CIMF / Colourful concert has something for everyone

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Roland Peelman, piano with Susannah Lawergren, soprano. Photo: Peter Hislop

Canberra International Music Festival / Concert 9, “Great Hall Rising”, Fitters’ Workshop, May 3. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

AUSTRALIAN democracy came about through several dramatic events. This concert linked some of the landmarks of Australian history with music that journeyed into the heart and soul of the nation.

The artists for this performance were: William Barton, didgeridoo; Delmae Barton, voice; Golden Gate Brass Quintet; Daniel and David Wilfred, songmen from Ngukurr in Arnhem Land; Susannah Lawergren, soprano; Jason Noble, clarinet; Veronique Serret, violin; James Wannan, viola; Blair Harris, cello; and Roland Peelman, piano.

In a concert of diverse performances that crossed much musical territory, it began with “Bakery Hill Rising”, by Vincent Plush. The title of this work coming from the Eureka Rebellion of 1854, which occurred in Bakery Hill, Ballarat, Victoria. From outside the workshop, the French horn played by Aidan Gabriels from the Golden Gate Brass Quintet sounded out a call what could be heard as a statement of defiance.

As he walked onto the stage, this melancholy, almost lonely music was soon accompanied by a recording of the other parts of this piece. The music filled the workshop with a deep penetrating resonance. Its effect mesmerising. During the applause, the composer took the stage, took the hand of the player and they bowed.

Delmae Barton, voice, with William Barton, didgeridoo. Photo: Peter Hislop.

“Welcome” by Delmae and William Barton, for didgeridoo, guitar and voice, was a gentle and mysterious piece that had a strong message of togetherness. It was a highly original work that had a compelling tale of spoken word and singing, and it was a stunning musical story. William looked fittingly proud of his mother as he beamed at her during their applause.

Johannes MacDonald’s, “The Sun is Coming (a warning from Ra)”, a world premiere for the rarely heard contrabass clarinet played by Jason Noble, relied upon the deep growling tone that this instrument can produce. Going through several techniques, a pattern emerged as if to state something mystical. The composer was at hand to take applause along with the performer.

With the festival director Peelman on piano and Lawergren singing, they performed Elena Kats-Chernin’s song “Late Spring”. This soft profound work after a Judith Wright poem was a tender piece sung with a gentleness that beguiled this reviewer.

Contrabass clarinet player,  Jason Noble. Photo: Peter Hislop

“Min Min Light” by Moya Henderson was inspired by an ABC “Big Country” documentary. The performers were Veronique Serret, violin, James Wannan, viola, Blair Harris, cello, Jason Noble, clarinets. The music floated through many changing colours. Its mysterious nature perfectly captured the story of this dancing light. The music glided and jumped like a spectre. The playing was equally extraordinary. Henderson walked to the stage and bowed to the audience.

Daniel and David Wilfred’s, “Yolgnu Manikay” songs of family and songs for children in language along with clapsticks and didgeridoo, was something special. The penetrating singing voice of Daniel Wilfred cut deeply into the emotions. It was a rare experience.

“Solder”, a world premiere written by Luke Styles and performed by Golden Gate Brass Quintet, who are five very in tune players, created a wall of sound for this work. This piece alludes to the making and soldering that goes on in the manufacture of brass instruments. It is quite a concept to make music out of that idea. This eclectic bright piece in several movements, written in a contemporary style, filled the workshop with a massive volume of ethereal sound.

In a concert of many colours, this one had something for everyone.

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