mdw student Anna Buchegger took advantage of the COVID standstill to participate in the ORF casting show Starmania. And even after winning it with her own song Ease, the young singer remained true to her ideals: she immediately founded her own label and both produced and released her winning song on her own.

“So now I’ve got a trophy, and I’m star of the year. But it’s music that won!” These were the words with which Anna Buchegger thanked her numerous fans via Instagram following her victory on 7 May. The idea to participate in Starmania, a casting show put out by Austria’s national broadcaster ORF, didn’t originally come from her. “Honestly, I have to say that I’d probably never have even considered participating in Starmania if the pandemic hadn’t happened. What’s interesting, though, is that it was the ORF that approached me—they more or less recruited me.” Friends, colleagues, and teachers then encouraged her to take part and supported her from the very beginning. “My main subject teacher, the Department of Popular Music’s Patricia Simpson, provided me with a huge amount of support. I once called her up at midnight out of pure despair because I couldn’t find my first note. She comforted me, then—and otherwise, too, she always picked up whenever I called her.”

I love being involved with music 24/7.

Anna Buchegger im neuen Future Art Lab der mdw © Stephan Polzer Anna Buchegger at the mdw’s newly opened Future Art Lab © Stephan Polzer

Buchegger doesn’t regret having participated in Starmania for a single second. “I learned a whole lot about myself and had a really interesting time.” She’s especially happy about the friendships that arose and the numerous great memories, as well as about the insights into show business and difficult moments from which she was able to learn.

One thing that this exceptional artist initially had to get used to was singing to an empty hall, but she soon adapted and was even able to get something positive out of it: “When you’re forced to perform without an audience, you end up being able to concentrate way better and don’t get distracted. And you also hear lots of things with a great deal more precision.”

When her win was announced, she was able to briefly forget COVID and be buoyed up by the enthusiasm of her friends—even giving competitor Fred Owusu a hug. “In that situation, I wouldn’t have been able to show the sheer joy I was feeling in any other way—because we all got along so well and it wasn’t about who won.” And indeed, it was also a moment full of hope that we will at some point be able to leave the past one-and-a-half years behind and regain some sorely missed closeness. “I do think that at some point, that will be possible once more. We all have an urge to be close, and I have the feeling that all anyone’s doing anymore is just waiting to be able to embrace each other again.”

The greatest thing about Starmania was the time I was able to spend together with other artists.

Back when COVID-19 began spreading in Europe, the Salzburg native hadn’t yet been able to comprehend the threat. “I can remember sitting in the Mensa together with fellow students, and how we didn’t yet entirely believe what was happening around us.” But soon, the situation became serious—with cultural institutions and the mdw, as well, being forced to close due to the pandemic. “I didn’t earn anything for an entire year and couldn’t give any concerts. That was very difficult for the entire arts and cultural scene, and I imagine for many other areas, too.”

Today, she’s emerging from the crisis with renewed strength. Following her victory on Starmania, this exceptional singer founded her own label—producing and releasing her song Ease without any support from big-name major labels. “I did lots of talking with well-known publishers like Sony Music or Warner Music Group as well as with smaller labels. But in these get-to-know-you sessions, the talk always eventually turned to the question of exactly what the artist’s vision is. And it’s at that point that I realised how I first need to have my own clear idea of how I want to sound and what I’d like to accomplish with my music. So I ultimately decided to set out on this journey alone.”

Doing elementary music education work recharges my batteries and is a great way to compensate.

Anna Buchegger studiert Instrumental- und Gesangspädagogik am Institut für Popularmusik der mdw. Schwerpunktmäßig beschäftigt sie sich zudem mit dem Bereich der Elementaren Musikpädagogik. © Stephan Polzer Anna Buchegger studies Music Education for Voice and Instruments at the mdw’s Department of Popular Music. She also pursues an emphasis in Elementary Music Education. © Stephan Polzer

Buchegger’s personal surroundings during her studies at the mdw and her many years of artistic work in numerous bands helped her, here: she now has a whole network of useful contacts in the music business. “Many of my mdw colleagues are already making their own music, and you can pick up quite a lot from that. I learned what steps are necessary to get to the point of releasing something in the first place … and how you manage to get your own music onto the various platforms.”

This enthusiastic artist has lots of plans for the future—and she absolutely does want to concentrate on her own music. She’s also looking forward to projects together with colleagues as part of her studies in Music Education for Voice and Instruments. “This kind of work—like what we did in this past summer’s week-long project sounds of nature unlimited for isaOutreach—does me good. In educational work, I not only learn things for myself but can also pass something on. And that’s very meaningful.”

I’ve got a huge backpack of great memories—and no one can take those away from me.


Anna Buchegger as a guest on the mdw podcast (in German):


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