05 March 2009

To the Moon and back again

The Canberra International Music Festival certainly is aiming high this year! I may jest, but they certainly are aiming to be a major festival, and what I’ve seen is impressive.

I’ve just attended the launch of the program for this year’s CIMF. It was a busy affair at Pialligo with plants all around and a crowd of classical enthusiasts. There were speeches by Don Aitken and Festival Director, Chris Latham (as well as nice wines, of course). The feature of the night was a presentation of sketches from a bigger work by Elena Kats-Chernin which will have its premiere at the National Museum during the festival. I say a sketch, because it’s to be played by goodly set of players, rather than just piano. Elena introduced the piece, discussed the various parts, and played one part and snippets from some others. It was a wonderfully intimate experience, which is perhaps enjoyed regularly by students, but not one most listeners get to experience. Much enjoyed. And it was surprising to me just how relevant and close this music was to the modern jazz that I mostly hear. There were some occasional chordal movements that were unexpected, but mostly they would have been at home in the music I know. Also, the interpretation was written as dots rather than improvised, but again, was not madly different from my jazz. I’d had this feeling with Marcela Fiorillo when she played Piazolla. Modern Western musics are increasingly intermingling, and also various world musics. This was just a confirmation to me. I found it very a satisfying piece and a very intimate and memorable experience.

BTW, CIMF has a few jazz events of note. One is a multimedia piece with film and jazz. It features an array of renowned Australian jazz players (Phil Slater, Matt McMahon, Carl Dewhurst, Simon Barker, Steve Elphick, Bill Risby) with several players who I think are from other fields (Timothy Constable, Michael Askill, Bob Scott, Chris Latham). The show is called “From the Earth to the Moon and back again”, and is a celebration of the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the Moon landings in 1969. A similar set of players also present the Sculthorpe Songbook, a show that reimagines Sculthorpe's music as jazz standards. There's also a History of Sound which features several of our local jazzers surveying the evolution of music for this year, Darwin's 200th anniversary.

  • Canberra International Music Festival
  • Elena Kats-Chernin on MySpace (listen)
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