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Lumen Winter 2009 Issue
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Bradman's musical legacy

When vocalist Greta Bradman was a young girl in Adelaide she went to her grandparents' house every day after school where she was surrounded by her famous grandfather's passion for music.

Cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman had been a boy soprano in his school choir, was a skilled pianist, and composed music.

At the Bradman Centenary Dinner in Sydney last year to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, Greta sang his composition Every day is a rainbow day for me, published in 1930.

"It was lovely being able to sing something Grandpa had composed," Greta said.

After school at "Grandpa and Lulla's house" in Kensington Park, her grandfather would play the piano while she danced around or sang. Or they'd listen together to his extensive collection of LPs, and they'd talk about the music and why they liked it.

"He'd sit me down and I'd have to listen properly to this music, and we'd talk about what I'd heard and what I was keen on," she said.

Greta's grandmother "Lulla" (Jessie Bradman) was also musical and, in a wonderful parallel with her granddaughter's career many years later, had been part of a vocal trio herself, The Menzies Sisters. Greta's father was a talented jazz musician and her maternal grandfather had been an opera singer.

"I was exposed to a lot of music," she said.

At the University of Adelaide, Greta combined her love of music with another continuing passion, the human mind, completing Bachelor degrees in Arts (Psychology major) and Music.

She topped her Honours year in Psychology and went on to a combined PhD and Master of Psychology (Clinical), which she's hoping to complete this year.

Her research is part of the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study and is looking at the cognitive and psychological predictors of health risk factors for chronic disease in men.

Greta wants to continue working in epidemiology after she's completed her current degrees. She also hopes to put her expertise to good use in charitable work for disadvantaged children.

With her grandfather's unsought public life as an example, Greta tried to keep a lid on her simultaneously developing musical career, aiming to concentrate instead on her psychology.

"But the more I tried to ignore my passion for music, the more irresistible it became. Clearly I've given up trying to fight it," she said.

Greta was a member of the award-winning Eve Vocal Trio and has been guest soloist and chorister with the Adelaide Chamber Singers. She has had guest soloist positions with ensembles including the Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus, Syntony, Graduate Singers and Cantamus and, in both 2007 and 2008, was awarded OsCart Awards for her solo recital work.

"All the while I was thinking I wanted to do just psychology, that I wouldn't be able to balance my two passions. But as time went on I found that I could."

Balance is something Greta is very good at. Married to fellow high-profile University of Adelaide graduate, visual effects specialist Didier Elzinga, the couple has a two-year-old son Jude, who is now her "first priority".

Jude has been the inspiration for her first solo album, a range of exquisite lullabies from around the world, being recorded for release next year.

Coming up this year is a range of solo voice recitals: with the Kegelstatt Ensemble and the Langbein String Quartet (14 June and 22 June respectively at Pilgrim Church); with pianist Leigh Harrold (28 June, St Peter's Cathedral and a different program on 27 July at Pilgrim Church); and, alongside tenor Robert McFarlane, performing the Australian premiere of Handel's cantata 'Cecilia, vogli un sguardo' under Graham Abbott's direction (3 October at St Peter's Cathedral). She is also undertaking studio recording for ABC Classic FM.

Greta's been described in the media as "one of Australia's finest young singers" and by Elder Conservatorium Head of Vocal Studies Guila Tiver as having "a beautiful voice of unusual range and expressive quality" and "a voracious appetite for exploring new, challenging or little-known vocal repertoire". There's no doubt Grandpa Bradman would have been very proud. ■


Greta Bradman

Greta Bradman

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