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Meet Nat Bartsch: MRC’s 2024 artist-in-residence

Meet Nat Bartsch: MRC’s 2024 artist-in-residence

Nat Bartsch, Melbourne Recital Centre’s (MRC) 2024 artist-in-residence, sat down with Southbank News to share her reflections on the journey thus far and her plans for the year ahead.

A pianist, composer, owner of her own record label, Amica Records, and “proudly neurodivergent”, Ms Bartsch has recorded eight studios albums and toured domestically and internationally, and has received two ARIA nominations for her albums Forever More and Hope.

Weaving through jazz and neoclassical landscapes, her work is meditative, lyrical, and enjoyed by people from “all walks of life”.

“I came from a family that really valued music. People in my family were musicians themselves, so I started learning piano at a really young age,” Ms Bartsch said.

 

It took me a long time to get to a place where I realised I wanted to try and do music as a career, but I slowly found my way in terms of becoming a solo artist.

 

The invitation to join MRC as their artist-in-residence marked a pivotal moment for Ms Bartsch, arriving during a period of personal and professional pressure.

“When I got the email, I just cried. There’s no formal application process for the residency, they just select someone each year, so I didn’t see it coming at all,” she told Southbank News.

“The invitation came at a time where I was completely overwhelmed with the business of self-managing my solo career and was just kind of collapsing under the collective weight of it all. It felt like all that hard work was appreciated and acknowledged, and that my commitment to music had been noticed by someone else – it was like this reassurance that I was on a good path.”

During the first half of her residency, Ms Bartsch is gearing up for the release of her new single, Hope (for orchestra), on March 8, followed by a performance with her jazz quartet on May 17 of her piece Busy/Quiet.

 

 

The performance will form part MRC’s broader Intimate Salon Experiences program, which Ms Bartsch hopes will “reach the neurodivergent community in a meaningful way”.

“I found out that I was autistic and ADHD after I became a mother, it was a complete perspective shift and my whole family environment changed,” Ms Bartsch said.

“I want to create a really neuro-affirming narrative for people like me who might have just been diagnosed and maybe don’t feel so much yet that it’s a superpower like I do.”

“It certainly suits a neurodivergent brain to be a professional musician – there are a lot of skills that you need and a lot of commitment and passion that neurodivergent people often have. But in saying that, there are some real challenges working in the industry for neurodivergent folks.”

Ms Bartsch says that “things like networking and going to other people’s gigs and industry events is really difficult”, which she aims to address through a series of artist meet-ups for the neurodivergent community.

“I’m basically trying to design a social event for people that kind of hate social events,” she said.

“Even if you don’t end up coming, just the knowledge that there is this community and this space where you’re welcome is really valuable.”

Describing Southbank as her “creative heartland”, Ms Bartsch is looking forward spending the year in a place where “the arts is really valued”.

“In this area of Southbank, you feel really accepted and embraced for who you are, which is really beautiful,” she said. “It’s a sense of community that I’ve only experienced in Southbank and nowhere else – it’s amazing.” •

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