Dawn Plasto interviews sound technician Greg Ghavalas

Quietly setting up ‘mikes’ around the choir and orchestra or sitting at the console at the anteroom in the Great Hall is our technician Greg Ghavalas.  Greg has been making our recordings for some years many of them first class. Dawn asks Greg some pointed questions to discover what makes him ‘tick’.

Q. Where were you born and did you come from a musical family?

A. I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The family was not musical as such, but there was always music around. Mostly off gramophone records.

Q. Where were you educated?

A. I went to Florida Park High School and returned there to teach after I completed my Teaching Diploma with the Transvaal Education Department.  I have some university education, specialising in maths, applied maths and physics.  These are the subjects I taught to the upper level students.

Q. What career path did you follow?

A: I taught for two years, but the salary was so dismally low that I knew I would have to find a better paid vocation, if I was to ever marry and support a family.  These were the days at the dawn of commercial computing and this is the field that I entered.  I spent the next 40 years associated with computers and computer projects.

It was this skill that allowed us to emigrate to Australia in 1985 where I worked for a number of banks project managing major projects.

Q. You are married to Godelieve, a very talented organist. Where did you meet?

A. I used to be a keyboard player (read pianist in those days) in a rock and roll band.  Godelieve’s brother played the trumpet in the band.  I happened to mention to him one day that I was very fond of classical organ music.  He told me his sister was an organist – why don’t I come and meet her the next Sunday.  Four months later we were married.  We celebrated our 40th anniversary in February this year.

Q. Are you fond of music and if so who is your favourite composer?

A. I have always been associated with music in some form or other.  As a kid, I mostly liked the music of the 1930’s to 50’s.  After I met Godelieve, she educated me in the classics.  If I might be allowed to pick two of my favourites, they would be J.S Bach and Mozart (and Haydn).  My favourite genre is baroque.

Q. Recording Christopher Bowen’s An Australian War Requiem in the Town Hall in 2016 must have been a challenge. Perhaps you might like to tell us about that?

A. Although I spent sleepless nights worrying about this recording, it actually worked out to be less traumatic than I thought it was going to be.  The Town Hall technical staff were amazingly helpful.  I have recorded at other public venues where it seems that the staff are there to make your life difficult – not so at the Town Hall.  Everything was easy, everything was possible.  I do remember moments during the performance, sitting downstairs listening where I had tears in my eyes, I found the music so moving. I think Christopher has a wonderful creation there.

Q. Considering the many recordings you have made which has given you the most satisfaction?

A. I am very fond of string quartets and the opportunity to record a number of visiting overseas quartets at The City Recital Hall on behalf of Fine Music FM has certainly been the highlight of my recording efforts.  Notwithstanding this, although the Australian War Requiem had its challenges, I regard it as one of the best recordings I have made, ably assisted by Doug and my son and daughter  – the crew that are always there to help even though my son walked the City to Surf that same day after helping with the setup.

Q. When not recording what do you do for relaxation?

A. Recording is my relaxation.  It’s what I used to do to get away from complex computer projects.  Nowadays though, as I have retired from the workforce, it is my job.  So, apart from music, I love to read and have started growing vegetables.

Q. Can you tell us about your children? I understand one is a talented musician.

A. We have a son, Gethryn, and a daughter, Tamaryn.  Tamaryn is a flute player.  When we spent two years living in England, she was lucky enough to be taught by the first flautist of the London Philharmonic.  It was a wonderful experience for all of us and the benefits continue to this day.  Gethryn followed in his father’s footsteps and is involved in computer projects.  He has an Applied Statistics Masters Degree – I could never understand the stuff.

Q. Are you fond of reading if so what are you reading now?

A. Very fond of reading.  My reading is very catholic.  I read most things and almost exclusively fiction.  I have just finished Grahame Greene’s Stamboul Train.  I like medical thrillers and Michael Palmer is a favourite.  Christopher Reich is also on my popularity list.

Q. What was your connection with Grads. Did you find us or did we find you?

A. I assisted someone who recorded your concerts previously.  John Bowan subsequently got in touch with me and asked me if I could record their next concert.  I think he took a bit of a chance….  He has got in touch with me every year ever since.

 

Dawn Plasto

 

 

 

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