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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Lotte’s Gift

Karin Schaupp with david williamson

Venue: Assembly


Low Down

 A tale across four generations of women musicians, starting out in Germany, ending up in Australia. Grandmother Lotte’s gift to her granddaughter was ostensibly a classical guitar.  Her granddaughter has gone on to become one of the most accomplished Australian classical guitarists, who has performed on major stages around the world.

Its a  moving tale of love and loneliness, of war and waste, of dreams realised and dreams dashed or abandoned. The music is beautiful. But somehow it feels rather cold. We can listen to the story, but somehow the way it is written requires the audience to stand off from afar and admire and applaud. But not to look too closely.


Karin Schaupp is an outstanding classical guitarist. Coming from a very musical, if apparently dysfunctional  family setting across generations, Karin is presented with a classical guitar by her grandmother. Thats where it all begins. Thats the gift: the guitar, the pedigree, the love of classical music, and of course, her own daughter, Karin’s mother, wholly committed to her daughter’s development.

The piece is built around the memories of the grandmother who following some persuading, opens up with the story of her life. And segued in between the stories told is the music. A sort of medley of family classic hits.

It is very beautifully done. But it left me feeling I had been asked to admire and applaud, but not to look too closely. The story felt sanitised. Lots of unasked let alone unanswered questions. 

The piece was the grandmother’s story. except it wasn’t.  Did she really finally reject the love of her life to avoid losing her widow’s pension? Did the family stand by and watch it happen? Why? 

And why does classical music have to be presented in a popular culture-free world. There was an explosion of interest in the guitar in the period being discussed. But there is no mention of it. 

And that feels like the world has somehow passed them by. 

Lotte’s gift has been put together by people who are very experienced in the business. It is very well presented indeed. A classic, classical set. Simple, clean lines.

Karin Schaupp slips seamlessly between her own, and her grandmother’s voices.

It feels and is very professional. It was much appreciated by the smallish audience. But for me it was all a bit over-produced, a script a little too sentimental, a story a little over-managed.

This is okay as far as it goes. But if it wasn’t for the guitar playing, I doubt this story would be told. And yet there is enough to suggest that there is a story somewhere waiting to be told. Maybe next time.


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