Category Archives: Concerts

Upcoming Concerts

Spike Mason ‘Flying’ CD Launch

Halfway through last year it was our absolute pleasure to collaborate with jazz musician (saxophones) and composer Spike Mason on his CD project, ‘FLYING’. We are really excited to share that we are launching the CD on Friday 2nd November, 8.00 pm at The Coote Theatre, Scots College, Bellevue Hill.

‘Flying’ was inspired by a poem, written by the Tasmanian poet Di Adams, about someone waking up and realising that they can FLY! Originally from Sydney, now based in Tasmania, Spike composed this work while flying back and forth to work each week in Sydney. The composition is a sublime combination of composed music for chamber ensemble with interweaving improvised melodies played by Spike. Each movement portrays the changing landscape that one might see from flying high above. A talented and respected jazz musician in his own right, it was a first for Spike to write music down for a “classical” chamber ensemble. But what he has been able to achieve is a work of beauty with layers of sound and ethereal harmonies.

Spike was fortunate to receive a grant from Arts Tasmania to fund the recording project. But we need some help to cover the production costs. You can support Spike through his crowdfunding page at Pozible. You can hear more from Spike about his inspiration for this project, on his CrowdFunding Video below.

We really hope that you might be able to support Spike in recognition of local creative artists collaborating on a truly amazing work. There are lots of different pledge options available, including MP3 copies of ‘FLYING’ and tickets to attend the launch of the CD to hear this wonderful project live.

We also thank our amazing musicians that play with us. Ensemble musicians involved in this recording include Ian Sykes (clarinet), Melissa Coleman (flute), Alex Fontaine (oboe), Alison Evans (bassoon), Gareth Lewis (trombone), Vanessa Tammetta (violin), Luke Spicer (viola), Steve Meyer (cello) and Claire Howard Race (piano).

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Meet the Composer – Houston Dunleavy

In our upcoming Meet the Composer concert, we will feature two Melbourne based composers, Eve Duncan and Dr Houston Dunleavy. In this post Houston discusses each of his compositions selected for this programme.

dunleavycolour_resize

Houston Dunleavy holds a PhD in composition from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a Master of Music in composition and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music.  He has held positions in Composition at the University of Wollongong, the Australian Institute of Music (Head of Composition and Production) and The Australian National University. His music has been performed in many countries and he has been guest artist as composer or conductor at over 30 Universities and international festivals. He has conducted over 40 operas and music theatre works, including new works, and has conducted a wide range of choral and instrumental works. In addition to being Academic Director of The Australian Guild of Music Education, he performs with his group “Third Rail”, is Artistic Director of The Southern Cross Philharmonia Orchestra, and Director of Music at St. Oswald’s Anglican Church, Glen Iris, Victoria.

Sideling Hill for flute and piano*

“This little piece came out of a visit to a place, a few kilometres west of Hancock. Maryland, USA (in the Maryland panhandle). Here a ridge has been cut through to make way for Interstate 68. Because all of the surrounding rock was more easily eroded, Sideling hill is a topographical inversion, and a great outdoor classroom for the student of geology. For a visitor like me, it was almost like a sculpture, full of beautiful flowing lines. So, this piece tries to illustrate these beautiful lines not only melodically, but over other parameters too, like harmonic and textural changes, rhythmic complexity and register. At the same time, I hope I’ve created a coherent piece of music!”

Mourning Song and Morning Dance for violin, cello and piano*

“Song and Dance for violin, cello and piano is in two movements. The first, “Mourning Song”, recalls the scene from the first part of Cervantes’s story where Don Quixote witnesses the funeral of a student who dies as a result of his love for a disdainful lady turned shepherdess. This music, both played and sung, tries to evoke the sadness of the occasion, but also, because of the alien sounds of the human voice and the plucked piano strings, also tries to emphasise the alien nature of Don Quixote himself.”

 “The second movement, “Morning Dance”, represents the joyful, although a little clumsy, dance of the knight errant as he leaves on the first morning of his first adventure and foreshadows the demise that must be his in his first battle. The crashes of steel and wood are portrayed in the heavy, accented music, while the awkward dance rhythms and metres accentuate Don Quixote’s ungainly horse and equipment.”

Fireball for clarinet and piano*

“I was a professional clarinettist until the age of 24, when a serious injury to my left hand put that life out of my reach. Since then, as a composer, I’ve resisted writing the standard “clarinet and piano” work because there have been so many good ones already written, and because I knew all the pitfalls one can fall into when writing for this beast. So, it took a long time for me to work up the courage to compose this piece, and, when I did, I seem to have made it one of the most difficult pieces in the repertoire! Everything is based on the leaping motives in the clarinet, and the step-by-step runs in the piano. For a little variation, the clarinet fills in some of the leaps by glissandi, and performs some trills that are not quite those that are found in text books.”

*Première performances

 

Meet the Composer Concert

When: Saturday 23rd June 2018, 6:00 pm

Where: Christ Church Lavender Bay, corner of Walker and Lavender Streets, Lavender Bay, NSW.

Tickets: $30 Adults, $20 Concession, $10 Child available at https://www.trybooking.com/ULQY or at the door.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Meet the Composer – Eve Duncan

Our annual Meet the Composer concerts have become increasingly popular as an informal way to hear new music and to learn from the composers themselves about what influences their music. This year, Sirius Chamber Ensemble are delighted to have Melbourne-based composers, Eve Duncan and Dr Houston Dunleavy to discuss their work alongside performances of a selection of their compositions. In this post, we introduce Eve Duncan and her compositions selected for this programme.

ED Composer

Eve Duncan has won distinguished awards, including the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition (Greece), Recital Music Double Bass Composition Competition (England) and the International Modern Music Award for Composition (Vienna). She received her Doctor of Creative Arts (Western Sydney University) with Bruce Crossman and Clare MacLean, Masters in Music (University of Melbourne) with Brenton Broadstock, and Honours in Music Composition (Latrobe University) with Anthony Briggs.

Sirius Chamber Ensemble previously premiered a new arrangement of Eve Duncan’s Madonna and Child with Goldfinch (2008) for soprano, flute, clarinet, violin and cello in 2015, as part of a programme of music by Sydney composer Alan Holley. Based on a poem by David Malouf, Madonna and Child with Goldfinch, and inspired by the Italian, Renaissance painting, portends an apocalyptic future, saturated with media melancholia and global warming. Words that reverberate still ten years on. The sublime soprano, Taryn Srhoj returns to Sirius for this performance.

Aer Turas (Air Journey) for flute, clarinet and cello depicts the distinctiveness of air experienced in different landscapes from Asia and America to Australia. For Eve, travelling gave her “distinctly uplifting experiences of air in mountains and deserts, that has remained as a fresh experience over time.” 

Composed in 1999, Little Botanicus for clarinet, cello and piano was written in celebration of the first-born daughter of cellist Penny Veldman. Of the work Eve describes it as, “a sketch of the emergence of a rose, through light and sound ether, condensing to warmth, then further condensing to warmth, air, water and solid matter.”

The Submerging City for cello and piano was written in 2007 following a typical Melbourne, summer heatwave and eventual cool change. Inspired by a painting of a city landscape submerged in water by Melbourne artist Jon Cattapan, Eve composed this musical reverie, “where drops of rain after summer heat lead to a fantasy of a living city underwater; oblivious to its having being drowned.”

Alexander’s Elements for flute, clarinet and bassoon is inspired by Alexander the Great. Through his travels he introduced the Hellenic teachings to Egypt and India, including aspects of the elements in relation to the human. For example, the elements within man include earth in bones, fire and water in the heart, blood circulation and other bodily fluids, and air in breathing.

In our next post, we will introduce Dr Houston Dunleavy and his selection of music for this programme.

Meet the Composer Concert

When: Saturday 23rdJune 2018, 6:00 pm

Where: Christ Church Lavender Bay, corner of Walker and Lavender Streets, Lavender Bay, NSW.

Tickets: $30 Adults, $20 Concession, $10 Child available at https://www.trybooking.com/ULQY or at the door.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Brahms’ Horn Trio Op. 40

Contrary to a previously advertised post about the Brahms’ Horn Trio, Op. 40, we would like to inform a change in soloist for this performance. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Michael Wray is unable to perform with Sirius Chamber Ensemble, however, we are delighted to announce the performance will be given by SSO fellow horn player, Aidan Gabriels.

Aidan Gabriels

Aidan Gabriels Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellowship

Perth-born Aidan Gabriels comes from a family of four, all of whom began playing violin at a young age. He studied violin from the age of five and at ten he received a scholarship to begin studying French horn at John XXIII College. He has since studied with some of Australia’s leading horn players, including Robert Gladstones, Peter Luff, Ysolt Clarke and Ben Jacks.

In 2012 Aidan began a Bachelor of Music degree at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (studying with Robert Gladstones). In 2014 he moved to Brisbane, where he continued his degree, and in 2017 he joined the Australian National Academy of Music program in Melbourne.

Aidan has played with a number of Australian orchestras, including the West Australian, Queensland and Melbourne symphony orchestras and the Camerata of St Johns Chamber Orchestra. A long-term member of the Australian Youth Orchestra, in 2016 he toured with the orchestra to Europe and China, performing in some of the world’s most renowned concert venues.

Aidan Gabriels will perform the Brahms’ Horn Trio, Op. 40 with Angela Cassar (violin) and Benjamin Burton (piano) as part of our Songs My Mother Taught Me concert on Saturday 12th May, 6.00 pm at Christ Church Lavender Bay. Tickets available from www.trybooking.com/ULQX or at the door.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Songs My Mother Taught Me

Antonín Dvořák is arguably the second most notable composer from the Czech Republic, after Bedřich Smetana, to reach worldwide acclaim. Both are well-known for their nationalist style and employment of folk music in their compositions.

mother-daughter-love-sunset-51953

Originally written for voice and piano in 1880, “Songs my mother taught me” is the fourth song from Gypsy Songs, B.104, Op. 55. It has become one of the most popular and often performed songs from the seven-song cycle. Such is the popularity of the song that in addition to being frequently recorded by a number of well-known singers, there have been numerous instrumental arrangements regularly performed and recorded by musicians including Fritz Kreisler, Julian Lloyd Webber, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell. Given the cello’s naturally lyrical and emotive qualities it is particularly well suited to take on the vocal line in the song.

The Gypsy Songs were composed around the same time as Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances (1878-1886). The original version for piano 4-hands, sold well, and the series of 16 orchestral pieces (Op. 46 and Op72) raised Dvorak’s international reputation. “Songs My Mother Taught Me” demonstrates all of Dvorak’s supreme talent for combining nationalistic folk influences with romantic, lyrical melodies.

While the poems that provide the lyrics for the song cycle were originally written in Czech, and translated into German for the song settings, English versions of the lyrics are also sometimes performed. The performance translation of the lyrics for Songs My Mother Taught Me are as follows:

Songs my mother taught me, in the days long vanished;

Seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.

Now I teach my children each melodious measure.

Oft the tears are flowing, oft they flow from my memory’s treasure.

This work will be performed by Clare Kahn (cello) and Benjamin Burton (piano) as part of our Songs My Mother Taught Me concert on Saturday 12 May, 6.00 pm at Christ Church Lavender Bay. Tickets are available at www.trybooking.com/ULQX or at the door.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Graeme Koehne Time is a River

Fitting our program featuring music dedications to mothers, is the chamber work Time is a River by Graeme Koehne. Written in 2010, this work for clarinet and string quartet is a moving tribute to his mother.

Graeme Koehne (b. 1956) is Professor of Composition at the University of Adelaide. He has been recognised for his contribution to Australian music with prestigious awards, including the Australian Government’s Centenary Medal (2001) and the Sir Bernard Heinze Award from the University of Melbourne (2004). He has long been a popular Australian composer with his repertoire for orchestra especially, having been performed world-wide.

A popular metaphor, ‘Time is like a river’, has inspired songwriters, authors and philosophers of old. As the quote goes, “Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life.” 

Of his work Koehne described, “The string quartet is the ‘river’ pursuing its relentless course, by turns gentle, swirling, turbulent and free-flowing. The clarinet represents some form of persona – a soul, if you like – that is carried along by the flow of the strings, pursuing its own diverse range of characters: melancholic, reflective, playful, ecstatic, capricious, finally reaching a state of acquiescence or acceptance.”

Koehne also arranged Time is a River for solo clarinet and orchestra, which is featured on the CD Time is a River recorded by Paul Dean (clarinet) and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (ABC Classics, 2015). The work was commissioned by Anne ArcusTerrey Arcus for performance by Musica Viva Australia.

This work will be performed by Ian Sykes (clarinet), Vanessa Tammetta and Sonia Wilson (violins), Lucy Carrigy-Ryan (viola) and Clare Kahn (cello) as part of our Songs My Mother Taught Me concert on Saturday 12 May6.00 pm at Christ Church Lavender Bay. Tickets available at www.trybooking.com/ULQX or at the door.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Becky Llewellyn Berceuse

Along with our theme of dedications and mothers, Becky Llewellyn’s quartet, Berceuse, offers an intimate lullaby of reflection, a glimpse of a moment shared between mother and child.

Becky Llewellyn (b. 1950) grew up in Minnesota and migrated to Australia in 1969. She began composing in the mid-1980s and studied composition with Graeme Koehne at the Adelaide Elder School of Music.  As well as her composing career, Llewellyn was a special education teacher and disability access consultant. Her works for chamber ensemble, orchestra, choir, and solo instruments have been performed widely in Australia, the US and UK.

pexels-photo-748626

Berceuse, or lullaby, was composed by Llewellyn in 1989 when her grandson was born. The inspiration also came from Llewellyn’s memories of herself nursing her own children whilst watching the moon setting over the sea. The quartet is scored for clarinet, violin or viola, cello and piano. The work evokes a sense of calm rocking – the ebb and flow of the tide against the beach. Llewellyn has paired 3-8 and 4-8 time signatures to create the sense of an irregular wave pattern. The lullaby melodies are set to a simple circle of fifths progression and sparse texture to allow the four voices to come through individually – rising and falling.

Berceuse, and other works composed by Llewellyn in the 1990s, feature on the CD Milerum’s Basket(Move Records, 2002). Berceusewas commissioned by Grahame Dudley for performance by Lights New Music Ensemble, who premiered the work on 20 July 1990 at Little Theatre, Adelaide University.

This work will be performed by Ian Sykes (clarinet), Lucy Carrigy-Ryan (viola), Clare Kahn (cello) and Benjamin Burton (piano) as part of our Songs My Mother Taught Me concert on Saturday 12 May, 6.00 pm at Christ Church Lavender Bay.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Brahms’ Horn Trio, Op. 40

Our concert coming up on Saturday 12 May, features music by composers depicting their relationships with their Mothers. We also welcome back French horn player Michael Wray as guest soloist performing the Brahms’ Horn Trio in E flat major, Op. 40. Michael has performed as Principal Horn with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra in China and now regularly plays with the Australian Ballet and Opera Orchestra as well as other theatre productions. Michael also tutors French horn privately, with Sydney Youth Orchestra and the NSW Public School’s Arts Unit Ensembles.

The Trio for horn, violin and piano, Op. 40 was composed by Brahms in 1865 in dedication to his mother Christiane who passed away earlier in that year. Despite the fact that the valve horn was becoming increasingly popular at this time, Brahms wrote the score for natural horn. It is suspected he chose this instrument in tribute to his childhood memories of his mother – he also learnt the natural horn as a child. Indeed, he may have preferred the timbre of the natural horn for its sombre and melancholic qualities and its relation to hunting and nature.

There are two unusual features to the compositional structure of the trio. As a departure from the typical Classical style Brahms is known for, in this work he adopts a slow, fast, slow, fast order of movements, instead of the usual fast, slow, fast, fast. Brahms also abandons using sonata form for the first movement, preferring a simplified structure containing three slow sections interposed with two rhapsodic sections. It was said that, the opening theme to the first, Andante,movement came to Brahms on one of his many walks in the woods.

The theme of nature is recalled again with hunting calls used in the second, Scherzo Allegro,movement and final, Allegro con brio, movement. Both second and fourth movements, being livelier in tempo also suggests the lighter side of grief and of happier memories. The third movement, Adagio mesto, is the most solemn and contemplative movements of the work. Brahms quotes a popular German funeral chorale “Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten”, used most notably in J.S Bach’s Cantata BWV 93. Brahms also used this theme in his German Requiem, composed between 1865 and 1868. The hymn is a song of consolation, dealing with trust in God. Although considered an agnostic, Brahms’ quotation of the popular hymn may not come from devotion but rather his own contemplation and heartfelt relief from mourning.

You can listen to this in the recording below of Daniel Barenboim (piano), Itzhak Perlman (violin) and Dale Clevenger (horn). Forward to 2.00′ to hear the sublime melody taken from “Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten”.

 

Songs My Mother Taught Me

When: Saturday 12thMay 2018, 6:00pm

Where: Christ Church Lavender Bay

Tickets: $30 Adults, $20 Concession, $10 Child – Available at www.trybooking.com or at the door

1 Comment

Filed under Concerts

2018 Concert Program

Is anyone else surprised that it’s March already! Well, I’m looking forward to Autumn, the best season of the year, and to planning for our next concerts. The Sirius Chamber Ensemble program for 2018 includes a concert dedicated to Mothers; a concert showcasing the compositions of Melbourne-based composers Eve Duncan and Dr Houston Dunleavy; and an all-Australian program of compositions inspired by the Elements. We will also be launching Flying, a CD featuring the music of jazz saxophonist and composer Spike Mason. More information available later in the year.

Songs My Mother Taught Me

Sirius Chamber Ensemble will present a special concert program dedicated to mothers. Each work performed explores different relationships experienced between mother and child. In Berceuse for clarinet, violin, cello and piano by Becky Llewellyn, we catch a glimpse of the unique bond between a mother and newborn child. Many compositions dedicated to mothers often express love but also grief, which is seen in works by Graeme Koehne and Johannes Brahms. Koehne’s Time is a River, written in 2010, is a moving tribute depicted by the melancholic sound of a clarinet drifting down a flowing river of a string quartet. A deeply personal composition, Brahms’ Horn Trio in E-flat major was written after the death of his mother in 1865. In this four-movement work Brahms portrays the different stages of mourning – not only grief and sadness – but as time inevitably passes, love and acceptance follows. Originally written for voice and piano in 1880, “Songs my mother taught me” by Antonin Dvorak has been transcribed for many instrumental combinations. One of the more popular songs from Dvorak’s Gypsy Songs and often recorded, will be performed by cello and piano as a short tribute to all who hold special childhood memories.

Program:

  • Becky Llewellyn – Berceuse for clarinet, viola, cello and piano
  • Antonin Dvorak – Songs my Mother Taught Me (arr.) for cello and piano
  • Graeme Koehne – Time Is A River for clarinet and string quartet
  • Johannes Brahms – Horn Trio in E-flat major, Op. 40 for horn, violin and piano

When: Saturday 12th May 2018, 6:00pm

Where: Christ Church Lavender Bay

Tickets: $30 Adults, $20 Concession, $10 Child – Available at www.trybooking.com/ULQX or at the door

 

Meet the Composer

Our meet the composer concerts have become increasingly popular. In June, we have the absolute pleasure of inviting Melbourne-based composers, Eve Duncan and Dr Houston Dunleavy to discuss their work alongside performances of a selection of their compositions.

When: Saturday 23rd June 2018, 6:00pm

Where: Christ Church Lavender Bay

Tickets: $30 Adults, $20 Concession, $10 Child – Available at www.trybooking.com/ULQY or at the door

 

Enquires: sirius.ensemble@gmail.com

Facebook: facebook.com/siriuschamberensemble

Instagram: instagram.com/siriuschamberensemble

4 Comments

Filed under Concerts

A Gypsy Rondo and a Ragtime Opera

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) may have been a celebrated composer in Europe during his lifetime, but he did not always enjoy a privileged life. From 1740-1749 Haydn was a choir boy at the St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, until a foolish prank resulted in him being dismissed from his employment and home. By this time, Haydn’s voice was maturing and he could no longer sing the high choral parts. But when Haydn foolishly snipped off the pigtail from one of his fellow choristers, he was severely punished and thrown out onto the streets. Fortunately, a friend took him in to stay and thereafter Haydn pursued his freelance career.

schroeter_rebecca-210

Rebecca Schroeter

Haydn was most known for his developments to Classical form and chamber music compositions such as the Piano Trio. The Piano Trio No 39, in G major (1795) was written during an auspicious time for Haydn, when we experienced great success with two tours to London – the last two London Symphonies (No. 103 and 104) were also written during this time. Piano Trio No 39 was nicknamed the Gypsy trio, as the third movement was written in an Hungarian style. The work was one of a set of three trios, dedicated to Rebecca Schroeter, an amateur musician and widow, whom Haydn met in London. It has been reported, the pair had a romance during Haydn’s visits.

We are delighted to have, guest string instrumentalists Angela Cassar (violin) and Steve Meyer (cello) join Claire Howard Race (piano) for this performance.

African-American composer Scott Joplin (1868-1917), was known as the father of Ragtime composition with its characteristic off-the-beat rhythm, based on African-American gospel and folk tunes.  Joplin wrote 44 rag pieces for piano as well as one Ragtime ballet and two operas. The second opera, Treemonisha was written during 1911-1915 while Joplin lived and worked in New York. Unfortunately, the opera failed to secure financial banking and with failing health, Joplin did not live to see a full production of this opera.

During the 1970s Ragtime revival, Gunther Schiller arranged and directed a full professional production by the Houston Grand Opera in 1975. One can hear the once-popular ragged rhythm and jubilant choral singing in Schuller’s production recorded in 1975 [DG recording].

treemonisha

Carmen Balthrop in the full stage production of Treemonisha at Houston Grand Opera

In this program, Alex Fontaine (oboe) and Michael Wray (French horn) join Ian Sykes (clarinet), Melissa Coleman (flute) and Alison Evans (bassoon) to perform Five Scenes from Treemonisha for wind quintet (arr. Graham Bastable).

Read the Q and A with Melissa Coleman on the Where the Heart Is program at ClassikON.com

Where the Heart Is – Saturday 21st October, 6:00 pm at Christ Church Lavender Bay, 10-12 Walker St, Lavender Bay. Tickets available through ClassikON.com or at the door.  

Funds raised will be donated to Habitat for Humanity Australia to assist their work to build safer homes and stronger communities throughout the Asia Pacific region.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts