22 November 2014

Celebrating Relativity

The Canberra International Music Festival always has a theme, and this coming year it's the centenary of Einstein and General Relativity. Only in Canberra, although Relativity is more general than may be otherwise recognised. Why only Canberra? Because this is a city of universities (ANU, UC, ADFA/UNSW, ACU, CSU) as well as a city of CSIRO, Mt Stromlo, our Nobel Brian Schmidt, let alone various arms of government (which are not all security related, even if Howard's memorial as the second largest building in Canberra is the still-unoccupied ASIO building, amusingly built in the shape of a parabolic dish aimed at Parliament House! Did no-one see the symbolism on paper? More worrying, perhaps someone did). But we can be proud of our CIMF. The launch was in the Shine Dome, the saucer-shaped headquarters of the Australian Institute of Science (yes, Virginia, they recognise climate change, and yes, Virginia, Quadrant has questioned their integrity). Alex Raupach was improvising as we entered. The speakers were from the Committee but also physicist John Rayner who explained that the intellectual prompt for General relativity is our inability to tell the difference between gravity and acceleration. Then on through maths and spiritual dimensions and the parallel tumult in music and physics in the early C20th and space / time and Newton / Einstein and determinism / probabilistics, and strings and the GUT. Fascinating. Then Emma Rayner with a Bach cello suite, played beautifully and perfectly fitting this formal but intriguing space. Come to think of it, some of the wall is actually string (!) so I guess string theory is doubly apt (and even predicted) here. Then music director Roland Peelman who introduced each work over each day. The program is on the website, but I noted the complete Beethoven piano sonatas in 8 concerts, Bach of course, Brian Schmidt at Stromlo, ANUSM graduate now La Hague resident Kate More as composer in residence, Andrew Ford with Imant Tillers projections in a commission by Barbara Blackman, Sculthorpe and Brahms and kids concerts and Ensemble Offspring playing Philip Glass' Music in Twelve parts (over 3 hours non-stop) and overboarders Deb Conway / Willy Zygier. Plenty more; see the program. Add some wine and cheese and we're looking forward to another exceptional gathering. Canberra International Music Festival; with new MD; 1-10 May; deeply satisfying music with cerebral affinities.

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