Nat Bartsch is a twice ARIA-nominated Australian pianist and composer who creates lyrical, ethereal work that explores the space between neoclassical, chamber music and jazz genres. Her sound is influenced by Melbourne piano luminaries Luke Howard and Andrea Keller, studies with ECM pianists Tord Gustavsen and Nik Bärtsch, and the indie heroes of her upbringing: Sufjan Stevens, Elbow and Radiohead. She has released seven recordings of original music, including for ABC Classic and ABC Jazz, and toured domestically and internationally, collaborating along the way with some of Melbourne’s finest classical and jazz musicians.
Recognition of Nat’s talent and promise is evident through awards such as the 2021 Merlyn Myer Commission, 2020 Catherine Mary Sullivan scholarship, 2020 Classical:NEXT Artistic Associate fellowship, 2019 Johnny Dennis Music Award, 2012 Will Poskitt Piano Scholarship, 2010 Melbourne Prize for Music Development Award and the 2007 Lionel Gell Travelling Fellowship. In addition to being the first female instrumental artist to be nominated for both ‘Best Classical’ and ‘Best Jazz’ album categories in Australia’s ARIAs, Nat was also a finalist for a Bell Award for ‘Best Jazz Album’ (Forever More), ‘Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year’ and for a 2021 Arts Access Amplify Award.
Nat’s chamber music commissions include for Inventi Ensemble, Plexus Collective, Solstice Trio, The Muses Trio, and guitarist Matt Withers and pianist Sally Whitwell. She is currently studying a Masters of Composition at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music with Stuart Greenbaum. With her first tertiary music studies in jazz, Nat holds an Honours degree in music improvisation from the Victorian College of the Arts, and was bandleader of her own jazz piano trio for many years. This breadth of experience enables Nat to sit comfortably between genres, challenging assumptions of what a ‘classical’ or ‘jazz’ artist should be.
Since 2018, Nat has become most well known for her lullabies, which, during early motherhood, saw her translate her gentle aesthetic into music with purpose. After interviewing music therapists, she composed a series of pieces designed to soothe babies to sleep, and still be meaningfully enjoyable for adults, incorporating recommended parameters such as tempos similar to a mother’s heartbeat, gentle sounds, simple melodies and harmonies, ostinatos and repetition. The resulting album, Forever, and No Time At All (produced by composer and pianist Luke Howard) was released in 2018 on ABC Classic to an overwhelmingly warm reception from many families but also people from all walks of life, from the birthing suite to living with mental illness, and grief.
In 2020, Nat created a jazz sextet re-interpretation of the lullaby album, called Forever More (ABC Jazz), which was nominated for an ARIA for ‘Best Jazz Album’. This was followed in 2021 with her critically acclaimed album Hope (ABC Classic), for piano, string quartet and electronics, co-produced again by Howard and earning a 2021 ARIA nomination for ‘Best Classical Album’.
Nat has worked as keyboardist/vocalist in many contemporary genres, with artists including Circus Oz, the Teeny Tiny Stevies, PlaySchool Live, Whitaker, Thando, Timothy Coghill, Sweet Jean, Matt Corby, and Ella Thompson. With an increasing performance focus on her own music, recent and upcoming performing engagements include the critically acclaimed world premiere of ‘The Glasshouse’ with the Inventi Ensemble at Melbourne Recital Centre, inspired by portraits of photographer Julia Margaret Cameron; an east coast tour of Forever More, with a tour to Alice Springs in 2022; ‘Peaceful Piano’ concerts and touring for Regional Arts Victoria with composer/pianist Luke Howard; and performances of Hope with string quartet, and Hope Renewed with jazz quartet.
In addition to her composition and performances, Nat has undertaken research exploring the two-way link between bipolar disorder and creativity, which has been presented at a number of conferences. A mental health advocate, with a specific interest in promoting the health and wellbeing of performing artists, Nat is proudly neurodivergent, and contributed a chapter to We’ve Got This: the first major anthology by parents living with a disability, edited by Eliza Hall, foreword by Jamila Rizvi (Black Inc books).
Nat Bartsch is endorsed by Yamaha Pianos.