the meaning behind the album. That’s what I’m playing and promoting on this tour. The album came out in June, so it’s pretty exciting. (The album was No. 1 on the Top 100 world New Age radio charts in August as compiled by Zone Music Reporter, or ZMR.)

Mawdsley: How did you meet Trysette?

Hawkins: She actually emailed me because we both joined a site called HouseConcertsAustralia and said she was a piano artist too and wanted to go on tour but didn’t want to go by herself because it’s lonely on the road. (She asked Hawkins to join her on tour.) That email just landed in my inbox and I answered back, “Yes. Love to.” We were halfway through organizing it before we even met for the first time. The first time I met her was the poster shoot for the first tour. Now, we are like sisters. This is our second U.S. tour.

Mawdsley: What’s Trysette’s style like?

Hawkins: The difference between us is I’m Celtic New Age. Trysette is folk, pop singer/songwriter in the style of Norah Jones and Adele, but we are both piano-based artists. The reason the tour is called “Two Grand I’m Yours” is because there’s two of us and we’re piano snobs. We’re from New South Wales, Australia. We’re both classically trained then went in completely different directions, yet our audiences connect with both of us. We cover everything, really. It just works, plus we have such a good working relationship. We’re like sisters.

Fiona Joy Hawkins and Trysette will host a “meet and greet” for youth and young adult piano players at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Recital Hall.

Hawkins said she and Trysette will use the time to talk to the young pianists about their aspirations and experiences to try to inspire and encourage them to continue playing. Call 424-5748 or 314-0186 for information.


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