Review: Magical music amid the stars

Share Canberra's trusted news:

MUSIC
“Southern Sky”
Composed by Urmas Sisask, arranged by Michael Sollis, for the Griffyn Ensemble, at Mt Stromlo Observatory, March 31.

One hundred and sixty lucky Canberrans crammed into the ruins of Mt Stromlo Observatory for a unique performance.

There was more than a bit of serendipity in the fact that the eccentric Estonian composer and amateur astronomer, Urmas Sisask, had visited Mt Stromlo about 15 years ago and on that basis wrote the second of his “Starry Sky” piano cycles.

By chance, the Australian astronomer Fred Watson and the director of the Griffyn ensemble, Michael Sollis, met Sisask in Estonia last year and a collaboration followed.

This was a ravishing night under the stars, with Watson offering an erudite yet entertaining account of the constellations, many barely visible to the naked eye. The circular ruins of the observatory made a fine amphitheatre for Sisask’s music, completely rearranged by Sollis for flute, clarinet, horn, percussion, harp, soprano, guitar and mandolin.

This accessible music, which began with a magpie-like flute, followed unfamiliar constellations – the delicate winglike sounds of “Musca – liberation”, the constellation named after the fly, the quivering sounds of “Circinus Brownian Movement” and “Reticulum – Eternity – Fading into Eternity”, where percussionist Wyuna O’Keeffe and soprano Susan Ellis evoked the sense of the rapidly-expanding universe in sounds almost too subtle to hear.

Ninety minutes of magical music and astronomy passed in a nanosecond. Where else but in Canberra could this have happened?

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep citynews.com.au free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleReview: Voices of promise
Next articleScience meets art for Centenary
Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

Leave a Reply