SHE

[Seven Harp Ensemble,
formerly the Kioloa Harp Ensemble]

As It Is In Heaven ...

Kangaroo Valley Hall, Kangaroo Valley, 7.30pm Sunday Jan 27 2008

Ingrid Bauer (harp)
Lily Dixon (harp)

Alice Giles (pictured, left; harp)

Genevieve Lang (see photo below; harp)
Hilary Manning (harp)
Tegan Peemoeller (harp)
Laura Tanata (harp)

also appearing: The Choir That Dare Not Speak Its Name

STOP PRESS (January 15): concert sold out!

concert presented by the Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership -
profits to assist its projects in East Timor


program | SHE | photos | Alice Giles | composers' bios | reviews | post-concert review


program:

Les Tourbillons (Play of the Winds) Jean-Francois Dandrieu [1684-1740] arr. C. Salzedo [1885-1961]
Gavotta Giambattista Martini [1706-1784] arr. C. Salzedo
Clair de Lune Claude Debussy [1862-1918] arr. C. Salzedo
Sevenfold Amen
world première
Sharon Calcraft [1955-]
Green Bushes Percy Grainger [1882-1961] arr. T. Peemoeller/L. Tanata
Rikki-Tikki's Exotic Dance Ian Whitney [1982-]

intermission (with free refreshments!)

Seven Widows at the Gates of Sugamo
world première
vocal soloists: Robert Farnham, Tegan Peemoeller
Martin Wesley-Smith [1945-]
text: Peter Wesley-Smith [1945-]
Gabriella's Song
with choir
soloist: Patsy Radic
Stefan Nilsson [1955-], arr. Martin Wesley-Smith
text: Py Bäckman; English version: Peter Wesley-Smith
photo essay: Alice Wesley-Smith [1980-]
Bolmimerie
Carlos Salzedo
Venezolana
Alfredo Rolando Ortiz

program | SHE | photos | Alice Giles | composers' bios | reviews | top

SHE


L to R: Genevieve Lang, Hilary Manning, Lily Dixon, Tegan Peemoeller, Ingrid Bauer, Laura Tanata & Alice Giles


Under the directorship of Alice Giles - international harp soloist and teacher at the Australian National University's School of Music - this enchanting ensemble has a commitment to encouraging new repertoire for harp ensemble, as well as performing arrangements of popular classics.

Formerly known as the Kioloa Harp Ensemble, SHE was founded during the Summer Harp Camps that Alice runs at the ANU's field station at Kioloa on the south coast of New South Wales.

Performances to date include ABC Classic FM Sunday Live; School of Music, ANU; Wesley Music Centre, Canberra; National Harp Weekend; Multicultural Festival, Canberra Museum; Gunning; Kangaroo Valley; Batemans Bay; Goulburn; Narrandera; Yass; and annual performances at the Kioloa Summer Harp Camps. In July 2006 the ensemble performed a program of newly commissioned Australian works at the American Harp Conference in San Francisco.

Later this year, SHE will record, for Tall Poppies, its first CD. Email Hilary Manning to be advised by email when it is finished and on the market.

SHE is supported by the ACT government.

program | SHE | photos | Alice Giles | composers' bios | reviews | top

Alice Giles

has been acclaimed as one of the world's leading harp soloists. The Australian-born musician first attracted international notice when she won First Prize in the 8th Israel International Harp Contest at the age of 21. Since then she has performed extensively both in recital and with orchestras in Europe, America, Australia, and Israel. She presented her first solo recital at the age of 13 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, was awarded the coveted Churchill International Fellowship and an Australia Council Grant to study in the USA, and made her New York debut recital at Merkin Hall in 1983. Her teachers include June Loney, Alice Chalifoux and Judith Liber.

She has been a guest artist at numerous festivals, including the Bath Mozartfest, Scotia Festival, Adelaide and Sydney Festivals, Schleswig-Holstein and Insel Hombroich Festivals in Germany, Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Barossa Festival, Huntington Festival, the Salzedo Centennial in Austin, Texas, World Harp Congress in Copenhagen, World Harp Festival in Cardiff, the Edinburgh Harp Festival and was invited by Rudolf Serkin to participate for three summers in the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, USA.

Concert highlights include solo recitals in London's Wigmore Hall, New York's 92nd Street Y, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Toronto, and concertos with Collegium Musicum Zürich, Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe, the English Symphony Orchestra, Danish Radio Concert Orchestra, Hamburg Mozart Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra Taiwan, and a tour with the Australian Youth Orchestra featuring a performance in Carnegie Hall. She has worked with many conductors - David Porcelijn, Michael Christie, Marcus Stenz, Mark Elder, Muhai Tang, ahja Ling, Tuomas Ollila, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Ola Rudner, Roderick Brydon, Günter Neuhold, Hiroyuki Iwaki, Henry Krips, Ronald Zollman, Werner Andreas Albert among others. She performs regularly with all the major Australian Symphony and Chamber orchestras.

Alice was regarded by Luciano Berio as the foremost interpreter of his "Sequenza II", and she has taken part in tributes to Berio at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London, Salzburg Mozarteum, and at the 92nd Street Y in New York to honour his 70th birthday. She has given many premiere performances for her instrument and has recently commissioned a complete program of new works for the electroacoustic harp.

Chamber music ensemble partners include the Duo Corda with her husband Arnan Wiesel on piano, the Australia Ensemble, the Melos Quartet, Thomas Zehetmair, Jenny Abel, Andrea Lieberknecht, Geoffrey Collins, Eingana Ensemble and many others.

Alice Giles has an international reputation as a teacher, having given master classes in the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Conservatorium in The Hague, Royal Academy London, Cleveland Institute, the Juilliard School, Curtis Institute, and at the International Youth Festival in Bayreuth. From 1990 to 1998 she taught at the Hochschüle für Musik in Frankfurt, and has recently been appointed to the School of Music, ANU in Australia. She was on the jury for the 1998 International Harp Contest in Israel, the 2004 USA International Harp Competition and the IX Concourso Nationale d'Arpa 'Victor Salvi'.

Her discography includes three solo harp discs, a concerto disc with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, conductor David Porcelijn, and many chamber music discs - among others as Duo Corda, with the Budapest Brass Quintet, with flutist Geoffrey Collins, the Marlboro Recording Society, and the Kunstpfeifer Martin Werner - for the KOCH, Musikado, ABC Classics, Tall Poppies, ArtWorks, CDI (Israel) and TMK labels.

program | SHE | photos | Alice Giles | composers' bios | reviews | top


Kangaroo Valley Hall, Kangaroo Valley, 7.30pm, Sunday January 27 2008


Australian composers whose works are being premiered at this concert:

Sharon Calcraft

Born in Jamaica in 1955, Sharon Calcraft moved to Australia with her family at age fourteen. She began writing music in the late 1970s when filmmaker/animator Antoinette Starkiewicz asked her to write the music for a short film she was preparing. She scored her first feature for director John Duigan in 1981 (Winter of Our Dreams) and went on to score many films including Far East, Fast Talking, Boundaries of the Heart, Boys in the Island and a number of animated shorts and features. These years were a time of great exchange of ideas with a core group of brilliant musicians who she was fortunate enough to have as interpreters. These artists included Chris Abrahams, Lloyd Swanton, Steve Elphick, Greg Sheehan, James Morrison, Nigel Westlake, Stephanie MacCallum, Elizabeth Campbell, Michael Askill, and so many other gifted and generous ones including sound engineer Gerry Nixon. Her film scoring career was put on hold when her three sons were small and she was for a time a guest lecturer at the AFTRS, giving talks on the Classical Hollywood Film Score. She has written works for Synergy Percussion (La Mort Mysterieuse for percussion quartet and mezzo Elizabeth Campbell); the group Halcyon (Stefanos for electro-acoustic harp, amplified piano, soprano and mezzo); Alice Giles on Camac "Blue" harp (Tombeau de L'Abbe Suger); liturgical works for the Choristers of St Andrew's Cathedral under the direction of Michael Deasey (Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, Te Deum and a setting of parts of the text of Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich). She has most recently completed a commission for St Andrew's Cathedral School for Halcyon, choir, organ and percussion. The text is taken from one of St Ephrem the Syrian's great hymns on The Pearl. She teaches composition at St Ignatius College, Riverview.



Sevenfold Amen

In my late teenage years, I encountered the music of Alice Coltrane, wife of the great avant-garde saxophonist John Coltrane. Her freestyle playing of the harp opened my mind and my ears to the particular sound-world of that instrument.

A few years later, I met Alice Giles on a recording session at Studios 301 in Sydney. We were both playing on a film session for a mutual friend, composer Cameron Allen, and a lasting association was forged. That was many years ago now and Alice and I never completely lost touch with one another, even though sometimes many years elapsed before we talked or saw one another again.

From the time of that first illuminatory meeting with the music of Alice Coltrane to my present working relationship with Alice Giles, my interest in the harp has never waned and I used it in nearly all my film scores, working in those years with Romanian harpist Ulpia Erdos as Alice was in Europe during that period.

In 2002 I was able to incorporate Alice playing on the Camac "Blue" electro-acoustic harp on a piece I was writing for the Sydney group Halcyon. The great range of possibilities on this instrument was an enormous stimulus and I learned much about extended harp techniques when writing this piece. I was pleased then, when Alice commissioned a new work from me for a solo concert of all new works for the Camac "Blue" along with new works from Nigel Westlake, Elena Kats-Chernin, Andrew Ford and others.

In this piece for seven harps, Sevenfold Amen I have tried to explore further those things about the harp that I've learned along the way. It is an instrument capable of so much more than is often heard. This range of capabilities is explored wonderfully by Luciano Berio in his Sequenza No.2 for Harp and also in Elliot Carter's Bariolage for solo harp. The deeper register of the harp is of particular interest to me and has a similar effect on my being as does the theorbo. On the subject of capability there is even a way for the harp to play quite tough and even funky passages using pedal-shifts and buzzes.

Sevenfold Amen flashed into reality recently in the guise of a fleeting auditory "image" of cicadas singing their particular deafening and dance like summer song. I also recalled a line from African-American poet Maxine Claire: "And choirs of cicada droned a fugue of The Seven-Fold Amen." Somewhere in all this there is also John the Revelator exiled on Patmos and writing the letters to the Seven Churches in Asia. The work is in two movements, Stile concitato and Adagietto Notturno.

SC

email Sharon here


program

Percy Grainger

Eccentric composer, pianist, folk-song collector, musical instrument inventor etc Percy Aldridge Grainger was born in Melbourne in 1882. He gave his first public piano performance at the age of 12, critics hailing him as a new prodigy. In 1895 his mother, Rose, took him to Europe to study at Dr. Hoch's conservatory in Frankfurt. There he displayed his talents as a musical experimenter, using irregular and unusual meters. He belonged to the Frankfurt Group, a circle of composers who studied at the Hoch Conservatory in the late 1890s. Fellow-students included Cyril Scott, Henry Balfour Gardiner, Norman O'Neill and Roger Quilter ... Grainger was an innovative musician who anticipated many forms of twentieth century music well before they became established by other composers. As early as 1899 he was working with "beatless music", using metric successions (including such sequences as 2/4, 21/2/4, 3/4, 2 1/2 /4). His use of chance music in 1912 predated by forty years John Cage, and Grainger composed "unplayable" music for player piano rolls twenty years before it was "invented" by Conlon Nancarrow. In 1906, Grainger hiked around Britain making field recordings of these folk songs on Edison wax cylinders, the first to make such recordings. During this period, Grainger also wrote and performed piano compositions that presaged the forthcoming popularization of the tone cluster by Leo Ornstein and Henry Cowell. His 1916 piano composition In a Nutshell is the first by a classical music professional in the Western tradition to require direct, non-keyed sounding of the strings - in this case, with a mallet - which would come to be known as a "string piano" technique. In 1929 he developed a style of orchestration that he called "Elastic Scoring". Later he worked on his remarkable "Free Music" machines, the most famous of which being the "Hills and Dales" machine: the "Kangaroo Pouch method of synchronising and playing eight oscillators". This is on display at the Grainger Museum in Melbourne.

[more; Green Bushes notes; see this: The International Percy Grainger Society]




concert poster by Diana Jaffray:


click on image
for larger version in colour (528KB)

click here for
same poster in black & white (360KB)




program:

Dandrieu
Martini
Debussy: Clair de lune
Calcraft: Sevenfold Amen
Grainger: Green Bushes
Whitney: Rikki-Tikki's Exotic Dance

Wesley-Smith: Seven Widows ...
Nilsson: Gabriella's Song
Salzedo: Bolmimerie
Ortiz: Venezolana




composers' bios
Alice Giles
SHE
reviews
top

Martin Wesley-Smith

is an eclectic composer at home in a diverse range of idioms. Two main themes have dominated his music so far: the life, work and ideas of Lewis Carroll and the plight of the people of East Timor. It varies from whimsical instrumental pieces (e.g. db and Snark-Hunting) to strong, sometimes confronting, audio-visual works (e.g. Welcome to the Hotel Turismo, Weapons of Mass Distortion and Papua Merdeka). One of his chamber pieces - For Marimba & Tape - is the most-performed piece of Australian so-called "serious art-music". Most of his songs and choral works set the words of his twin brother Peter Wesley-Smith:

Together they have written many songs (for kids as well as for grown-ups), choral pieces etc, including the full-length Boojum!, about Lewis Carroll (premiered at the 1986 Adelaide Festival of Arts in front of the Queen of England!). Born in Adelaide in 1945, they each had separate academic careers (Martin at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Peter at the University of Hong Kong, where he was Professor of Constitutional Law) before deciding, ten years ago, to live together in Kangaroo Valley in order to concentrate on creative projects. These have included the centenary-of-federation piece Black Ribbon, for soloists, choir & orchestra (2001), commissioned by The Canberra Choral Society, True, for soprano, choir, flute & piano (2002), commissioned by the Canberra Gay & Lesbian Qwire, and doublethink, for six singers (2005), commissioned by The Song Company. Their award-winning audio-visual work about schizophrenia and East Timor, Quito, was performed by The Song Company in Kangaroo Valley in 2005. Their song Baghdad Baby Boy was sung by Yvonne Kenny at the inaugural Kangaroo Valley Arts Festival in 2007.

Peter has published three books of verses for children (e.g. The Ombley-Gombley and Foul Fowl) and the epic nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark: Second Expedition, and has had verses published in various anthologies (e.g. Putrid Poems, Petrifying Poems, Vile Verse and Off the Planet). One of his song lyrics is the as-yet-uncompleted I Don't Think I'm Indecisive, Am I?, which is a humerus ditty about his upper arm.

Websites: Martin, Peter; visit Martin's blog; learn about his audio-visual concerts with clarinettist Ros Dunlop and cellist Julia Ryder; email: Martin, Peter


Seven Widows at the Gates of Sugamo

At the conclusion of the Pacific War, the victorious allies brought proceedings against Japanese suspected of war crimes. Many trials were held in Asia for offences against the laws and usages of war, with nearly one thousand Japanese soldiers and camp guards being sentenced to death. The international military tribunal which sat in Tokyo 1946-48 tried twenty five men accused of planning and waging aggressive war. Seven of these defendants, including Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, were found guilty, and were executed on 23 December 1948 at Tokyo's Sugamo Prison.

In this piece the seven widows bewail the fate of their husbands. Tojo, beyond the grave, replies in anger and sorrow to his wife, Katsuko Ito.

PW-S (see text at right)

Tojo will be sung by Robert Farnham, Ito by Tegan Peemoeller


General Hideki Tojo,
war-time Prime Minister of Japan

Ian Whitney

Brisbane born and raised, Ian began study in the Queensland Conservatorium's Young Con program with Stephen Leek. He completed his composition degree with Gerard Brophy. He participated in the Australian Youth Orchestra's National Music Camp Composition program in 2002 with Graeme Koehne, and in 2003 with Ross Edwards. This led to Ian being granted the inaugural AYO/National Institute of Dramatic Art Fellowship which entailed a six week residency program at NIDA writing incidental music for a production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Jennifer Hagan. In 2005, Ian returned to National Music Camp for the first Scenes and Arias program, an opera writing course, where he learnt from Richard Meale, Richard Mills and Merlyn Quaife. Ian also holds a Masters of Creative Industries Arts and Cultural Management from QUT. He currently lives in Washington DC.


Rikki-Tikki's Exotic Dance

Whilst at my first National Music Camp, we were very lucky to have Alice Giles as the harp tutor. For the six composers, the harp was a particularly elusive and idiosyncratic instrument and we sought out the chance to learn from Alice the ins and outs of harp writing. In its original form, this short little piece was written for the four student harpists enrolled in that year's program. When I was asked to revise it for SHE, I was thrilled to be able to re-visit an old friend.

IW

email Ian Whitney




harpist Genevieve Lang, of SHE


Seven Widows at the Gates of Sugamo
the bomb has fallen
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
the day of reckoning has come ...

winter time, winter time
winter comes to Tokyo
icy winds in Sugamo
will the winter ever go
emperor Hirohito?
winter time, winter time
cruel Christmas snow

Ito:
Your children, your wife
wait at home, alone
you died for the emperor

Tojo:
I did my duty
I followed orders
surviving war but not peace

Ito:
bushido your creed
heroic your deed
my love, you died with honour

Tojo:
our men, our women
our children, our land
our ancestors are honoured

Ito:
in such loyalty
for this poor nation
for Nipponese tradition

Tojo:
now victors' justice
for conquered heroes
the fate of defeated men

Ito:
for duty, for God
for eternity
my husband, but not for me

the victors:
We who are righteous, praising the Lord
Let him look over us, in Him confide
Trusting Him always, we earn our reward
Surging to victory with God on our side

God smites our enemies, terrible His sword
Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide
Vengeance is yours, sayeth the Lord
Conquering forever, with God on our side

Our father, our friend, our mentor, our guide
Our future, our hope, our promise, our pride
False idols and heathen He will not abide
But we will be saved, with God on our side

(c) 2007 Peter Wesley-Smith


Percy Grainger's Green Bushes (Passacaglia on an English Folksong)

This was written in London and Denmark between November 16, 1905, and September 19, 1906. Sources for the composition were: [1] a folksong collected by Cecil Sharp, from the singing of Mrs. Louie Hooper of Hambridge, Somerset, and [2] the singing of Mr. Joseph Leaning at Brigg, Lincoinshire, collected by Grainger on August 7, 1906. Green Bushes (or Lost Lady Found or The Three Gypsies) was apparently a widely-known melody; Grainger accumulated ten different variations of it during his folksong collecting career, and used one of them as the final movement of his Lincoinshire Posy in 1937. Though the song is of English origin, it has also been found in Ireland and America, Ralph Vaughan Williams used it in the Intermezzo of his Folk Song Suite, as did George Butterworth in The Banks of Green Willow.

Green Bushes was first performed at the Philharmonic Concert at the Kurhaus an der Comphausbadstrasse, Auchen, Germany on May 10, 1912, with Grainger conducting. He rescored it on January 16-28, 1921, in Texas, Florida, and Tennessee for 20, 21, or 22 instruments (strings, flute, piccolo, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, double-bassoon, soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet, horns, timpani, side-drum, bass drum, cymbals, xylophone, piano, harmonium or pipe organ) or full orchestra. In his program notes, Grainger writes:

"... their robust looks, body actions and heart-stirs"

Among country-side folksongs in England, Green Bushes was one of the best known of folksongs - and well it deserved to be, with its raciness, its fresh grace, its manly clear-cut lines . . . (it) strikes me as being a typical dance-folksong - a type of song come down to us from the time when sung melodies, rather than instrumental music, held country-side dancers together. It seems to breathe that lovely passion for the dance that swept like a fire over Europe in the middle ages - seems brimful of all the youthful joy and tender romance that so naturally seek an outlet in dancing.

An unbroken keeping-on-ness of the dance-urge was, of course, the first need in a dance-folksong, so such tunes had to be equipped with many verses (20 or 100 or more) so that the tune could be sung ... as long as the dance was desired to last.

In setting such dance-folksongs (indeed, in setting all dance music) I feel that the unbroken and somewhat monotonous keeping-on-ness of the original should be preserved above all else.

The greater part of my passacaglia is many-voiced and free-voiced. Against the folktune I have spun free counter-melodies of my own - top tunes, middle tunes, bass tunes ... The key-free harmonic neutrality of the folksong's mixolydian mode opens the door to a wondrously free fellowship between the folktune and these grafted-on tunes of mine ...

My Green Bushes setting is thus seen to be a strict passacaglia throughout wellnigh its full length. Yet it became a passacaglia unintentionally. In taking the view that the Green Bushes tune is a dance-folksong, I was naturally led to keep it running like an unbroken thread through my setting, and in feeling prompted to graft upon it modern musical elements expressive of the swish and swirl of dance movements the many-voiced treatment came of itself. The work is in no sense program music - in no way does it musically reflect the story told in the verses of the Green Bushes song text. It is conceived, and should be listened to, as dance music (It could serve as ballet music) ... as an expression of those athletic and ecstatic intoxications that inspire, are inspired by, the dance - my new-time harmonies, voice-weavings and form-shapes being lovingly woven around the sterling old-time tune to in some part replace the long-gone but still fondly mind-pictured festive-mooded country-side dancers, their robust looks, body actions and heart-stirs.

[read more here; return to program; go to top]

This version of Green Bushes was arranged for seven harps by Tegan Peemoeller and Laura Tanata.

Jean-Francois Dandrieu
In 1684 French Baroque composer, harpsichordist and organist Jean-Francois Dandrieu was born in Paris into a family of artists and musicians. A gifted and precocious child, he gave his first public performances when he was five years old, playing the harpsichord for Louis XIV, King of France, and his court. These concerts marked the beginning of Dandrieu's very successful career as harpsichordist and organist. In 1705 he became titular organist of the Saint-Merry church in Paris. At some point in 1706 he was a member of the panel of judges who examined Jean-Philippe Rameau's skills in order to decide whether he could be appointed organist of the Sainte-Madeleine en la Cité church. In 1721 he was appointed one of the four organists of the Chapel Royal of France. He died in Paris in 1740.

Hilary Manning writes:

"... a veritable whirlwind of sound"

Composer and organist, Jean-Francois Dandrieu was a contemporary of Couperin and Rameau, and was a celebrated harpsichord composer in the eighteenth century. He was a pupil of J.-B. Moreau. His first official position was as organist of St Merry; in 1721 he became organist of the royal chapel. He never married, and was buried in St Barthélemy.

The most striking of Dandrieu's talent is his two sets of string sonatas (1705 and 1710), which show an astounding mastery of imitative counterpoint and tonally directed harmony, Italiante rhythm and disjunct melody. To a greater extent than any of his French contemporaries, Dandrieu seems to have thought polyphonically. Sequences, falling or rising, often with exchange of parts and chains of suspensions, and single, transposed repetitions of longer phrases were his favourite way of spinning out ideas.

Dandrieu wrote three books of clavecin pieces (1718, 1728, 1732). The first book particularly, consisting of one substantial and very serious classical suite, takes an honourable place in the company of Marchand (1702), Le Roux (1705) and Rameau (1706). The special interest of the third book, made up entirely of easy teaching pieces, lies in the very complete fingering of each piece. It was in the last harpsichord book that Italianism made its return - indeed the string sonatas themselves returned, transformed into harpsichord pieces. A number of the movements have one or two variations appended.

Dandrieu had little of Couperin's harmonic audacity, complexity of rhythm and texture, endless variety of harpsichord colour, studied naivety, humour or nobility. Instead, there was effortless craft, cohesion, drive and brilliance. The themes, motifs and figures are always well-turned, but they are drawn from a narrow range of types. Even the rationale of the titles is different: whereas Couperin worked from the idea to the music, Dandrieu used titles as performing directions: "I have tried to draw them from the very character of the pieces they designate, so that they can determine the style and tempo by awakening simple ideas acquired by the commonest experience or ordinary and natural sentiments of the human heart".

Les Tourbillons, with its cascades of figurations, is a veritable whirlwind of sound.

[more; see also here; return to program; go to top]


Giovanni Battista Martini
In 1725, though only nineteen years old, Giovanni Battista Martini (1706-1784) received the appointment of chapel-master in the Franciscan church at Bologna, where his compositions attracted attention. At the invitation of amateurs and professional friends he opened a school of composition at which several celebrated musicians were trained ...

Leopold Mozart consulted Martini with regard to the talents of his son, Wolfgang Amadeus ... At the beginning and end of each chapter of his Storia della musica (Bologna, 1757-1781) occur puzzle-canons, wherein the primary part or parts alone are given, and the reader has to discover the canon that fixes the period and the interval at which the response is to enter. Some of these are exceedingly difficult, but Luigi Cherubini solved all of them.

His Esemplare di contrappunto (Bologna, 1774-1775) is a learned and valuable work containing an important collection of examples from the best masters of the old Italian and Spanish schools, with excellent explanatory notes ... Besides being the author of several controversial works, Martini drew up a Dictionary of Ancient Musical Terms, which appeared in the second volume of GB Doni's Works; he also published a treatise on The Theory of Numbers as Applied to Music. His celebrated canons, published in London, about 1800, edited by Pio Cianchettini, show him to have had a strong sense of musical humour ...

[more; return to program; go to top]

Hilary Manning writes:

Padre Giovanni Battista Martini was an Italian teacher and composer, and is one of the most famous figures in 18th-century music. He had his first music lessons from his father Antonio Maria, a violinist and cellist; subsequent teachers were Angelo Predieri, Giovanni Antonio Ricieri, Francesco Antonio Pistocchi (singing) and Giacomo Antonio Perti (composition). In 1721, after indicating his wish to become a monk, Martini was sent to the Franciscan Conventual monastery in Lugo di Romagna. He returned to Bologna towards the end of 1722 and played the organ at S Francesco. In 1725 he succeeded Padre Ferdinando Gridi as maestro di cappella of S Francesco. He occupied that post until the last years of his life, and lived in the convent attached to the church. Martini received minor orders in 1725, and four years later was ordained a priest. His first extant works date from 1724 and the first publication of his music appeared in 1734, Litaniae atque antiphonae finales Beatae Virginis Mariae; only three other collections of his music, all secular, were published during his lifetime.

In 1758, at the age of 52, Martini was made a member of the Accademia dell'Istituto delle Scienze di Bologna, after presenting the Dissertatio de usu progressionis geometricae in musica. In 1776 he was elected a member of the Arcadian Academy in Rome, with the name Aristosseno Anfioneo. The 20-year-old Mozart wrote to him: "I never cease to grieve that I am far away from that one person in the world whom I love, revere and esteem most of all".

One of Martini's most important legacies is his extensive correspondence (about 6000 letters), only a small part of which has been published. Some letters were probably dispersed (or exchanged for other documents) during the 19th century. As well as including letters from such well-known figures as J.F. Agricola, Burney, Gerbert, Locatelli, Marpurg, Metastasio, Quantz, Rameau, Soler and Tartini, the collection forms one of the most important sources for the study of 18th-century musical life and thought in Italy; especially so in this respect is the correspondence with Girolamo Chiti. Martini's library includes also collections of letters by three earlier musicians, P.F. Tosi, G.P. Colonna and G.A. Perti.

Martini's didactic approach is best represented in the two volumes of his Esemplare, o sia Saggio fondamentale pratico di contrappunto (1774-6). This is a compendium of extracts from musical works intended for advanced students and is based "on the example rather than on the rule, on judgment rather than precept". Despite the apparent modernity of the approach through examples, the organization is traditional and perhaps conceptually indebted in its analytical purpose to the broader but incomplete Guida armonica of G.O. Pitoni (of which Martini was certainly aware). The whole work, but especially the first volume, represents a passionate defence of the aesthetic specificities of church styles.

program


Claude Debussy
Throughout his life, Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was deeply influenced by art and literature. He had a remarkable ability to achieve in music the same richness of emotional sensation, and ambivalence, that poetic imagery can produce in a sensitive reader - a skill he showed not only in the opera Pelléas et Melisande but in the first of his orchestral masterpieces, the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. Indeed, Debussy's evocative genius was recognized by Stephane Mallarmé himself, the author of the poem L'Aprés-midi d'un faune, on which this extraordinary orchestral paraphrase is based. "I had not expected anything like that," the poet remarked. "The music prolongs the emotion of the poem and fixes the scene more vividly than colors could have done."

[read more here; see, also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Debussy and many other websites; return to program; go to top]

Clair de lune

Votre ame est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leur déguisements fantasques ....

[from Paul Verlaine's poem "Clair de lune"]

Published in 1905, Debussy's Suite Bergamasque, for piano, has four movements: Prélude, Menuet, Clair de lune and Passepied. Of these, Clair de lune is perhaps Debussy's best-known work. He originally called it Promenade sentimentale but changed it shortly before publication, causing many to question the purported connection between it and Paul Verlaine's poem of the same name. However, Debussy's connection with Verlaine's poetry is far reaching enough for the association to be meaningful. He had already set the poem "Clair de lune," as well as several others, for voice and piano on two separate occasions by 1891, and the word bergamasque is itself contained within that particular text.

This most beautiful music has been used in various films. Walt Disney, for example, planned to use it for a sequence of his cartoon musical Fantasia. Because of the length of the film, however, the sequence was withdrawn before it had been completed. It was restored in 1996 and integrated into the bonus DVD of the film Fantasia 2000. Clair de lune was used in 1997 in the film Seven Years in Tibet, especially in the scene where Tenzin Gyatso receives a music box. Ocean's Eleven is another film to exploit the magic and mystery of its rippling arpeggios ...

[read more here; return to program; go to top]


Stefan Nilsson
is today one of the most popular and sought after film music composers in Sweden. He composed music as a child, and studied for two years at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden. He has worked professionally in the music industry since 1976, primarily as pianist and composer, often together with many well-known artists. In 1996 he played with the Swedish opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter and singer/songwriter Elvis Costello at a highly-praised concert in Stockholm. He scored his first film in 1980 and has since then written music to several major Swedish films, such as Juloratoriet (The Christmas Oratorio), Bille August's Jerusalem, Pelle Erövraren (Pelle the Conqueror) and Den Goda Viljan (The Best Intentions). In 1988 Stefan was awarded with the Norwegian Amanda Award for his music to the film Sweetwater and in 1998 he was given a Guldbagge for his creative achievments in Swedish film - for "music that enriches both epic and comedy".

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Gabriella's Song (from the Swedish film As It Is In Heaven)

Swedish actress
Helen Sjöholm
who plays Gabriella
in the film

In 2005, the Kay Pollak-directed As It Is In Heaven was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Film. The Sydney Morning Herald's Metro, December 7-13 2007, reports: "This charming film about a Swedish choir continues its stint as the longest-running film in Australia - 52 weeks and counting." It marks both an overwhelmingly successful come-back story and one of the greatest successes in Swedish film history. With rave reviews both domestically and internationally, it was a triumph for 66-year-old writer/director Kay Pollak - especially as this was his first film in 18 years.

It was Pollak's wife who gave him the idea. He says: "She sang in a choir and I used to go to pick her up. I listened to the choir and studied it, and I gradually realized what a metaphor for humanity a choir is. I did not know then that this is the largest cultural movement in Sweden - that close to 700,000 people take part in choir-practice every week." He spoke at length with choir-leaders and gradually a script started to evolve ...

For Pollak, this dramatic story could only be set in the far north of Sweden. "I wanted to be able to use the contrasts between the summer, with its special light - and the winter, with its harsh weather and snow-storms."

The film opened in Sweden in September 2004. Aided by positive reviews, it became an instant box office smash hit, shooting straight to the top spot in the cinema charts where it stayed for two months.

It stars Michael Nyqvist and Frida Hallgren with Helen Sjöholm and Lennart Jähkel. One of the choir-members is Gabriella, a battered wife and mother, played by Helen Sjöholm, who can escape domestic hell only by coming to choir practice once per week. Her solo song at the choir's first concert is about standing up for herself in future and not being pushed around. In Peter Wesley-Smith's English version of Py Bäckman's original lyric, she sings:

I'll not falter, pause or perish
only let me be
so my blinded eyes can see
holding firmly all I cherish
strong, determined, proud and free
Most people find it, in context, an incredibly moving song. Check it out in this YouTube clip from the film.

For this performance SHE is joined by The Choir That Dare Not Speak Its Name - or Anyone for Tenors?, or Canon Fodder, or whatever name can be agreed upon by its members (drawn from the Berry Courthouse Choir (conductor: Carlos Alvarado) and elsewhere). Soloist: Patsy Radic. Regrettably, we are unable to show as part of the performance a specially-created photo essay by Alice Wesley-Smith.

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Carlos Salzedo
was born in 1885. Physically weak, he suffered for most of his life from rheumatic fever. He began playing piano at the age of three, and wrote his first composition, a polka, at the age of five. He entered the Paris Conservatoire at nine years old. His father decided he should take up a second instrument, and because he was too weak to play a wind instrument, and his older brother Marcel played violin, the harp was chosen. At sixteen, Carlos won the premier prix in harp and piano on the same day; at eighteen he made his Paris debut as harpist and pianist. About this time he became a choirmaster and gave solo performances around Europe, receiving glowing praise ...

In 1909, Arturo Toscanini invited Salzedo to play for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and Carlos left France for America. He married Viola Gramm, an American pianist and singer, then was drafted into the French Army, where he was made head cook for his infantry unit. He returned to the US in 1916. Carlos started spending more and more time with the increasing number of students who were coming to him, though "not altogether in an artistic sense". In 1926, he and Viola had an amicable divorce in 1926, clearing the way for him to marry, in 1928, 21-year-old Lucile Lawrence, twenty-one years his junior, who had begun her studies with him ten years earlier ...

Salzedo remains one of the greatest harpists in history, a virtuoso player unparalleled, a virtuoso pianist and conductor, and a primal teacher. He was a progressive spirit, seeking new resources in the harp, inspiring and creating new works and creating new styles of music. His composing progressed from French Romantic to Impressionist to a new style uniquely his own. His ideas led to the designs of two harps still manufactured by Lyon & Healy, the art-nouveau style 11 and the art deco Salzedo model ...

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Bolmimerie

Dedicated to the great Russian dancer Adolph Bolm of the 'Ballet Intime', Bolmimerie, for seven-harp ensemble, was originally written for film pantomime in 1919 as a collaboration with scientist/filmmaker Lee de Forest. This performance includes the projection of moving hand-drawn images based on text from the original film.

Extracts from an essay by Laura Tanata:

After Salzedo was discharged from service in World War I, he rented a cottage in Maine where he spent most of his time teaching and composing. During this period Salzedo developed his revolutionary ideas, technical & aesthetic, and modern compositional techniques for the harp. These explorations became the foundation of what is now known as the 'Salzedo Technique' and his compositional studies provided other 20th century composers with many insights when writing for the harp.

In 1917 Salzedo began to experiment with tonal colour and extended technique in search of a 'new sound', which was a trend among composers at that time. He wanted to discard the Romantic stigma of the harp and introduce the instrument's capabilities into the new century. It led him to invent new notations, many of them exclusive to harp writing, published as the 'Modern Study of the Harp'. Some of these inventions were not entirely new, but were adaptations from the previous era to convey the sound and attitudes of the new world. The study was compiled in 1918, just preceding the writing of Bolmimerie. The ideals in 20th century America were mainly generated by the country's fascination with industry. Musically it inspired many composers to imitate the sound of the mechanical world. Some of these effects can be found in Bolmimerie.

The famous Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky together with his wife Romola and baby daughter Kyra also were living in Maine at this time. Salzedo and Nijinsky formed a close friendship that lasted all Nijinsky's life. In Romola's biography on Nijinsky, Salzedo was noted as one of Nijinsky's true friends who stood by him in his glory days as well as in disaster. Plans to organise a travelling troupe of four harpists and four dancers were talked about, but never came to fruition. His friendship with the dancer inspired Salzedo to formulate his theory on gestures for the harp, referred to as 'instrumental aesthetics'. It revolved around the issue of sound production being determined by one's physical movement before, during and after contact with the strings. It covered everything from the attack of the string, which part of the fingertip to use, the speed of finger closure into the palm of the hand and the gestural angle of the hand/wrist raise.

Salzedo had always been in tune with the visual aesthetics of the 20th century. Together with Witold Gordon he designed a new harp that resembled the 20th century not only in its internal construction but visually resembled the architecture of the American Art Deco buildings in cities like New York and Chicago.

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Another dancer friend of Salzedo, Adolph Bolm, also had a summer place in Maine. Bolm had been a student at the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg, but from 1916 had decided to stay in the USA where he later took up residence in Hollywood. He choreographed for many movies and became the first person to introduce dance segments in movies. Bolm had danced with Nijinsky with the Ballet Russes under Serge Diaghilev and also choreographed for the NY Metropolitan Opera and the Chicago Civic Opera. In 1917 he organised his own troupe called the Ballet Intime, which toured America under the orchestral direction of Georges Barrere and Salzedo. To celebrate the birth of Bolm's son, Salzedo composed Prelude for Olaf Bolm for solo piano. Salzedo's interest in ballet is also evident through his involvement with the Ballet Russes. He rehearsed Stravinsky's ballet pieces for the company, and performed some of his ballet music as concert pieces on the piano.

The creation of Bolmimerie was at the invitation of scientist Lee de Forest, as an experiment to synchronise sound and movement in a short film, a technique known as Phonofilm. De Forest wanted to showcase the importance of music in cinema. Up until that point music had always been an added bonus in films to avoid silence. In the early days of cinema, a Vitagraph selection was commonly used to accompany silent films. The selection consisted of well-known tunes, or in other words 'ready-made' music, to choose from when considering adding music for the purposes of enhancing the viewing experience. Alternatively the performing musician was given a cue-sheet for live improvisation. De Forest's experiments introduced the concept that both sound and sight are of equal importance in the cinematic experience, with both elements progressing in parallel motion. His experimental films were not accompanied by pre-existing music, but gave birth to original music specific for each film.

Bolmimerie is around 15 minutes in duration and divided into sections that fit perfectly in character with each scene described in the accompanying text. It is unclear whether the film was ever released. No archival record exists in the Salzedo Archival Centre at the Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City. To take an educated guess, the original tableaux was probably envisioned between Salzedo and Bolm in Maine, but unfortunately only the sheet music and text remains. Up until now the piece has been performed either as a concert piece or with live dance interpretation.

Bolm's other venture with the medium was another Phonofilm based on Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre in 1920, which, according to Cyril W. Beaumont, in his "Complete Book of Ballets", is Bolm's first dance film to be synchronised with music.

In this re-interpretation of Bolmimerie, dance has been eliminated from the process and another medium is introduced: hand-drawn images based on repetitive patterns. These images become the new bridging media between sound and sight. The tableux-style and abstract representation of the accompanying text provide freedom when expressing the cinematic vision. Music and cinematic ideas can be represented by employing a different mode, ie. visual patterns instead of dance.

In a world where visual content seems to take over audience attention, perhaps the mind needs to be reminded of the existence of sound. The see-through quality of the muslin material provides an option for the eyes to occasionally peek into the source of the sound. When image and music are both visualised, the equality of sound and sight finalise the cinematic experience as a whole activity.

The irony of the term "silent film" is that film was never silent, music was always there to accompany. The modern mind refers back to the era as silent because the technology was not yet available to attach recorded speaking words. As a result, the text was often presented as sub-title in between the scenes. This shows how the human mind is very attached to literal thinking and not often encouraged to imaginative thinking. Even a seemingly specific image accompanied by specific sub-title will not be perceived by two different people in quite the same way. The Bolmimerie reinterpretation offered the text only as a supporting hint and therefore presented before the screening.

Intuitive imagination as well as physical gesture plays a big role in 20th century art forms. Bolm was famous for his ability to mime while dancing, which ties in to Nijinsky's idea of gestural movement. Through his mime Bolm was able to express a certain scenario through simple intuitive gesture, capturing the drama within the choreography. When reading Salzedo's instructions, the performer has the liberty to express the seemingly plain instruction into a dramatic action.

Commonly in harp ensemble performances, two or three of the members are found playing the same parts. Bolmimerie consists of four main parts, but the seven individual parts are not identical. When one of the voices finally has the chance to present a solo, it will be a considerable contrast from the usual part double-ups. Harp ensemble is often considered as a play-along activity, but with the separate parts, each individual must maintain their importance in the process and interact as in a complex chamber music piece.

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Alfredo Rolando Ortiz
is an internationally acclaimed harpist and composer who has performed in Europe, Japan, Australia and North, Central and South America. He has recorded more than thirty albums. His schools presentation World Adventures With A Harp details his adventures of migration, hardship and success, including his birth in Cuba and his travel to Venezuela as a child, where he learned the Venezuelan folk harp from a school friend. He then learned the Paraguayan harp and immigrated to Colombia, where, thanks to his music, he became a medical doctor. As a composer, his dazzling glissandi and pizzicatos make his music rich in orchestral colors ...

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Venezolana

This piece premiered at the 1992 National Conference of the American Harp Society, has been performed (twice!) by a ten pedal harp ensemble at the Soka International Harp Festival in Japan, and by several pedal harp ensembles in Europe. Dr. Ortiz writes "The ostinatos, repetitive patterns and syncopations, are typical of the tonada, a popular harp music genre from the plains of Venezuela. Using the pedals for unique sonorities and one modulation, I tried to preserve the feeling of the traditional while creating new textures and musical landscapes."



program | SHE | Alice Giles | composers' bios | reviews | top
2006 Kioloa Harp Ensemble concert in Kangaroo Valley

Ingrid Bauer

Lily Dixon

Alice Giles

Genevieve Lang

Hilary Manning

Tegan Peemoeller

Laura Tanata

photos from video shot by Michael Moore and Belinda Webster


Charming Concert by the Kioloa Harp Ensemble

The Kangaroo Valley Voice, March 2006

... what a magnificent concert it was! For a start, it looked wonderful. Peter Stanton, with fishing line, halogen lamps and great ingenuity, devised a lighting rig that delivered visual magic: as people entered they saw, on a low stage erected on the side of Kangaroo Valley Hall, seven majestic harps, each beautifully lit by a halogen star suspended above it. At the beginning of the second half, a gossamer screen, rigged by Paul Turnock, rose mysteriously from the floor to serve as a projection screen bearing images of flowers through which one could see the harpists playing. The sound? Not quite seven times better than a solo harp, but almost. The ensemble's repertoire was a well-constructed mix of music from the 16th century (an anonymous Pavane) to four pieces finished only weeks before the concert (by Australian composers Ross Edwards, Andrew Schultz, Larry Sitsky and (Martin Wesley-Smith)). It included music by Bach, Debussy and Mendelssohn and finished with a couple of spectacular South American pieces (by Ernesto Lecuona and Carlos Salzedo). Alice gave a lucid explanation of the history of the harp and how it is constructed. The playing? Generally excellent, with, at times, effortless virtuosity. All in all, it's difficult to imagine a more delightful musical evening. If this is what it's like in Heaven, I'm going to clean up my act and repent!

At 7.30pm on Friday March 17, the ensemble will repeat this program at the Goulburn Conservatorium of Music - well worth the trip! The next day, at 3.30pm, they will play at a festival in Narranderra. We're already talking about another concert in Kangaroo Valley next January.

Apart from $200 which the ensemble generously donated to the Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership to help fund scholarships for East Timorese students, all the proceeds from this concert went towards travelling expenses for the ensemble to perform at the American Harp Congress later this year. Australian music and musicians to the world! One wonders, however, what the Americans will think of the ensemble's name. Kioloa? That will immediately become Koala. I think a new name is needed, either something McCall-Smithesque, such as "The Koala Ladies Auxiliary Harp Ensemble", or something more snappy, like "Pluck". No, there's already a group called that. And no, Stan, "Mother Pluckers" is not acceptable. "Harpers' Bazaar"? If anyone has any suggestions, call me on 44 651 299 and I'll pass them on.

One of the things that impresses me most about this ensemble is that it serves as a vehicle for the experienced professional members (Alice and Genevieve) to pass on their skills and musicianship to their younger colleagues (Ingrid Bauer, 15-year-old Lily Dixon, Hilary Manning, Tegan Peemoeller and Laura Tanata). There should be no shortage of quality Australian harpists well into the future.

a contribution by arcadiagt5 to Lympago Forums, 9.18am June 28 2006:

I went to a performance of this ensemble last night - seven harps played ensemble by Alice Giles, Laura Tanata, Ingrid Bauer, Tegan Peemoeller, Lily Dixon, Hilary Manning & Genevieve Lang. A highlight was the four pieces specifically commissioned for the ensemble written by Australian composers. These pieces took full advantage of capabilities of the harps and were just superb. And hey, how often do you get to see seven full-size harps in one place? This was just so cool!


Kangaroo Valley Hall, Kangaroo Valley, 7.30pm, Sunday Jan 27 2008

for more information, e-mail Martin Wesley-Smith or call him on 4465 1299

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members of The Choir That Dare Not Speak Its Name:

Liz Aitken, Nell Britton, Jeremy Butterworth, Janette Carter, Peter Dalmazzo, Robert Farnham, Karen Harrison, Anna Hernell, Alexandra Holliday, Teresa Keyzer, Peter Morgan, Erica Nielsen, Patsy Radic, Barry Spooner, Judy Spooner, Peter Stanton, Roger Stebbings, Ken Wade, Peter Wesley-Smith; conductor: Martin Wesley-Smith

soloists: Robert Farnham, Patsy Radic

This much-loved local institution has been together for about three weeks. Most of its membership has been drawn from the Courthouse Choir, a group that rehearses in Berry under the auspices of the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music and the baton of Carlos Alvarado.


concert organised by Martin Wesley-Smith and Peter Wesley-Smith with assistance from many music-loving local residents, including, amongst others, Janette Carter, Helen George, John George, Terry Hennessy, Diana Jaffray, Michael Moore, Louise Morgan, Peter Morgan, Chris Nobel, Sue Prescott, Patsy Radic, Peter Stanton, Rosemary Stanton, Libby Turnock & Paul Turnock

special thanks to Nigel Lewis, Derek Lucas, Jane Mathews and the lovely ladies at the Kangaroo Valley Supermarket


After the event (February 3 2008): A great success! The hall was packed, the performances were excellent, the response of the audience was warm and enthusiastic, a delicious supper was served at interval ... in short, a very special concert.

The February 2008 edition of local rag The Kangaroo Valley Voice contains the following review by Anne Glading (edited a bit to correct a few errors, typos etc):

Heavenly performance by seven harps in harmony


left to right: Hilary Manning, Lily Dixon, Laura Tanata,
Tegan Peemoeller, Alice Giles, Genevieve Lang & Ingrid Bauer in Kangaroo Valley
photo: Roberta McGregor

Formerly known as the the Kioloa Harp Ensemble, SHE stands for Seven Harp Ensemble and all the members just happen to be females! Kangaroo Valley music lovers have eagerly awaited this group's return after their concert two years ago.
Needless to say, the concert was sold out and tickets couldn't be secured for love nor money! A fitting testament to this group's superb talent.
Led by Alice Giles, SHE (comprising Genevieve Lang, Hilary Manning, Lily Dixon, Ingrid Bauer, Laura Tanata and Tegan Peemoeller), offered up a varied menu, with works by Dandrieu, Martini and Debussy. All of these were arranged by harpist and teacher Carlos Salzedo (1885-1961).
In Debussy's Clair de Lune, more colour contrasts were attained as the rich tapestries of the French music (were) realised. Great flourishes of glissandi were used at the penultimate section, as only harps can do so well, closing the main melody with delicate harmonics prior to the coda.
The first of the evening's two world premieres was written by Sydney film, choral and harp composer Sharon Calcraft. Sevenfold Amen was written for this group especially, the number seven being very symbolic. The music represented the sound of cicadas in the Sydney summer and their special buzz, obtained by a sort of thwacking sound, buzzing strings, a tiny violin bow used to scrape against the strings, as well as rhythmic knocking on the wooden casing of the harp.
After interval, a piece Bolmimerie by Carlos Salzedo used images projected upon a cloth screen that began as one thing and slowly morphed into something else entirely. The music had a carnival atmosphere and even contained a fugue at one point.
The second of the world premieres was by Australian composer Martin Wesley-Smith, called Seven Widows at the Gates of Sugamo. Seven Japanese widows bewail the fate of their husbands being tried for war crimes before a tribunal. Tojo, beyond the grave, replies in anger and sorrow to his wife Katsuko Ito. Harpist Tegan Peemoeller produced a pure soprano as Katsuko and Robert Farnham provided a rich-timbered Tojo. The Choir That Dare Not Speak Its Name provided harmonic strength and colour, closing the work.
Wesley-Smith's work contained a meditative ambience at times and successfully represents the story. Likewise, his arrangement of Gabriella's Song from the film As It Is In Heaven performed by the choir with soloist Patsy Radic and harps, was full of emotion. Patsy's easy alto voice glided well over the phrases and the choir's sound rose well above the seven harps.
An exciting concert to witness: it certainly shook any preconceived ideas I may have had about the gracious and sweet-sounding harp. This concert showed a more meaty and percussive side to the instrument without losing any of the beauty, and the performers showed their enjoyment too.
If I had to sum the concert up in one word, it would be Charming! Let's not leave it another two years before we hear this wonderful ensemble again.


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