HEARING the fresh and uplifting music by local pianist and composer Michael Dooley in the airy, bright and modern North Belconnen Uniting Church in Melba, was a seldom experienced delight.
Beginning with “Fields of Freedom” for solo piano, played by Dooley, the free-flowing tonal, melodic music had an inspiring and joyous feel to it. It modulated several times around a central repeated note in different keys, which made it hang in the ear.
With the next song “No rose so fair” and as with most of Dooley’s works on this album they are built on a song-like structure, the melodic flowing music continued in the form of a love song. It also had Timothy Wickham on violin, Phillipa Thompson, violin, Iska Samson, viola and Alex Voorhoeve on cello who are all players in the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. This piece could easily fit into the movie music category so much so that a listener could almost see the pictures.
In “The Secret Place”, which was for piano and string quartet, had the feel of movie music again. “Because I am your Child” followed and soprano Julie O’Connor added the voice heard in many of Dooley’s pieces. This work was a bit overly sweet, but O’Connor’s voice made the song clear and it had the most dramatic moments in all of Dooley’s music on the day.
Onto the title track on Dooley’s new album “Wings of the Morning”. The melody hits a few bars into the music in the treble keys that was filled by a flowing arpeggio in the bass. It had a lovely transition into a minor key through the falling melody. This was another work that had a strong cantabile quality.
All of Dooley’s music is well thought out and follows similar patterns. While a bit more diversity and perhaps dissonance would add further depth, the style he aims for seems to be one of serenity and an openly emotional response to the world, which creates refreshing and positive music.
The name Dooley has Irish roots, and he responded to that through his piece “Beulah”. Caroline McNicholas played the flute in this song, along with the string quartet and piano. The folky old world feel in the music captured the image of a venerated Celtic charm.
Before the interval, a piece titled “A Surprise” was played by the string quartet and Dooley asked the audience to guess the composer. No one guessed who wrote this short Mozartian piece, but it turned out to be Dooley’s oldest son William, who is 13.
Eight more pieces followed after the interval, which included dance music, a hymn-like song titled “A Vast Australian Sky” with soprano and other works about people and place, plus a tango as an encore.
Dooley’s music is filled with the idea and sounds of peace, nature and inspiration. His dreamy themes brought out feelings of hope in a concert of allure and clarity.