Music is A FAMILY AFFAIR
It’s difficult not to share the enthusiasm of the combined Ziegler and Emery families as they speak about their passion and love for music.
Individually, they are all high-profile musical professionals - but despite their working commitments, they relish the opportunity to unite their musical talents in family concerts and chamber ensembles.
For this lower North Shore family that now comprises three talented generations, music runs strongly in their genes and they are widely recognised locally, nationally and internationally for their musical expertise.
Sisters Fiona and Leonie Ziegler began their violin tuition at the age of five alongside their talented mother, Eva Kelly. Ms Kelly had a long and distinguiseer musical career and was one of Sydney's most respected violinists, having joined the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) in 1946 as the youngest member at that time. In 1956, she replaced Belgian violinist Eugene Prokop at the Sydney Conservatorium where she was to lecture in violin for the next 30 years.
Their stellar careers have blossomed over time, with both sisters playing with the SSO since 1984 and Fiona becoming SSO assistant concertmaster in 1995.
Leonie's husband Pierre Emery has played cello with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra for the past 28 years, and their children, Jacques and Douglas Emery, are both extremely talented musicians. Douglas plays the cello and Jacques plays double bass and percussion.
“We have always been a close family," Fiona smiles. "It really is a very special relationship and all these family connections go back a long way. It's just a great joy to be able to play together, with our traditional Christmas concert being performed by the family each year. The sisters also collaborate on many other projects, including the Chanterelle String Quartet with fellow SSO musicians Kristy Conrau and Jane Hazelwood.
"We enjoy playing in the small ensembles like the Chanterelle String Quartet with just the four musicians," Leonie says. "It enables us to make our own artistic decisions - performing the whole concert ourselves, which can be enriching in so many ways."
Family patriarch Alan Ziegler has had a formidable career in music management and marketing and has never really retired.
He joined the ABC in 1950 and has had many varying portfolios and worked for a variety of organisations, including devising, programming and producing the highly-successful Sydney Symphony Orchestra's family concerts.
Leonie says it is still "surprisingly rare" to all be able to play together and she loves the opportunity to be in concert with sons Jacques and Douglas.
Leonie leaves it to Aunty Fiona to articulate just how talented her sons are. –“Genius' is not too strong a word for them," Fiona laughs.
"A lot of work goes into putting a concert together. The music we choose can be quite different but it's always very enriching and we love being together."