Theatre / “Avenue Q”. At The Q, Queanbeyan, until May 13. Reviewed by IAN McLEAN
“LET’S have leadership,” composer Matthew Hindson told the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. “Let’s have a chamber series in which all the music is Australian”.Happily, the CSO was all for it and signed the well-known composer to head its newest initiative, the inaugural “Australian Series” chamber concert, “Animalia”, a suite for wind quintet commissioned by the Orchestra from Australian composer and ANU lecturer, Natalie Williams.
“The great thing is that Australian music has developed over 30 for the past 35 years and particularly the last 25,” Hindson says.
Of course he admits that’s a superficial view as we’ve had Western composers going back to Isaac Nathan, the so-called “father of Australian music”, and Indigenous composers for at least 4000 years before that and probably much longer.
But he’s mostly talking about the contemporary classical music scene, which, as he tells “Citynews” has “such a strength and diversity and character”.
Lamentably, he says, back in the bad old 80s the perception was that Australian music was “difficult” but now “there’s been a real flowering of style, our society is multicultural and so too is our music multicultural and diverse”.
The CSO has taken on board that idea and given strong support to Australian music through its orchestral programs and now through the Australian series.
Hindson is quick to assure us that his series doesn’t just feature recent music, but dates right back to around 1897.
Hindson will curate three concerts of original music during the Australian Series. Each of which will be paired with a special exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
“Every program features world premieres,” he says. But we really are going back in Australian history and through to the current day.
“I believe people are going to respond.”
First cab off the rank is Williams’ commissioned composition, “Animalia”, which is about companion animals, a serendipitous choice, since the performance will take place at the National Portrait Gallery where the current exhibition is “The Popular Pet Show”, a collection of pet portraits by Australian artists.
The suite, composed by Williams, described by Hindson as “a really fantastic composer”, was written as a response to the exhibition and highlights the relationship between pets and their owners, with each movement commenting on pieces within the show.Another innovation is that the concert will be performed not by the CSO but by the up and coming Melbourne quintet Arcadia Winds, which consists of Kiran Phatak on flute, Matthew Kneale on bassoon, Lloyd Van’t Hoff on clarinet, David Reichelt on oboe and Rachel Shaw on French Horn.
But fear not, there were plenty of familiar talent on show in the form of harpist Alice Giles and flautist Virgilio Taylor who, incidentally, performed Hindson’s complete version of his flute concerto “House Music” as part of the CSOs subscription series a couple of years back.
“This is a program of national importance, where putting a national perspective on it… this is only the beginning, we’re going to be constantly having conversations with people around the country,” Hindson concludes.
The CSO’s “Companion Pieces,” at the Gordon Darling Hall, National Portrait Gallery, 6.30pm Thursday, March 2, Bookings to firstname.lastname@example.org or 6262 6772.
Following the concert, the audience is invited to a private after-hours viewing of the featured NPG exhibition “The Popular Pet Show”.