Here is another update on the second half of our current tour to the Adelaide Festival in Australia:
“Well, I’m writing this on Monday – the day after our two concerts at the Adelaide Festival.
After our two days of rehearsals, the first concert on Saturday was a classic Sinfonietta programme. Nancarrow’s Player Piano Study No.7 is a fantastic piece to not only show off the virtuosity of the players, but a great concert opener, instantly engaging the audience. That and the Revueltas Ocho por Radio set up Unsuk Chin’s Double Concerto. We met the amazing pianist Lisa Moore in Adelaide and rehearsed with her here, as one of the soloists sharing the front of the stage with percussionist Owen Gunnell. Both did a fantastic job – and the piece went down really well. The second hall started with Cage’s Credo in US and finished with John Adams’ Son of Chamber Symphony.
Then onto the Sunday concert – and the experimental collaborations. Scott Tinkler brought his amazing musicianship onto stage with our players, and together held the audience captive. John Rodger’s score for the London Sinfonietta carefully left space for Tinkler to improvise in his extraordinarily way. I’ve not heard playing like it – and chatting to Scott over breakfast it’s clear how dedicated he is to exploring the possibilities of improvisation, and has spent years developing his technique for playing and how to create structures in music with the language of sounds he develops for each piece. He had his supporters in the audience – but I would say everyone in the hall, on stage and in the audience, was a fan by the end.
The Sinfonietta performed works by Tansy Davies (the rhythmic and quirky neon), Gavin Bryars (the haunting The Sinking of the Titanic) and Brett Dean (his beautiful Dream Sequence). The concert ended with a new piece by Erkki Veltheim that brought the London Sinfonietta together with the Young Wagilak Group, a quartet of Aboriginal songmen. The score for the London Sinfonietta provided a bedrock of sound upon which the singers performed – an extraordinary and unusual combination of ancient song tradition with contemporary music. I sensed the collaboration was a hugely significant moment – the Young Wagilak Group have been performing often with the Australian Art Orchestra, but Erkki told me today that they had not performed before with such a large number of musicians in a concert quite like last night. A truly one-off experience for the London Sinfonietta, and another new project to add to a long line of past collaborations. Brad Lubman did a fantastic job for us across this project as conductor, dealing with a huge range of repertoire and steering all the musicians through some very unusual collaborations.
We were all really pleased with the response to the performances – what a fantastic audience Adelaide has. It seems to be a feature of the festival that they come out in great numbers to experience many performances of things that are new, different and unusual. They seemed so genuinely excited by the music we performed, and so open to the huge range of music and ideas in our programmes. We were told that Adelaide audiences very rarely give standing ovations – but that’s what happened.
It’s been a real honour to be part of this festival. Many great musical memories for everyone. For me our performances of course, and then a fantastic Saturday night when I went onto a performance by recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey in her new installation project ‘en masse’, followed by a brilliant set by the Grabowsky Washington project – festival director Paul Grabowsky with singer Megan Washington and band. Washington has a fabulous voice and has a great songwriting talent, and Paul is a demon pianist and songwriter too, so together they kept the packed Spiegeltent venue captivated until 1 in the morning. One of those nights of music making that comes around rarely – and only possible at a fantastic festival like this one.
Great friends made here – Paul, Sarah, Lesley, Kate, Ali, Scott, John, Erkki, Lisa, Ben and the Songmen and all the festival production team who helped with our concerts. I hope we’ve made some friends too in the Adelaide audience. We all hope we will be back someday. Great part of the world – and a great great festival.”