ANU music alumnus relives playing for the Royals

16 May 2014

An ANU School of Music alumnus says playing for the young Royals, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, at a Government House reception was very exciting and a recent highlight of his professional life.

Andrew Rumsey received the call a few weeks before the big visit, but was told to keep it confidential because of the media hype and security surrounding the Royal couple’s visit to Australia.

Rumsey, who completed his Bachelor of Music degree with First Class Honours in 2011 and went on to complete his Masters of Music with Distinction, in 2013, has been providing background music for functions at Government House for the past few years. But he says this time it was extra special.

“It didn’t really sink in, initially, because they asked if I’d be able to play for a reception and I thought ‘yeah I’m pretty sure that would be alright’,” Rumsey says.

“I’d just finished teaching so I was in the car about to leave, when I got the call. And then when I hung up I thought ‘wow, this will be fantastic’.”

There were about 100 guests at the Government House reception before ANZAC Day, including some well-known celebrities such as INXS band member Kirk Pengilly, football superstar Harry Kewell and singer Guy Sebastian.

Looking back, Rumsey says despite feeling a little pressure playing in front of a group of high-profile guests, including the Royals, recitals and concerts are actually more stressful.

“In a recital, everybody is listening to every note, every phrase and not worried about royalty walking through the room, so it’s a different kind of event,” he says.

The 26-year-old says he played for about an hour and 45 minutes, although Prince William and Kate weren’t present the entire time.

“Because I was there to do a job, there wasn’t much opportunity to interact with the royal couple. There was room for 100 guests and they were only there for a portion of the reception. But from all accounts I heard they had a genuine interaction with people,” he said.

Rumsey says one of his personal highlights was seeing Guy Sebastian in the crowd of guests.

“I thought ‘how am I going to get his attention?’ In my repertoire I had his song Battle Scars. So I started playing that and after a few bars he stuck his head out from behind the crowd and gave me the thumbs up,” he says.

“So that was kind of cool because I had been yet to perform a piece with the composer in the room before. So that was a nice experience.”

Andrew’s next concert (minus the royalty) will be on Saturday 7 June at the Wesley Centre in Forrest, from 7.30pm. Rumsey will be performing with friends with a special guest appearance from Canberra Soprano Louise Page. For more information on Andrew Rumsey, check out his website.