Thursday, July 20, 2017 2:24pm
What has been your relationship with Ian Munro?
Ian and I have performed together for many years as members of the Australia Ensemble – one of this country’s most enduring and significant chamber groups (based at the University of NSW in Sydney). Ian has also appeared as a soloist with the ASO. Apart from being an amazing pianist, it’s been a wonderful experience for me to see him grow into an outstanding composer as well.
The Orchestra in the Adelaide Town Hall. Photo Shane Reid.
What can you tell us about the Flute Concerto?
This work is a co-commission of the MSO and ASO, and it’s very much written with myself and Prue Davis in mind (Principal Flute of the MSO). Prue gave the premiere of the work late last year.
It celebrates the lyrical prowess of the modern flute with sweeping melodies and wonderful atmospheric textures with the string orchestra, as well as a colourful use of harp and percussion.
In this work Ian continues to explore his interest in the various emerging musics of early Colonial and rural Australia. Whilst drawing on folk melodies throughout, he manages to create a compelling sense of space and time.
In some ways the Concerto follows a standard design: a formal and bold first movement, followed by a dark scherzo-like second, a misty slow third and concluding with a fun, light finale. The titles of the 4 movements tell us a lot about the journey of the work: The Convict Returns, Ten Thousand Miles, Gargal Machree, and Jack Doolan.
Why is it important to you to celebrate new Australian music?
In my view, classical music is as much about creation as performance – it’s essential that Australia make its own unique contribution to keep the art form relevant. Over the years, we have slowly fashioned our own voice which, as in many other areas, has something special to say – particularly to Australian listeners.
Photo Shane Reid.
How do you prepare on the day of a concert?
Performers generally try to reproduce ‘performance day’ over and over to understand the variables and get used to the buildup and challenges.
Generally we have a final rehearsal in the morning so it’s quite a tough day. Remembering to eat and hydrate is very important so you have good energy for the show. Afternoon naps don’t work for me – I generally feel worse afterwards! As a musician you have to embrace the feeling of nerves and just learn to accept them.
ASO Woodwinds. Photo Shane Reid.
You live between Sydney and Adelaide – what do you like most about each city?
Being born in Adelaide I will always have a soft spot for its relative civility and beautiful food and wine. I hope it will have the confidence to continue to play to its strengths and not lose itself in trying to be like other larger cities, many of which lose their character as they grow. Adelaide is not far from the sweet spot – big enough to enjoy all the amenities of city life but still relatively easy to get around.
Sydney is really struggling at the moment in my opinion – infrastructure is well behind the size and speed of change – yet it’s still a magnificent place to live and experience. I enjoy both cities.
What has been your most memorable concert experience
I’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing musicians and composers throughout my career – hard to say just one. I think the ones that stand out are when everything comes together magically in a performance setting - it's not always clear as to why this happens even. Certainly there are several ASO performances on that list.
Who has influenced you most as a musician?
My early teachers and mentors remain in my thoughts always. I’ve been very lucky to work with fine string players also - their approach has influenced my thinking almost as much. Wind players have much to learn from string pedagogy.
Watch Geoffrey perform Flute Concerto on 11 & 12 August in Portraits & Variations.
For more information, click here.