A keen interest in jazz and a shared appreciation for new music was the impetus behind the Zephyr Quartet’s imaginative new performance project, Between Light.
A keen interest in jazz and a shared appreciation for new music was the impetus behind the Zephyr Quartet’s imaginative new performance project, Between Light. Performing at Adelaide’s historic Queen’s Theatre, the South Australian string quartet hopes to breathe new life into classical music performance, presenting five specially commissioned works by leading Australian jazz artists Andrea Keller, Tony Gould, Stephen Magnusson, Matt Keegan and Lyndon Gray. Stepping away from the traditional concert format, the members of the Zephyr Quartet – Belinda Gehlert (violin), Emily Tulloch (violin), Jason Thomas (viola) and Hilary Kleinig (cello) – will present the new works as a promenade performance, moving with the audience through the rooms of the Queen’s Theatre. In collaboration with esteemed lighting designer Geoff Cobham, the performances will take place in intimate and uniquely lit rooms, tailored to each musical score. The Italian art term chiaroscuro, meaning light and dark, is the central theme of the performance, and according to the Zephyr Quartet’s artistic director and cellist, Hilary Kleinig, each composer was given this theme as the genesis for their work. “Personally I have been very interested in the idea of polarities in life: light and dark, life and death, love and hate, good and evil. As an artist, I find it fascinating to explore the use of light and dark as a metaphorical theme as well as a physical theme,” Kleinig explains. “We haven’t told the composers what to do stylistically. We really left it up to them and it’s been interesting to see how each of them responded differently to the theme. Some have responded quite literally and others quite abstractly; some have responded in a metaphorical, emotional sense and others in a kind of musical, physical sense.” Despite sharing a common jazz background, Kleinig explains that each artist has created a remarkably unique musical composition, influenced by their varying ages and the instruments they play. “One of the things we most admire about musicians working in these areas is how they’ll often defy boundaries of style and definition,” she says. “We have one piece in the performance which is quite contemporary, using a lot of interesting string and compositional techniques, while another one is more traditional, based on folk songs. Another one is quite angular; I remember the composer saying it’s meant to sound like shards of light intersecting, and I can really hear that in the music.” Kleinig says the aim of the project is to create an immersive and holistic concert experience through the merging of different art forms, taking the audience on a literal, visual and sonic journey. “I think combining different art forms is a really great way of cross-fertilising audiences. One enriches the other in a way that a single art form couldn’t,” she says. “We very much want it to be an immersive experience in that the audience is actively participating in the performance; that they’re not passive about receiving the music. They have to move with us and experience the music and the lighting.” Between Light Queen’s Theatre Wednesday, May 21 to Sunday, May 25 zephyrquartet.com