With Shen Yun Since: 2012
Alistair Crawford has performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic, and the Melbourne Opera Orchestra, among others. He earned a bachelor of music with honors at the University of Melbourne and a graduate diploma of professional music practice at the University of Tasmania. When studying at the University of Melbourne, he received the Lady Turner Award for the most promising musician, and pursued later studies at the Australian National Academy of Music.
Open on my playlist right now: Hungarian Rhapsody.
Wanted to be a professional musician at age: 18
Love most about music: It’s a way that you can really express yourself from within, and convey it to anyone from any culture of the world.
First heard of Shen Yun: In 2012, when I received a forwarded email about orchestra auditions.
Which Shen Yun dance piece never fails to move you? The Ending piece always feels very dramatic. Especially the part near the end when the Buddha comes down.
What is your favorite Shen Yun composition? Probably the story of Aobai and Kangxi (Defending the Throne, 2016).
Favorite tuning/metronome device: Seiko metronome and Korg tuner.
Favorite instrument case brand: Marcus Bonna.
Tips for keeping your instrument in shape in drastically different weather: Fortunately, brass instruments aren’t as affected by weather conditions as some other instruments are. But allowing for more time to warm up the instrument when it’s colder is important.
Sheet music—bring hard copies or electronic? Electronic for routines and technical exercises. Hard copies for repertoire and etudes.
Regular warm-up routine: Breathing exercises, mouthpiece buzzing, long tones, low register, slow and fast slurs, slur/articulation patterns, articulation and scales.
Pre-show boost: Usually I do a few relaxed repeated note patterns with trumpet player Eric Robins.
Intermission activity: I always make sure that I have enough water for the second half. Playing a brass instrument is a very physical activity! I wait until after the show for the snacks.
Post-show wind-down: Warm down for about five minutes with low register to relax the embouchure muscles.
Activity between shows on two-show days? Walk around outside a little to stay mentally fresh.
During 100+ shows a season, how do you maintain freshness and high standard? I try to keep a consistent routine to keep everything in order and I aim for optimum economy, efficiency, and ease when I play.
Coping mechanism for long bus rides: Standing up for a while when possible makes a big difference. On one particularly long ride back from Florida, I couldn’t fall asleep even though I really wanted to. Fortunately, I was able to borrow a roll-up sleeping mat, which had been stashed in the overhead compartment. I unrolled it in the aisle while most others were asleep, and it pretty much saved me on that occasion!
Tips for living out of a suitcase: He who travels light travels fast! Also, LL Bean’s double packing cubes are the way to go.
Favorite tour city: Tokyo.
Favorite theater to perform in: Lincoln Center in New York. When Shen Yun performs there it’s usually for between one and two weeks, which is easier than traveling and switching theaters every few days. It’s great to perform in New York because it’s such a multicultural city. The fact that it’s so close to where we’re based is an added bonus.
What inspires you? The importance of what we’re doing along with the personal satisfaction that comes with refining the playing more and more.
What do you find most meaningful about performing with Shen Yun? To spread something so unique and significant to people of so many ethnicities in so many places around the world and to witness their satisfaction upon seeing the show is what I would say is most rewarding.
How is Shen Yun different from other companies? We probably spend more time together as a group than any other performing arts company in the world. We are literally together most of the time all year round. The diversity of the group is also something that is different from most companies.
What has Shen Yun added to your life? On a fundamental level it has added a deeper meaning to my life.
Your most prominent strength: I never give up—even when things become very challenging.