In a time where live performances are scarce, art is now consumed online in the virtual sphere. We are seeing artists exercise their creativity in a different way to continue to entertain audiences with their craft. In a unique online collaboration, Sydney Dance Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra have joined to bring you Cuatro, a four-episode series that tests the creativity and skills of dancers and musicians as they respond to each other in isolation. 

In episode one Sydney Symphony’s Diana Doherty plays Holliger’s Sonata for solo oboe, i. Präludium with dance by Sydney Dance Company’s Charmene Yap. In light of her involvement in this collaboration, we asked Diana about her creative process, her inspirations and career highlights: 

1.      How does being in isolation change what you create?  

Being so limited can actually be inspiring. It makes you look within and have more of a dialogue with yourself about what creating means to you and what you personally have to say. To an extent, this makes you more vulnerable but it’s also very rewarding. 

2.      What do you want audiences to take away from watching you?  

Like dance, playing the oboe is physical and expressive. Music can help us say things that we may not have words the for, and the arts can really help us process emotions that we can’t necessarily define or pin down.   

Supplied: Sydney Dance Company

3.      Who are your musical inspirations?  

I have many! But I guess, particularly in a certain stage of my development as a musician, Heinz Holliger was definitely a big influence — he’s a Swiss oboist, pianist, conductor, composer and environmentalist, and still playing and composing now into his 80’s! He wrote his solo sonata for oboe, the first movement of which I played for Cuatro, when he was still in his teens, which I find completely mind-blowing.     

4.      How long have you been performing and what has been a highlight in your career?  

I’ve been performing in some form probably since I was eight years old on the violin, and then a bit later on piano and oboe. Professionally though, I’ve been performing as an oboist from my late teens as a freelancer and then landed my first full-time position in an orchestra was when I was 23. There have been many highlights, particularly in my role with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, but for me personally a standout was also Ukaria24 in 2019, a chamber music mini-festival when I was allowed to program whatever I wanted to play and listen to for a whole weekend — that was a real buzz!  

5.      What are your tips to staying creative during this time?  

Take advantage of this rare opportunity to allow yourself space to think and experiment with things you have always wanted to do but haven’t had the time or the brain-space to follow up. Giving ourselves permission to slow down, reflect, question and daydream can provide all kinds of inspiration and growth. 

Find episode 1-4 of Cuatro here 

Visit Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Dance Company to find out what else is on and upcoming.