We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the many lands on which we meet, work and live and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging – people who have sung their songs, danced their dances and told their stories on these lands for thousands of generations.
Late into Chamber Music, an early collection of forlorn, lovesick poems, James Joyce crafts the most beguiling and, for us today, apposite words:
‘Now, O now, in this brown land
Where Love did so sweet music make . . .’
Joyce’s brown land is barren, the terrain of a promising relationship breaking down. Yet in 2021 Musica Viva’s brown land is a place of celebration and promise, of astonishing Australian musicians gathering under a single banner – Viva 2021 – and ultimately of love producing the sweetest music.
Quite early in 2020 the challenge of reimagining the 2021 season became the most glorious opportunity; after all, how often in life are we presented with a completely blank slate? Filling this slate in the most creative way possible has been one of the most enjoyable and imaginative experiences in my career: all of us at Musica Viva have worked together to ensure that the musicians and projects we’ve assembled under this single banner are outstanding in every regard.
Conversations with these artists about programming, about prospective collaborations and commissions, about exactly what we want the year to mean and say, have filled the last months. The prospect of a return to the stage, of touring the big brown land, has reminded us all of the sheer power of live music and its meaning to us individually.
So many friends old and new will remind us of music’s precise meaning in our lives. Genevieve Lacey and Marshall McGuire explore the idea of music as sanctuary, in scores from the 16th century onwards. Paul Dean’s concerto for cello and wind quintet is a remarkable statement of virtuosity and colour, and it is a sheer privilege to tour Ensemble Q to cities throughout the country. Bringing together Nicolas Fleury, Emily Sun and Amir Farid in one of the greatest pieces of chamber music – Brahms’s horn trio – is a particular pleasure, as has been watching the brilliant Aura Go play and act her way through development of Chopin’s Piano as a musical staging of an intriguing story about a humble instrument, the 24 Preludes Chopin wrote on it, and the long tail of Romanticism. To collaborate with ANAM, Sophie Rowell, Konstantin Shamray and Harry Ward in this most beautiful program is a delight, as indeed it is to welcome back old friends, the Goldner Quartet with Piers Lane, and Diana Doherty with the Streeton Trio.
Hovering over all this is the work and ideas of a new friend, the outstanding visual artist and poet Judith Nangala Crispin whose collaboration with Musica Viva in 2021 as our Artist in Residence will leave its mark for many years to come.
So please join us in 2021, for as Joyce says in conclusion to the above poem, ‘The year, the year is gathering.’
With special thanks to the Amadeus Society for its support of Musica Viva’s 2021 Concert Season
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Learn more about the concerts you can enjoy in your city plus details on how to subscribe.
We would also like to thank those individuals who have generously supported each ensemble (Ensemble Patrons) or concert (Concert Champions) of the tours that you are about to explore.
To use the terms musician, poet and artist in one sentence is unusual. ‘To find them in one person,’ declares Musica Viva’s Artistic Director Paul Kildea, ‘is a delight.’ A joy we’ll learn more about in 2021, as we unveil the appointment of Dr Judith Nangala Crispin as the company’s Artist in Residence.
Since 2011, Judith has spent several months each year working with Warlpiri people in the Tanami Desert, and with their help, has begun tracing her own Bpangerang Aboriginal ancestry. Guided by these conversations, Judith has explored the themes of intelligence of country and light through her art. The results are seen in extraordinary Lumen Prints, created with the bodies of Australian animals, with sticks, leaves, seeds, and Vegemite, exposed in natural light for over 30 hours, as demonstrated in our cover image.
Judith now identifies as a poet and visual artist who draws upon elements from her musical training. The fearlessness with which she has moved from composition into other artforms is explained by her view that creativity is an organic evolution. ‘Think about the difference between music and poetry, there’s almost none. They both use time as a canvas, they both use intonation, metre, rhythm, they both convert a kind of narrative. They’re very closely aligned.’
This residency is a return to a company that Judith formed a relationship with as a young musician. She points to the organisation’s policy of commissioning emerging composers, and has fond memories of performances. ‘If it was a Musica Viva concert, you’d always hear something new.’
More details on our Artist In Residence coming soon.
Image: Kerrie Brewer, Canberra Weekly