BACK in 2012, the Australian Chamber Orchestra staged, as part of its pop-up concert series at Pier 2/3 in Sydney, an unusual collaboration with Bell Shakespeare.
Conceived by Timo-Veikko Valve and directed by co-artistic director of Bell, Peter Evans, the “concert” saw actors Andrea Demetriades and William Zappa read from a selection of letters by composer Leoš Janáček and his mistress Kamila Stösslová in between movements of Janáček’s String Quartet no 2, known as “Intimate Letters” performed with 4 string players, along with other works. Concept by Timo-Veikko Valve.
The movements depict the couple’s initial meeting, a day they spent in a spa town, and Janáček imagining what it would be like to consummate their relationship and have a family.
The performance was such a hit that the two flagship companies decided to collaborate on a developed version and the result, also called “Intimate Letters”, is about to hit the road with all the strings of the ACO.
Now Janáček’s final composition, under the direction of London Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Gordan Nikolic, is to be brought to life by the players and , under the direction of Evans, two Bell Shakespeare actors, Marshall Napier and Ella Scott Lynch, in what they’re calling “a beautiful combination of music and drama.”
Janácek’s passionate love for Stösslová, 38 years his junior, was a source of light and inspiration for the last twelve years of the composer’s life, the company says. Though both were married to other people, Janáček wrote over 700 letters to Kamila during his final years.
Also on the program is a string quartet by Smetana, “From My Life,” written as the composer descended into deafness. Mozart’s light-hearted “Divertimento in F, K.138”, probably while he was travelling in Milan completes the program.
Nikolic, who plays a Joseph Guarneri filius Andreae violin, has been described as “a violinist of infectious energy and enthusiasm, “ is a professor at the Royal College of Music (London) and the Guildhall School of Drama and Music, and Artistic Director of The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. He has worked on numerous film soundtracks, including as orchestra leader for the scores of Star Wars episodes, “The Phantom Menace”, and “Attack of the Clones.”
“Intimate Letters”, at Llewellyn Hall, 8pm Saturday, August 23, bookings to 1800 444 444 or aco.com.au