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FIVE–MINUTE

PROGRAMME

NOTES

A SHORT READ BEFORE THE CONCERT BEGINS.

CONTRA

CONCERTS

JONATHAN HENDERSON / CURATOR

CONTRA
SCHUBERT

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Nocturnal art song in exotic settings.

WELCOME

Welcome to CONTRA SCHUBERT, an evocative hour of up-close, exotic art-song. Cumulatively, these compositions and their texts draw on evocative elements of nature and night to reconcile with raw emotion. Aromatic, sensual, mysterious and existential adventures are depicted in highly programmatic, sensitive music by Schubert, Sculthorpe and Ravel. 

 

Often their music is delicate, with fragile, transparent textures regaling cool, moonlit scenes. Their songs depict nocturnal birds, dried flowers and sweet-smelling herbs. Beneath the moon and a sky full of stars, swirling seas and cool evening winds set the scene for hymns, ceremonies and erotic rendezvous. At their climax, however, dramatic and expressive peaks remind us of the power of nature, as we are humbled by the monumental grandeur of towering mountains and vast cosmic planes.

 

To attend a Contra Concert permits you an hour to switch off, recharge and disconnect from deadline mode. We invite you to rebel against your smartphone and dare to get nothing done! Sit back, let your mind wander and share in the rare exchange of music between performers and audience, only achievable in the intimacy of the chamber music salon.

Contra Concerts are proud to partner with Southern Cross Soloists to be able to present this concert. I can think of no better project than one which brings my closest chamber partners and friends together to play in such an intimate setting – my favourite kind of music-making. We are excited to play for you today and thank you for attending our second series.

 

JONATHAN HENDERSON

flutist / curator

NOTES

A SHORT READ BEFORE THE CONCERT BEGINS.

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CONTRA SCHUBERT

Engraving by Luc-Albert Moreau; Chansons Madécasses. Durand Editions Musicales, 1926.

 

Franz Schubert

Introduction and Variations on "Trockne Blumen" for flute and piano in E minor d. 802 op. posth. 160

The Lied was to occupy most of Franz Schubert’s life. Indeed, the over six-hundred he wrote took the genre to new artistic heights. While the Lied had existed before Schubert, these works lacked the same dramatic force and emotional depth that Schubert was able to achieve. Within his lieder, Schubert deftly crafted rich, powerful, and dramatic melodies which aptly expressed the emotional and intellectual depth of the poetry upon which it was inspired. 

It seems natural then that, when composing instrumental music, Schubert often drew inspiration from his lieder. His Introduction and Variations on "Trockne Blumen" for flute and piano in E minor d. 802 op. posth. 160 are based upon the lied Trockne Blumen (dried Flowers) from his song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin (The Fair Maiden of the Mill).

Die Schöne Müllerin tells the tale of a young man who falls in love with a miller’s daughter. While at first the miller’s daughter returns his affections, the young man becomes heart broken when he hears of her marriage to another man. Trockne Blumen is the eighteenth song featured in the cycle. In it, the miserable youth sings of his inability to live if he cannot marry his one true love – the miller’s daughter.

Peter Sculthorpe 

By the late 20th century, Sculthorpe had firmly established himself within the Australian music scene, and by the 1970’s had found his voice as a composer. Rather than writing music based in western traditions, this decade marks the era when Sculthorpe began writing music based solely upon Indigenous Australian source material.

Throughout the decade, he wrote various pieces at the behest of the Australian Chamber Orchestra as well as the Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras. In these works, Sculthorpe artfully blends indigenous melodies with sounds from the natural Australian landscape to create music that sounds distinctly Australian.

His work Love 200 is a good example of Sculthorpe’s growing experimentalism during the 70’s. Scored for rock band and orchestra, this work attempts to fuse ancient baroque orchestral music with contemporary rock and roll. In writing The Stars Turn (1970), Sculthorpe drew inspiration from Love 200, reworking the work’s more experimental melodies into the folk tunes present in The Stars Turn.

Night Pieces (1971) are a collection of three works based upon the ancient Japanese artistic concept – Setsugekka, which translates literally as “snow, moon, and flowers” with each element suggestive of a season. Snow is suggestive of Winter, Moon of Autumn, and Flowers of Spring. Thus, at the heart Sculthorpe’s Night Pieces is the idea of change and metamorphosis, whereby Sculthorpe seeks to mimic the transition of the seasons through music.

Mountains (1981) is based upon Australia’s natural environment. In this piece, Sculthorpe seeks to evoke the majesty and power of the Isle of Mountains – an impressive mountain range in Tasmania. Commissioned by the Sydney International Piano Competition, Mountains was first performed by Gabriella Pusner in 1981 in Verbugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Maurice Ravel

Like his contemporary Debussy, Ravel struggled under the strict and regimented tuition of the Paris Conservatory. Although Ravel learned the fundamentals from his teacher Gabriel Fauré, he was to mature as a composer through studying with Eric Satie and Emmanuel Chabrier. From Chabrier, Ravel learned to appreciate exotic folk melodies (particularly Spanish melodies); and from Satie he inherited a sparse musical simplicity. All these influences coalesce in Ravel’s compositions.

Deux Melodies Hebraiques

Two Hebrew Melodies (1914) are based upon ancient melodies. The Kaddish was a type of liturgical chant typically sung in the synagogue during service. The chant not only praises God but reminds the singers of their obligation to create his kingdom of heaven on Earth. The second melody, L’Enigme Eternelle (the Eternal Enigma) is based upon a Yiddish folksong of the same name. The soprano Alvina Alvi commissioned Ravel to write these two Hebrew Melodies, and both performed the Paris premiere in 1914.

Chansons Madécasses

Madagascan Songs (1926–28) were inspired by the prose of Evariste-Desire de Parny, a poet who lived in Madagascar in the 1780’s. Ravel apparently purchased a copy of de Parny’s poems from a second-hand book store and fell in love with the exotic nature of the prose. When asked by the wealthy patron Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge to compose a work, Ravel chose to draw inspiration from de Parny’s poems. While Coolidge gave Ravel free rein to write however he wished, she did have one stipulation – the work must include the cello and flute.

Over the next few months, Ravel struggled to compose his Chansons Madécasses. At the same time as writing the song cycle, he was also writing his violin sonata, and working on both pieces proved difficult. The Chansons premier was postponed several times, before it was finally unveiled to the public in a concert at the American Embassy in Rome, in May 1926.

 

Notes by James Haywood >

TEXT & TRANSLATIONS

MUSICIANS

ABOUT TODAY'S PERFORMERS

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JONATHAN HENDERSON

flute / curator

 

Jonathan Henderson trained with Europe’s leading flute professors and has carved out a multifaceted musical career spanning from Australia to the Nordic countries. Whilst still a student at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, Jonathan was appointed Principal Flute of the Estonian National Opera Orchestra at age twenty-four. He has appeared as a guest principal flute with the Turku Philharmonic and Tampere Philharmonic Orchestras (Finland), and has performed with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Nordic Symphony Orchestra and MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. Orchestral engagements and recitals have seen him perform at the Lucerne Festival, Tallinn Chamber Music Festival, Audi Sommerkonzerte and BBC Proms. As concerto soloist, Jonathan gave the world premiere of a new flute concerto composed for him by Australian Composer Lisa Cheney, commissioned by the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra. In Australia, Jonathan has performed as guest artist at the Craven Creek and Brisbane Music Festivals. In 2020 Jonathan was appointed as flute soloist with one of Australia's most celebrated chamber ensembles, the Southern Cross Soloists, after appearing regularly with the group as Associate Artist in their 2019 QPAC Subscription Series. Jonathan completed his early musical training at the Queensland Conservatorium (Australia), followed by further performance studies at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg (Germany) and the Haute École de Musique Genève (Switzerland).

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ADAM CHALABI

violin

 

Adam Chalabi holds the position of Associate Professor at the University of Queensland School of Music. He is first violinist of the internationally renowned Tinalley String Quartet and held the position of Concertmaster of Orchestra Victoria from 2009-2014. He has appeared as guest concertmaster with numerous orchestras within Australia and overseas including the Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. He previously held the position of Head of Strings at the Australian National Academy of Music. Adam has recorded extensively on the DECCA, ABC Classics, Capriccio and Move record labels and is regularly broadcast as a recitalist and chamber musician on ABC Classic. Between 2002-2009 Adam was Principal Violin with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. Born in London, Adam began his violin studies at the age of four with the Suzuki Method and attended the Purcell School  and Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Maciej Rakowski. He is very grateful to have been supported by the Countess of Munster, Ian Fleming and Lawrence Atwell Charitable foundations. Adam plays on a Joseph Panormo violin circa 1805.(Switzerland).

MUSICIANS

ABOUT TODAY'S PERFORMERS

JH square 01.jpg

 

JONATHAN HENDERSON

flute / curator

 

Jonathan Henderson trained with Europe’s leading flute professors and has carved out a multifaceted musical career spanning from Australia to the Nordic countries. Whilst still a student at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, Jonathan was appointed Principal Flute of the Estonian National Opera Orchestra at age twenty-four. He has appeared as a guest principal flute with the Turku Philharmonic and Tampere Philharmonic Orchestras (Finland), Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia Orchestra and has performed with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Nordic Symphony Orchestra and MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. Orchestral engagements and recitals have seen him perform at the Lucerne Festival, Tallinn Chamber Music Festival, Audi Sommerkonzerte and BBC Proms. As concerto soloist, Jonathan gave the world premiere of a new flute concerto composed for him by Australian Composer Lisa Cheney, commissioned by the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra. In Australia, Jonathan has performed as guest artist at the Craven Creek, Bangalow and Brisbane Music Festivals. In 2020 Jonathan was appointed as flute soloist with one of Australia's most celebrated chamber ensembles, the Southern Cross Soloists, after appearing regularly with the group as Associate Artist in their 2019 QPAC Subscription Series. Jonathan completed his early musical training at the Queensland Conservatorium (Australia), followed by further performance studies at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg (Germany) and the Haute École de Musique Genève (Switzerland).

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VATCHE JAMBAZIAN

piano

 

Sydney-born pianist Vatche Jambazian completed his Master of Music at The Juilliard School following studies at the Sydney Conservatorium. Following his international debut in Armenia, Vatche has since performed extensively throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Vatche was awarded the Fine Music Station (2MBS) Young Performer of the Year (NSW), was a finalist in the ABC Young Performer of the Year and a prizewinner at the Los Angeles International Piano Competition. Concert engagements have seen him perform at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, City Recital Hall, Hobart Town Hall, The Foundling Museum, Zipper Hall, and Lincoln Centre where he gave the New York premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Light and Matter Piano Trio through the Rolex Arts Initiative. During the pandemic Vatche has maintained an active performance schedule featuring in the Digital Season at the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, The Australian Festival of Chamber Music and Phoenix Central Park and additionally holds the position of Guest Artist and Professor at The Piano Institute (Surabaya, Indonesia). Vatche was recently appointed Principal Pianist for Omega Ensemble and currently holds the position of Academic lecturer at the Australian Institute of Music.

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SHIKARA RINGDAHL

mezzo-soprano

 

Australian mezzo-soprano Shikara Ringdahl is a graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University and holds a Bachelor of Music. She debuted with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2018 singing Elgar’s Sea Pictures Op. 37 under the baton of Benjamin Northey and became the first vocalist the SSO has brought on tour in their 80 years of regional touring. In 2019 Shikara was invited by the Head of Music, Richard Hetherington, to study at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Her trip was generously supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School Scholarship. Her opera credits include Der Komponist in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos conducted by Simone Young AM, Larina in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin conducted by Richard Hetherington, and Mrs Herring in Britten’s Albert Herring directed by award winning film director Bruce Beresford for Brisbane Festival. Shikara has also been a resident Young Artist with the Israeli Opera’s Meitar Opera Studio. Shikara is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at Queensland University of Technology.

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HYUNG SUK BAE

cello

 

An acclaimed soloist, chamber musician, educator, orchestral musician and artist, Hyung Suk Bae's performances have taken him all over United States of America, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Harris Theater in Chicago and Sydney Opera House. His recent highlight includes performing with Pinchas Zukerman, Charmian Gadd, and Australia/New Zealand tour with pianist Maxwell Foster. Hyung Suk Bae has been praised for his performance style that extends ‘beyond technical excellence and into the realms of artistry’ (Gisborne Herald). He studied at The Juilliard School with Joel Krosnick (former cellist of Juilliard String Quartet), with a full scholarship for the Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees.

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