I thought I’d never make it – Warwick Adeney, Queensland Symphony Orchestra

One of Australia’s most prized violinists

When you are born into an entire family of fiddle players, there’s a good chance you might pick up the instrument yourself. Whether or not you make an illustrious career of playing the instrument, however, is another matter.

Warwick Adeney, lightningfingered violinist and concertmaster for Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO), first picked up the bow at age five. While he admits that part of the reason he practised so often was the two-cent incentive his parents offered him per practice session, fortunately he also possessed both the talent and the drive to carry him to the pinnacle of long-term success.

“My favourite violinist was Yehudi Menuhin and we had some records of him,” Adeney recalls. “I imagined trying to play like him and I remember thinking that I could never sound that good. I never thought I’d make it as a violinist.”

Fate was to prove him wrong, as Adeney joined the Queensland Theatre Orchestra (subsequently Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra) in 1985, becoming leader in 1989 until it merged with Queensland Symphony Orchestra in 2001.

While many people might recognise the role of concertmaster as being that of an orchestra’s lead violinist, few actually understand the commitment that’s also required behind the scenes.

“I’m the lead violinist and that makes me closest to the conductor and also the musical representative for the orchestra,” Adeney explains of his role. “I chair meetings and guide discussions and if there’s something to be said to, or negotiated with, the conductor, I’m the one to do it. But while it’s all very good to do all those things, ultimately you’re not doing your job if you’re not playing well, so my main goal is to practise and stay in shape to play well.”

That practice includes hours upon hours doing finger exercises to make sure his hands are as nimble as possible, as well as studying the intricacies of each piece of music so that he knows it thoroughly enough to feel comfortable conveying it through his own artistry. Even after decades as a revered musician, Adeney’s commitment to constant improvement is as strong as it’s ever been. Of the thousands of performances he's participated in over the years – a large portion of which have taken place on or below the QPAC stage – Adeney can single out his ‘watershed’ performance.

It was when the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra was first beginning to have its own series in the Concert Hall, and Sir Neville Marriner – at the time the biggest recording artist in classical music – came out to play.

“He did a concert with The Lark Ascending as the piece, which has also become a bit of a specialty for me. I played it with him and my heart was in my mouth the whole time! But it went well and became a really self-affirming moment for me in recognising my own credibility.”

Despite his many formidable achievements and becoming one of Australia’s most prized violinists, the words ‘success’ and ‘ambition’ rarely pass through Adeney’s mind.

“Success for me is more about integrity and working out a conscientious way of doing something,” he says humbly. “I just try to do well with what’s in front of me.”

WORDS Mikki Brammer, Image courtesy of Queensland Symphony Orchestra

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