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22 June 2011

2011 Australian Clarinet and Saxophone Festival

2011 Australian Clarinet and Saxophone Festival

Melbourne in winter is not typically a destination that would draw people from around the country. This will change early next month when Melbourne hosts the 2011 Australian Clarinet and Saxophone Festival (3-6 July), attracting single reeds players from around Australia and a sizable contingent from overseas. With the last such festival held five years ago, Ian Morgan, the president of Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Victoria (Clasax) and director of the festival, believed it was time that the clarinet and saxophone playing community were brought together again. Despite the size of the task being undertaken by a small organisation such as Clasax, Ian was encouraged by the enthusiasm that greeted him when he started to discuss hosting another festival. He kept talking, and it all started to happen!

Finding an appropriate venue for a venture like this could have proved problematic but the festival was fortunate to have secured valued support from the University of Melbourne, especially the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and the Melbourne Recital Centre. These venues are centrally accessible, very close to accommodation and provide opportunities for us to have spaces suited to the differing needs of recitals, master classes, discussions and our enthusiastic traders, all within easy access of the CBD (and Melbourne's great coffee).

It has been thrilling to see the amazing diversity of performers who will be featured in this festival. In addition to our international guests, Australian artists from around the country will be heard, with some specifically flying back from overseas to be involved. The repertoire is equally exciting. The days of a festival such as this being almost exclusively embedded in the musical heritage of the clarinet and saxophone, with copious amounts of Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, Bozza, Milhaud and Creston, are over. While a number of the important heritage works will be heard at the festival, compositions from Australian composers make up the lion's share of works to be performed in the festival. These works include the premieres of pieces by Katia Beaugeais, Kirsty Beilharz, Barry Cockcroft, Don Kay and Tim Dargaville.

The festival has also inspired the creation of new works composed specifically for performances at this event, including Julian Yu's Kabalevsky Novellete and Karlin Greenstreet Love's Fantasy on Grey Rocks, Grey Sea: a Chordwainers shanty. Additionally the festival committee and Clasax decided to use this event to make a direct contribution to the clarinet repertoire, commissioning Andrew Schultz to compose a work for the '30 and under' clarinet competition. Andrew composed Night Birds, which he describes as two contrasting pieces - both a little like bird song perhaps heard at night, with the first a somewhat desolate and moody character and the second boisterous and playful.

The competitors in the '30 and under' saxophone competition also have a set Australian work, Stuart Greenbaum's Night Drive. Both of these works are proving immensely popular with the competitors while also proving an admirable challenge in their quest to win $1000. Our international visitors, including American saxophonist Noah Getz, are embracing Australian composers. Noah has chosen to perform Riesenschritte for alto saxophone and piano in the Tuesday night Saxophone Gala Concert, a piece he commissioned from the Melbourne composer Andrián Pertout.

With so much great music happening we hope to see many of you in Melbourne in the first week of July.

Further links

Event and work information (AMC Calendar)
Festival program (www.clasax.org/festival/program/)
Artist information and registrations (www.clasax.org/festival/)


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