Revisiting a cherished project through ACO & ANAM Up Close
My most cherished project last year was a week spent working alongside some of Australia’s brightest stars at the Abbotsford Convent as an Artist in Residence at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM). I’m thrilled that I can re-live this collaboration almost exactly 12 months later. This time around, we deliver a program that conveys some very personal thoughts. It explores the sights and sounds of current-day New York next to the emptiness of the arctic circle. Before our concert at the Convent, this program will go on the road and entertain listeners at the Tarrawarra Festival and at ACO Pier 2/3 in Sydney.
The program's centrepiece comes from my homeland and has significant personal resonance with me. Twelve months ago, I could have written that all the composers in this concert were living composers. Tragically, that has now changed. Jaakko Kuusisto’s generous and humane personality lives on through his music, whether it’s performed at home in Finland or here in Australia, pretty much as far away from its intellectual home as possible. Jaakko was both an irreplaceable part of the cultural landscape I grew up in and a part of my family.
Wiima by Jaakko Kuusisto was commissioned by a small summer festival that takes place every year in my mother's hometown of Sysmä, where I spent many summer and winter holidays as a kid. I’ll exercise some artistic liberty and imagine that the piece is connected to this unique and quirky town, a place I remember fondly.
All three major works in this program, Nico Muhly’s Diacritical Marks, Missy Mazzoli’s You know me from here, and Wiima, are originally string quartets, which the composers themselves re-arranged for larger string ensemble. Nico Muhly has kindly prepared his arrangement specifically with these performances in mind. So, our program of new music will also include a World Premiere of sorts. I strongly feel that our responsibility as performers is to explore and put forward music from our times; music that reflects the world as we live it, rather than only continue looking back at what has been before us.
In this side-by-side project, I’m joined by three members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, so the ensemble we form together will be tiny, with nine players on stage. I guess this isn’t strictly an orchestra, but a large chamber ensemble, where the presence of each player can really be felt. You will be able to hear each individual player shine through and make their own statement. I hope we will therefore dismantle any stuffy titles and distinctions within the group, such as ‘principal’ and ‘tutti’. With a nimble group of this size, we can highlight intricate details in each score whilst still presenting a robust and unified string sound. The ensemble is equally suited to the detailed textures of Illumine by Anna Thorvaldsdottir and, on the other hand, the sweeping harmonies of nyepi by Olafur Arnalds.
Like our program last year, this concert also takes off with a short work by Jessie Montgomery. Starburst is the perfect piece in a show featuring Australia’s up-and-coming stars in music. Jessie writes about her work as follows:
“This brief one-movement work for string orchestra is a play on the imagery of rapidly changing musical colours. Exploding gestures are juxtaposed with gentle fleeting melodies in an attempt to create a multidimensional soundscape. A common definition of a starburst: “the rapid formation of large numbers of new stars in a galaxy at a rate high enough to alter the structure of the galaxy significantly.
- Written by Timo-Veikko Valve
Experience the energy of a new generation of musicians and composers as five string players from ANAM join musicians from the ACO.
The all-contemporary program juxtaposes music from America alongside more serene sounds from Iceland and Finland, directed from the cello by the ACO’s very own Finnish Principal Cello, Timo-Veikko ‘Tipi’ Valve.From New York to Northern Lights: ACO & ANAM, directed by ACO Principal Cello Timo-Veikko Valve, showcases the brightest new-generation composers, including Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli and Ólafur Arnalds - Sunday 5 March, 7pm (ACO Pier 2/3) & Monday 6 March, 7.30pm (Abbotsford Convent).