22 July 2013

200 days and counting

The Canberra 100 Musical Offering has reached 200 days and over 300 musical events. It’s a huge success. To celebrate, die-hards attended a short concert at the Ainslie Arts Centre. And what wonderful quality this was! These were top local professionals, presumably gathered by Louise Page, active as she is in these matters. And it was a intriguingly mixed program. Firstly, Louise Page singing a castrato role from Massenet’s Manon with Meriel Owen accompanying on piano.
Louise asked us to imagine. Then He was beautiful, Stanley Myer’s popular tune. It’s a vocalisation of Cavatina, the guitar theme to the film, the Deer Hunter, so it was appropriate that Campbell Diamond followed on classical guitar, playing music of José and Scarlatti. This was sharp and beautifully enunciated and a serious presentation after Louise’s pretense. Barbara Jane Gilby and Meriel Owen followed with an Adagio movement from Bruch, all reminiscence and pure, metal-rich violin tone. Then a much softer sound as Meriel moved to solo harp to play Fauré’s Impromptu. Meriel introduced it as a standard repertoire piece at conservatoria that requires all manner of harp techniques. I enjoyed the lyre-like gentleness of it all. Then a duo of Alys and Emma Rayner (presumably sisters), Alys on violin and Emma on cello, with three duets from Gliere. The first two, Cradle song and Canzonetta, featured ostinato-like cello accompaniment; the final Scherzo granted the cello a more forward part against bouncing violin bowing and some pensive cello melody towards the end. Louise returned with Meriel and Barbara Jane to finish the program. Firstly, with Mozart’s L’amero. Louise implored us to imagine her into another part, this time of a 20-year old in Paris back a few centuries. Then a final gypsy waltz by Stolz. I especially noticed lyrics that raced to rest on a long note that stood against a rapid rising fill from violin. Ah, what pastoral romantic passion is this? A joyous, tempestuous end to a lovely little concert.

This is a great series and it will continue to the end of the year as a gift of very many musicians (5,000 congratulatory stickers are being printed, one for each performer). I know a fair bir about music in this town, but I’m continually surprised by the range and quality of music-making, and there are branches of music I don’t even touch upon. Thanks to these performers, and worthy praise to Don Aitkin and Helen Moore for bringing the Musical Offering together.

Don Aitkin and Helen Moore lead the Canberra 100 Musical Offering project. The performers at this 200th-day anniversary were Louise Page (soprano), Meriel Own (piano, harp), Campbell Diamond (guitar), Barbara Jane Gilby (violin), Alys Rayner (violin) and Emma Rayner (cello).

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