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23 May 2016

Australia Piano Quartet at the Sydney Opera House

Australia Piano Quartet Image: Australia Piano Quartet  

The Australia Piano Quartet (Daniel de Borah, piano; Thomas Rann, cello; Rebecca Chan, violin; James Wannan, viola) will be performing in the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House from June to November in four performances, each featuring a new Australian work. Co-artistic director Thomas Rann writes about the four new works in the Quartet's 2016 season.

Having created an ensemble residency at the University of Technology, Sydney in early 2012, we seized our opportunity to focus on the great repertory of established chamber works, while at the same time using the UTS platform to both develop new commissions and explore neglected masterpieces.

Australia Piano Quartet has to date commissioned 20 composers to create works for the quartet. Many of these have been performed throughout Australia, the UK and France. The new work we have commissioned and developed at UTS is given a public spotlight in the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House, as a culmination of the residency. The composers for these new works, and featured guest artists, represent a broad range of talent from across the country - in some cases they have been colleagues of the individual quartet members for many years.

We open our 2016 season on 12 June with Liebestod. We are incredibly excited to bring to light Perth-based Lachlan Skipworth's new work, Polychronic, which has been developed in collaboration with the UTS Animation department and will be presented as part of Vivid at Central Park. Lachlan has a distinctive voice and enquiring musical mind, exploring a wide palette of colours drawn from his many influences, which include contemporary life in Australia, as well as the complex mix of ancient and futuristic elements found in Japanese culture. This work will sit beautifully in a program highlighting the eternal themes of love and death, as epitomised by Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and also the Schumann Piano Quintet, which will feature our first Emerging Artist, award-winning violinist Anna Da Silva Chen.

On 16 July, Senses and Sensibilities takes the traditional model of commissioning emerging or established composers to create a new work - sometimes with a brief or theme in mind - and turns it on its head by creating a composition from within the ensemble. A new work Whispering Pectoriloquy, by the violinist and medical doctor Rebecca Chan, will demonstrate the power of technology and art in enabling Jess Irwin, an inspirational young woman living with cerebral palsy, to take part in a musical performance at the Opera House and expand her creative and expressive horizons. Developed together with dynamic inventor Dr Jordan Nguyen, a speaker at the upcoming TEDx Sydney, this will be a powerful and celebratory performance.

On 22 October we will present Schubert's masterpiece, The Trout, featuring Emerging Artist Muhamed Mehmedbasic on double bass. Earlier this year, APQ commissioned Brisbane-based composer and clarinettist Paul Dean to write a work for us that reflects themes of sustainability within the Australian environment. The resulting song-cycle for voice and piano quartet, Generations, evokes a captivating atmosphere that is heightened by Paul's setting of three moving poems by John Donne, Judith Wright and Rodney Hall. This work showcases the guest tenor, Andrew Goodwin, a long-time associate of APQ pianist Daniel de Borah, dating back to their studies together at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Russia.

On 26 November Elliott Gyger, an eminent Melbourne-based composer, will demonstrate his extraordinary musical mind in the second instalment of his large-scale work Shell Chambers. Sitting alongside Mozart and Fauré in the concert program, this work is a kaleidoscopic exploration of the nature of musical form and structure, as reflected in the world of architecture, here performed in the apt setting of Jorn Utzon's only completed interior at the Sydney Opera House.

For APQ, it is essential to incorporate a strong Australian focus in all our programs, providing a fresh perspective on the canonic piano quartet works performed. As a young Australian group presented by the Sydney Opera House, APQ feels it is our duty to showcase the best Australian compositional, instrumental and vocal talent in what is the most recognisable international icon in Australia. It's a real honour to perform these programs for our local audiences, as well as many international visitors. We will also be able to fly the flag for Australian culture later this year at the Wigmore Hall, London and in a series of performances across the UK, France and China.

Event details (AMC Calendar)

12 June Liebestod (Skipworth, Wagner, Schumann)

16 July Senses and sensibilities (Chan, Mozart, Strauss)

22 October Trout (Dean, Strauss, Schubert)

26 November Shell Chambers (Gyger, Mozart, Fauré)

See also: information about APQ's concerts on the Sydney Opera House website.

Further links

Australia Piano Quartet - homepage (www.australiapianoquartet.com)

Facebook: Australia Piano Quartet

Twitter: @AustPianoQt


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