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22 May 2020

Inventi - reaching out from isolation

Inventi Ensemble Image: Inventi Ensemble  

What I love about Inventi Ensemble is that we are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and share music. Since the restrictions on social gatherings were put in place we have been finding new opportunities for musicians, and also coming up with new, socially responsible ways of looking at sharing music.

After reading articles on residents in aged care in isolation, we reached out to the Melbourne Recital Centre's 'Music Always' program, which we have been a part of for many years now. It's a beautiful program that sends ensembles into aged care facilities to perform music. We worked on developing a way our musicians could perform a live streamed concert to share with residents in aged care. As always, our programs were a carefully selected mix of traditional concert repertoire, as well as Australian music.

A warm meeting between Inventi and their audience at Wintringham Aged Care.

The first iteration of this concert included the Victorian premiere of a work by Canberra-based composer Michael Dooley (performed remotely by Peter Clark and Jessica Oddie). The response was overwhelming, the residents were thrilled with the diversity of the program and the energy of the performances. We always allow for a Q & A at the end of these sessions when we perform in the centres, and this was no exception, what a joy to interact and hear such articulate questions about our instruments, and questions about working with composers!

There have been so many opportunities that have arisen in recent times that have invigorated and excited us, from these we have been able to do things like lead a panel discussion with Australian composers, Melody Eötvös and Caerwen Martin and performer Jenny Khafagi as part of Monash University's 'Alone Together' project, to open a discussion for students around how certain pieces are conceptually created, and the process of commissioning new works in this day and age.

We are also passionate about continuing our work with Australian composers, we have already commissioned Peter de Jager for five new solo works for flute, oboe, violin, viola and cello. And are in the process of seeking funding for new works by Melody Eötvös, Caerwen Martin, Johannes Luebbers and Nikki Edgar.

In addition to this, we are developing a brand-new performance for children, specifically designed for children in isolation, and into the future, to be able to reach out to children in remote areas. This interactive, live-streamed performance will allow people to engage with high-quality music in a learning setting. We have commissioned Caerwen Martin to write new music for this, and are excited to see the direction it heads in!

So, we are keeping busy! We are also enjoying the chance to get even more creative with the ways we can interact with each other, share music to those in need and continue to create new Australian music. We would like to finish with a personal offering of 'a day in the life of Inventi' during isolation from Inventi co-artistic director, Melissa Doecke:

Wednesday 6th May looked like a usual date in my diary - a concert performance with Inventi Ensemble at an aged agecare home. These are always something I look forward to with great enthusiasm - the opportunity to share music and my passion with audiences who are so grateful to be able to hear live music. That morning, though, was different. We were locked in isolation and so unable to visit our audience in person or even be together with our other Inventi musicians. So! Adapting to the situation, Inventi were presenting an online performance! I got dressed, did some warmups on my flute, and then went about setting up my performance space. Music stand, laptop for recording, checking how the space looked - did the top of my piano look good as a backdrop? Once ready, I logged into the zoom meeting to greet the other musicians and then our audience arrived.

Waving happily across the screens we greeted each other and proceeded to share our music. My turn came and I played a favourite Australian piece of mine - Ulpirra by Ross Edwards, and a favourite hymn - Amazing Grace. It was wonderful! The audience clapping was a sight to see on the screen and there was still the opportunity to interact with the audience after the concert - they had some great questions to ask and were thankful for the opportunity to hear our concert. It was great to hear all our Inventi musicians come together in this way. Peter and Jess even joined in from New Zealand where they had been at the time of lockdown!

We are very grateful to the Melbourne Recital Centre for facilitating these concerts, giving us a wonderful opportunity to share music, an important part of life to warm the soul at the best of times, but especially now in lockdown.

Melissa Doecke

> Inventi Ensemble - homepage (https://www.inventiensemble.com/)


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