A Booming Season for Chamber Music Rolls On

Adelaide is mid-way through a stellar season of chamber music performances, including a set of Posthumous Composer in Residence concerts from The Firm.

Chamber Music Adelaide, the umbrella organisation for seven local chamber music ensembles, has put together a strong season of impressive local and international talent. Of particular note within Chamber Music Adelaide’s season is that of The Firm.

Founded in 1996 by Quincy Grant and Raymond Smith, The Firm keenly promotes the work of South Australian composers and musicians, as well as presenting special events and international tours.

This year, they are coordinating their annual Posthumous Composer in Residence series at Elder Hall – of which there are three shows to come – with the Italian Domenico Scarlatti and Russian Alfred Schnittke the celebrated late composers. Highlighting the continuum in classical music, these deceased composers’ works came into the world centuries apart, with Scarlatti having died in 1757 and Schnittke in 1998.

In the upcoming concert Scarlatti’s Sonata and Schnittke’s Sonata No. 1 will be followed by more contemporary compositions from UK composer Peter Maxwell Davies’ Farewell to Stromness and Raymond Smith’s Akhmatova Park. Grant says this link between the old and new is key to each concert’s flow.

“We always ask our contributing composers to make a link where they can with the music of our posthumous composers where possible, so that can assist us when it comes to building a program order,” says Grant of The Firm’s line-up at Elder Hall.

“Scarlatti’s music is stylistically a long way from modern styles, so will sit alone in that way,” he says. “But Schnittke’s music will be much closer to the styles that our composers write in, so listeners will hear connections there. But, whatever the style, once we program the works we make a journey in each concert that tends to have listeners not focusing so much on the difference between pieces and styles, but more on the effects of the journey itself.“

Marianna Grynchuk

Performing these immortal works will be local talents of international pedigree. The August concert saw Marianna Grynchuk on piano and Simon Cobroft on cello, and this Friday’s September performance will see local piano virtuoso Konstantin Shamray.

Following this will be Mekhla Kumar’s piano recital in October and Robert Macfarlane (tenor), Kate Macfarlane (soprano) and Jamie Cock (pianist) in December. Smith tells The Adelaide Review that he is glad to have programmed more music from living composers than those from deceased ones and revels in the contrast and continuity of the pieces to be presented.

“The alchemy of difference, similarity, blend and idiosyncrasy is a process which every audience member experiences in their own solitary way,” he says.

“That is always the mystery of the concert adventure and it is not for us to pre-empt it.” “In music the passions enjoy themselves,” Smith concludes quoting Nietzsche.

Posthumous Composers in Residence Elder Hall Konstantin Shamray – Monday, September 12 Mekhla Kumar – Monday, October 31 Robert Macfarlane, Kate Macfarlane and Jamie Cock – Monday, December 5 chambermusicadelaide.com.au

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