Vivaldi, 4mbs Festival of Classics, May 25

As they say, it never rains but it pours! May is turning into a busy month for baroque musicians in Brissie. This time, violinist Wayne Brennan will perform the Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Badinerie Players in an all-Vivaldi programme, 2.30 pm on Sunday 25 May. For further details and bookings see the 4mbs website.

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CPE Bach anniversary

Composer anniversaries are often a useful prompt to remember a particular composer, including those who may have been overshadowed by their better known contemporaries, or simply forgotten. One of the composers whose 300th anniversary of birth is celebrated this year is CPE Bach (1714-1788), son of JS Bach. Coming up soon in Brisbane is a mini-festival of his works, directed by Dr Michael O’Loghlin. The programs include a harpsichord concerto, choral works, and chamber music by some of CPE Bach’s contemporaries. It may be old music, but new repertoire for most audience members. Details are in the flyer below, or you can visit the 4mbs website for bookings.flyerLater in the year there will be more concerts in Brisbane featuring CPE Bach’s music, presented by Early Music Queensland in October, and the Camerata of St Johns in December. Harpsichordist Peter Hagen is featuring works by CPE Bach in several concerts in his Broadford Salon series in Victoria throughout the year, including one that I’ll be joining him for in November.

Hopefully, after audiences and performers have rediscovered the beauty and skill of CPE Bach’s compositions, more of his music will stay in the repertoire, and not be left to gather dust for another 100 years!

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Gold Coast Renaissance Fair

Along with fellow members of the Early Music Society of Queensland, this year I have been exploring the sound of renaissance capped reed instruments. A collection of these instruments – crumhorns, cornemuses and a few others – had sat unused in a cupboard for many years. After having received some expert advice on getting the instruments into working order, the project was kick-started by a “Renaissance Rediscovery Day” in February, and followed up by a short presentation for the Double Reed society’s “Big Day Out”.

crumhorns, cornemuses, and hygienic wipes for the tryout day!

Added to a consort of recorders, lute, violin, and cello, these “buzzie” instruments certainly pack a punch!

A group comprising several EMSQ members will be performing on some of these instruments at the first annual Gold Coast Renaissance Faire on 3-4 May. Below are a few more details of what can be expected on the day:

Return to the Golden Age of Shakespeare, swashbuckling, romance and adventure!  We will join other costumed performers to entertain you all day with theatre, music, dance and games.  For less than a price of a movie ticket you can enjoy Shakespeare’s comedies, be dazzled by our beautiful dances, challenge a brave swordsman, step to a merry Irish jig, join costumed parades, play a game of skill and win a prize from the Queen!  So come to the Faire, eat, drink and be merry! Check out the Faire website and share the link.Gold Coast Renaissance Faire Flyer

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Here we go!

Well, I can barely believe that it’s already week 5 of term 1, so high time for a quick update!

This year I’m continuing to teach strings part time in the Instrumental Music program run by Education Queensland. I have around 60 students in total, fitted into a day and a half at two schools, aged from about 8 to 16, and from a wide range of backgrounds. Each day starts early with string orchestra before school, followed by group lessons. So far a lot of time has been spent sorting out instruments and timetables, and getting into the all-important routines. Students have come back from holidays full of energy and enthusiasm in most cases, so I’m looking forward to a good year.

The Early Music Society of Queensland has also started the year with a bang, holding a “Renaissance Rediscovery Day” last Sunday (Feb 16th). This was an opportunity to try out some of the less well known renaissance instruments, including crumhorn, cornemuse and racket. There’s nothing like trying to play a new instrument to remind myself of some of the challenges facing beginning students! Luckily, people were very polite and encouraging about my attempts to play the crumhorn.

The previous Sunday (Feb 9th) was mostly taken up with a Music Reading Day held annually by AUSTA Qld. This is one of the most inspiring events of the AUSTA Q year, when about 60 local string teachers and performers gather to play through new compositions for school string orchestras by local and overseas composers. The range of music means that there’s something for every situation, with music composed by string specialists who know exactly what will work well on the instruments. So much of the music was very uplifting – music that invited me to enjoy playing.

When I’m not teaching, I have a chance to prepare for a repeat performance of Handel’s Nine German Arias, titled “Ornaments of the Earth” at the Butter Factory Arts Centre, Cooroy on the Sunshine Coast, as well as working with colleagues on other chamber music combinations.

In between these various teaching and playing activities, I continue to take advertising bookings for AUSTA’s National Journal, Stringendo, and to help coordinate Early Music Society activities as Secretary and co-newsletter editor.

No wonder the year seems to be flying by!

 

 

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Resonance Duo

Here are a couple of samples from a recent demo recording made with my wonderful colleague, flautist Gillian Rankine. We’ve been playing together for the past few years, including concerts for the Early Music Society of Queensland, and at the reopening of the historic Brisbane City Hall. Enjoy!

Cincopa WordPress plugin

 

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Live Streaming of Handel’s 9 German arias

with Dan Curro, Janet Brewer, & Judit V. Molnár.

A new dimension in live performance for me, and slightly nerve wracking! Our performance of Handel’s 9 German arias in the 2014 Music by the Sea Festival, Sandgate was streamed live. If you’re interested it is still available to view the video – here’s the link.

In this photo it looks as if Handel is peering over our shoulders to keep an eye on us! – actually this image was part of a beautiful slideshow compiled by Belinda McKay to accompany the performance.

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Swapping hats!

For the past term and a half I have been busily teaching young string players in Education Qld’s instrumental music program for 2 days per week, so haven’t had much time to write blog posts! This work – teaching group lessons and conducting ensembles is certainly not without it’s challenges, but it is also lot’s of fun and rewarding. In many cases, the students would not have the chance to learn an instrument without this program. Now it’s time for me to take off my “music teacher” hat, and swap back into performer mode, with rehearsals starting this week for performances of “Venus & Adonis” by Pepusch. Instead of starting the day with school orchestra rehearsals at 7.30 am I can sleep in a little, and luckily my daughters have also finished their before-school rehearsals for the rest of the year.

Still, apart from an adjustment to the daily schedule, it also requires effort to switch off that sometimes overly critical and analytical mindset, and switch into a more imaginative and intuitive mode. This is where opportunities to keep performing, even in less formal situations, can be invaluable for those of us who combine perfoming careers with other work. The Early Music Society of Qld, and Australian Strings Association, are a couple of groups I belong to which provide these kinds of opportunities – informal concerts, chamber music soirees, etc, throughout the year, giving people a chance to get together and share their passion for music-making, in a relaxed, non-competitive environment. In fact, this past weekend I’ve been to two such occasions, and realize on reflection that the fun of these gatherings reminds me of the essential love of music that inspired me to choose a career in music.

 

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First Handel German Arias rehearsal

January 12, 2014 may seem a long way off, but with the “silly season” and “end-of-the-year” madness about to intervene, it was great to make a start last Friday on rehearsals for a performance of Handel’s “9 German Arias” . This concert will be part of the “Music by the Sea” Festival in Sandgate, January 10 – 12 2014. Yes, January in this part of the world is wonderfully hot, but I am told the venue will be air-conditioned, so if you’re not among  the hoards who head off to the coast at that time of year, put this date in your diary!

It is a delight to be working again with Hungarian soprano Judit V. Molnár, who I last performed with in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with the Brisbane Baroque Players, as well as harpsichordist Janet Brewer, and cellist Dan Curro. Here are a couple of snaps taken after our rehearsal:

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Pepusch – “Venus & Adonis”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m excited to be involved in upcoming performances of Pepusch’s masque “Venus & Adonis”, which is being presented by the University of Qld, to coincide with a conference on Arts and Rhetorics of Emotions in Early Modern Europe. A great deal of research goes on behind the scenes to bring these works to life for modern audiences, some of which can be glimpsed by following the link to the conference. The research for my masters thesis on early French violin sonatas also included many references to rhethorical theories of the period. A fascinating subject.

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Venus & Adonis – Pepusch – Saturday 23 November, 2.00pm; Tuesday 26 November, 6:30pm

It’s not till November, but since that time of the year usually becomes frantically busy, here’s a heads-up to put these dates in the diary if you’re in Brisbane! The Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the History of the Emotions will host two performances of Johann Christoph Pepusch’s masque Venus & Adonis with baroque orchestra at the University of Queensland. First performed to critical acclaim at London’s Theatre Royal at Drury Lane in March 1715, the work is a setting of an English-language libretto by Colley Cibber (after Ovid). Similar in tone and length to Handel’s Acis & Galatea, this small-scale opera tells the captivating story of the love between Venus and Adonis and the bitter jealousy of his rival, Mars.
The work will be performed with vocal soloists and baroque instrumentalists drawn both locally (including moi) and from further afield, under the musical direction of harpsichordist Donald Nicholson (a member of the Melbourne-based baroque trio Latitude 37) with theatrical direction by Professor Jane Davidson (of UWA), who has recently worked on a number of baroque operas in collaboration with harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, including a Copenhagen production of Monteverdi’s Orfeo. The score has been edited by UQ academic (and baroque oboist) Dr Samantha Owens from a manuscript set of parts, now held in the library of London’s Royal Academy of Music, that can be traced back to a 1718 revival at the Lincoln’s Inn Fields theatre. The two performances, on Saturday, 23 November at 2.00pm and Tuesday, 26 November at 6:30pm, are both at the UQ Art Museum (St Lucia Campus). For further information, please contact Sam Owens (e-mail: s.owens@uq.edu.au).

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