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31 August 2015

Australian music on ABC Classic FM in September 2015

Australian music on ABC Classic FM in September 2015

Two very different awarded and acclaimed Australian orchestral works get new performances this month. Brett Dean's trumpet concerto Dramatis personae, winner of the Best Orchestral Work category at the Australian Art Music Awards last month, received yet another European performance with the work's dedicatee trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger at the BBC Proms, featuring in ABC Classic FM's Proms broadcasts on Saturday 5 September at 8pm alongside Mahler's 6th. And live to air from the Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday 18 September you can hear Simone Young lead the Australian National Academy of Music orchestra in the first Australian performance for some years of Paul Stanhope's Fantasia on a theme by Vaughan Williams - the composition which won this composer the coveted Toru Takemitsu composition prize in 2004.

There's also chamber music from both composers in the September broadcast schedule - the world premiere of Nephesh for double string quartet by Stanhope for the Australian Octet, a subsidiary group of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra (Monday 21 September at 8pm), and another chance to catch Brett Dean's popular viola solo Sketches for Siegbert in the hands of the composer himself in a concert alongside brother clarinettist Paul Dean and international Australian pianist Lisa Moore (Thursday 24 September at 9.30pm).

Other highlights of Australian chamber music on air this month include Plexus performing five vocal chamber premieres including Australian composers Gerard Brophy, Robert Davidson, Larry Sitsky and Julian Yu; Melbourne's new Inventi Ensemble giving the world premiere of House of the Beehives for flute, oboe and electronics by Melody Eötvös on 5 September at this year's Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music; Syzygy Ensemble playing Martin Wesley-Smith's 1991 work for flute, clarinet, cello and piano in memory of composer and teacher Don Banks titled simply db, the Camerata of St John with Old Times by Iain Grandage, and Peter Sculthorpe's Lament for Cello and Strings; and
the Australian Piano Quartet with early 20th-century composer and WWI casualty Frederick Septimus Kelly's String Trio in B minor; and the 1999 piano quartet Emerald Crossing by Ross Edwards.

In the second week of September ABC Classic FM celebrates the 40th anniversary of one of Australia's longest-running and most accomplished choral groups, the Sydney Chamber Choir. You can hear two concerts from the choir's 2015 season covering classic SCC territory. In the first program under the guest baton of the SCC's founding conductor Nicholas Routley, the choir premieres Above the water by long-time composer associate and ex-chorister Clare Maclean, alongside music from the Flemish C16 and a rendition of the Brahms German Requiem that saw many ex-choristers returning to swell the choir's ranks in celebration.

The second program, recorded just this month, is lead by SCC's new musical director, Richard Gill. Gill has chosen to kick off with a concert that places the choir's signature repertoire of a cappella C16 and contemporary Australian choral music alongside works by Ravel and Debussy. The Australian selection is wide-ranging, with music by Elliott Gyger, Dulcie Holland, Elena Kats-Chernin, Vincent Plush, Dan Walker and trans-Tasman composer Gillian Whitehead (Thursday 10 September at 9.30pm).

New Waves podcast opens September with a special extended program devoted to the recent Queensland Music Festival hit 'Unrepresentative Swill'. This evening-length extravaganza is the result of years of work by composer Robert Davidson, researching the content and sonic characteristics of key speeches by Australian prime ministers and other political voices and setting them to music, first for his band Topology, and then also for The Australian Voices. If you missed the music on air and at the Queensland Music Festival just over a month ago, or if you heard the works and would like to learn more about their creation, or just want to hear them again, download the podcast of music and interviews with Davidson and TAV director (and composer of one of the works in the collection) Gordon Hamilton.

New Waves in September continues with a stock-take of the unusual creative activities of composer, sound artist and event producer James Hullick. Hullick joins me in studio to talk about his work and ideas, and to introduce the music, beginning with an in-studio solo performance on prepared piano. The series continues with Select Naturalis, a new work for Hullick's Amplified Elephants ensemble of sound artists with an intellectual disability, premiering on Saturday 5 September at the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music (BIFEM), and a collection of six new chamber pieces created for the musicians of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM).

And finally, as a little preview of concert broadcasts in November - if you're in Melbourne on Saturday 26 September you're warmly invited to be in the audience at the Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank Centre, for a free concert of new and recent Australian music presented by ABC Classic FM in collaboration with the Melbourne Composer's League. The concert is being recorded for broadcast in November as part of Australian Music Month on ABC Radio. The music for 'Where Are The Sounds Of Joy?' is curated around two substantial new works reflecting on the experience of war in the context of the Anzac centenary by elder musical stateswoman Helen Gifford, celebrating her 80th birthday this year, and New Zealand immigrant composer Bruce Crossman. Also on the program is new and recent music by Howard Dillon, Eve Duncan, Peter Graham, Alan Holley, Colin McKellar, Paul Moulatlet and Haydn Reeder. The outstanding line-up of performers includes pianist Michael Kieran Harvey, trumpeter Tristram Williams, and percussionist Peter Neville.

Australian music broadcast schedule

Saturday 5 September
8.00pm EVENINGS: BBC Proms - Boston Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons; Håkan Hardenberger, trumpet soloist.
Includes Brett Dean - Dramatis personae
10.00pm EVENINGS: Plexus
Featuring Gerard Brophy - Trinity; Robert Davidson - Lost in Light; Larry Sitsky - Blood from the Moon (world premiere); Julian Yu - Classical Stories

Tuesday 8 September
10.00pm EVENINGS: Sydney Chamber Choir/Nicholas Routley; Anthony Hunt, piano; Thomas Victor Johnson, piano; Alexander Knight, baritone; Belinda Montgomery, soprano
Includes Clare Maclean - Above the Water (world premiere)

Wednesday 9 September
10.00pm EVENINGS: Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music - Inventi Ensemble.
Includes Melody Eötvös House of the Beehive (world premiere)

Thursday 10 September
9.30pm EVENINGS: Sydney Chamber Choir/Richard Gill
Includes Elliott Gyger - Five Bells; Vincent Plush - Australian Boy; Dan Walker - Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard; Gillian Whitehead - Missa brevis; Elena Kats-Chernin - Talk Show; Dulcie Holland - Adam Lay Y-Bounden

Thursday 17 September
9.30pm EVENINGS: Syzygy Ensemble
Includes Martin Wesley-Smith - db

Friday 18 September
7.30pm EVENINGS: LIVE - ANAM at the Melbourne Recital Centre - Emma Matthews, soprano; Simone Young, conductor; ANAM Musicians
Includes Paul Stanhope - Fantasia on a theme by Vaughan Williams

Monday 21 September
8.00pm EVENINGS: Melbourne Chamber Orchestra
Includes Paul Stanhope - Nephesh for Double String Quartet

Tuesday 22 September
8.00pm EVENINGS: Camerata of St John
Includes Iain Grandage - Old Times; Peter Sculthorpe - Lament for Cello and Strings

Thursday 24 September
8.00pm EVENINGS: Australian Piano Quartet - 'Boundless Journeys'
Includes Frederick Septimus Kelly - String Trio in B minor; Ross Edwards - Emerald Crossing
9.30pm EVENINGS:Paul Dean, clarinet, Brett Dean, violin/viola, and Lisa Moore, piano
Includes Brett Dean - Sketches for Siegbert

Friday 25 September
8.00pm EVENINGS: The Song Company/Roland Peelman; with Joseph Tawadros, oud
Joseph Tawadros - Patient, ever patient (arr. Coelho & Peelman); Beauty is life; Reason and passion; Bird of space (arr. Coelho & Peelman); A truth; Yaleel


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Apt name

As with last month, the fare for September - with a few notable exceptions - is still appallingly conservative, and represents only a slight improvement over last month's offerings. One thing did give me some wry amusement, though: knowing some of Robert Davidson's music, and the predilections of his Topology ensemble, the title of his work Unrepresentative Swill is singularly apt. One has got to admire truth-in-naming!