The Marais Project

The Marais Project


What an extraordinary few weeks we’ve had!

Sally. Pic by Bill Crew

As individuals, organisations and as a society, how do we best move forward in world where so much has stopped or slowed almost to a standstill? I am particularly concerned for the arts community, its practitioners, technical experts and other professionals who have suddenly lost their livelihoods and reason for being. I am also concerned for our audiences, those who find nourishment, entertainment and enlightenment through the arts. My thoughts below are formulated not as some kind of universal panacea, but as principles to guide our everyday lives in the months to come.

Unprecedented times

Elysian Fields (Photo – Philip Pogson)

The times really are almost unprecedented. I suspect we have to go back to World War II (WWII) to find a parallel to the kind of national and international disruption, pain and suffering we are facing at the moment. Both my parents were born in 1931. Their early childhood years were thus at the tail end of the Great Depression. They entered their teens in the midst of a global war of awful violence and human misery. It was hard. There was rationing and the possibility of invasion. Brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers went off to war or were seconded to work in war industries. My dad is the youngest in his family and one of his brothers, my uncle, fought in the Pacific and survived. The point is, they came through as did the greater majority of Australians of that generation. We are their heirs. We will also come through and rebuild on the other side. Some reflections follow that I hope are encouraging.

Lead when and as we are able

Whatever our role and status, now is the time for us to exercise leadership in any way we are able. I don’t necessarily mean “Big L” Leadership: few of us will be called to be a Premier, Prime Minister or a CEO. I am referring to the leadership opportunities that come our way in everyday life. Over the next weeks and months we will need people right across our community who can acknowledge uncertainty but think clearly, respond with compassion and remain task focused. As a business advisor, company director and school Chair, I see teachers, business people, University staff, health experts, friends, artists and family acting this way already. On the flip side, these are stressful times. Our way of life has changed with a violent lurch and we are not sure where we are lurching to. For myself, I am working on being aware of, and not ignoring, my own anxiety and tiredness. I am also keeping up and expanding while I am able my exercise routines and making sure I have a list of things to do that I enjoy.

Avoid blame and finger pointing

Beyond a certain point, spending our energies pointing out what others are doing wrong, where they are acting inconsistently or not meeting our expectations is not productive. Leaving aside those in the health sector whose working lives have by their very nature changed in a moment, we should keep in mind that our Premier, senior ministers, business and community leaders and Prime Minister will be working extraordinarily long hours under exceptional pressure. These people are human and thus imperfect – just like us. They also have families and loved ones they will be hardly seeing and no doubt worrying about – just like us. Now is not the time to fight arguments on social media and relentlessly criticise others, particularly those with “Big L” leadership roles. Now is the time for our community to seek unity and goodwill and ensure that the majority of our citizens, including the poor and needy, come through this as best they can.

Look to and plan for the future

All Auras Touch

As I noted, WWII came to an end as did WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1919. Humankind is resilient and creative. We can choose to be our best in a crisis or choose the opposite.

The arts have a crucial role to play in our society, even when governments and others in authority do not recognise, or seek to minimise, our contribution. We must plan now to come through this, and out the other side, stronger and more resilient if and as we are able. Some will struggle. Some are struggling now. It should not be a matter of survival of the fittest, but of seeking to bring as many people and organisations through as possible. That should be our pledge to each other and to society at large.

Philip Pogson FAICD, Director, The Leading Partnership

Joint Managing Director The Marais Project, Elysian Fields and Da Vinci’s Apprentice


“Art proves it value by still mattering to people who have been deprived of every other freedom.” – Clive James

Leadership’s unlikely candidates

In 1995 painter Arthur Boyd was named Australian of the Year for his “extraordinary contribution to Australian art and his great generosity to the Australian nation.” Particularly admired in the UK and Australia, Boyd is so celebrated that one of his tapestries is on display in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra. In 1993 he gifted to the nation several thousand artworks from his personal collection. He also donated to the Australian people his property, Bundanon, on the Shoalhaven River near Nowra, several hours south of Sydney. Bundanon is managed by Bundanon Trust as a not for profit artists’ retreat complete with accommodation, galleries and concert venues. Those who visit cannot but be inspired by the scenery, the artworks on display and the generosity of the artist in signing away something that must have been precious to him and is family.            Continue reading ARTISTS AS LEADERS : CELEBRATING THE ROLE OF HEROIC ANTIHEROES


A very exciting and quite intriguing concert formed the latest of the Prelude in Tea series, The Marais Project and Elysian Fields in TIMES AND SEASONS .

The first half celebrated the twenty years since The Marais Project was founded and also heralded the release of a new CD on Marin Marais’ 363rd birthday on May 31. (1656-1728) From humble beginnings in 2000, The Marais Project has become a national leader in the creative presentation of music for the viola da gamba. Led by Jennifer Eriksson, while specialising in the French baroque period, the ensemble’s repertoire has expanded to include new Australian works and sophisticated arrangements of folk music as documented in 6 CDs, several of which were launched at The Independent Theatre .For this performance the Marais Project consisted of Belinda Montgomery ( soprano), Leif Henrikson ,( viol) Tommie Anderson ( lute/theorbo),  Jennifer Eriksson ( viol), Catherine Upex( cello) and Susie Bishop ( soprano, violin) . Continue reading PRELUDE IN TEA : MARAIS PROJECT : TIME AND SEASONS


The release of WHAT SHOULD I SAY, by Elysian Fields, Australia’s only electric viola da gamba band, heralds the creation of a new and unique musical voice.

Elysian Fields is the brainchild of viola da gambist, Jenny Eriksson, and leading jazz musicians, Matt Keegan, saxophones, and Matt McMahon, piano.

The album takes its name from the central piece, a remarkable new song cycle by pianist and band member, Matt McMahon,
which sets four poems by Thomas Wyatt – courtier and lyric 16th century poet at the court of King Henry VIII – reputed lover of Queen Anne Boleyn, to music. Also featured is ‘Elysium’, an epic work by Matt Keegan and an original chart by bassist, Siebe Pogson. Continue reading SUPERB LISTENING: ELYSIAN FIELDS’ DEBUT CD


Above: Soprano Josie Ryan and Tommie Andersson – lutes, baroque guitar and theorbo.                     Featured image : Jennifer Eriksson, viola da gamba and Tim Blomfield, bass violin.

Any concert event from The Marais Project is joyous as well as being a richly educational and diverse entertainment. ‘A Bass Affair’ at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music celebrated this tradition and historically informed performance goals. Gambist Jennifer Eriksson once more assembled early music performers of high calibre and nicely contrasted music from the seventeenth and eighteenth

The music was presented for us using a wealth of timbres from the combination of guest Tim Blomfield’s bass violin, Jennifer Eriksson’s viola da gamba, Josie Ryan’s soprano voice, and from Tommie Andersson playing no less than two lutes, baroque guitar and theorbo.

An exciting part of this concert was the first time collaboration at a Marais Project concert of Eriksson’s viola da gamba and Blomfield’s bass violin. The two instruments blended keenly and helped highlight the character and communicative strengths of each other’s musical identity so popular in French musical history. Continue reading THE MARAIS PROJECT : A BASS AFFAIR @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC


Music for bass viol and bass violin

Jenny Eriksson

Most early music fans are aware that the viola da gamba is also known as the bass viol. It is less well known, perhaps, that there is also such an instrument as the bass violin, also known as the ‘basse de violon’. The bass viol and bass violin were mainstays in French baroque music and featured in the Court orchestra of King Louis XIV. For this concert The Marais Project welcomes Tim Blomfield, one of Australia’s finest bass violinists and co-founder of Sydney’s long standing and highly respected early music ensemble, Salut! Baroque.  The Sunday afternoon program will feature a cantata by Montéclair, music by Marais – with the bass violin providing the continuo – and other works that show off the complementary and contrasting aspects of the two instruments. Continue reading THE MARAIS PROJECT PRESENTS ‘A BASS AFFAIR’


This image: Elysian Fields – featuring electric viola da gamba
Banner image: Viola da gambist Jenny Eriksson

Early music specialists, The Marais Project, and electric viola da gamba ensemble, Elysian Fields, both led by the versatile Jenny Eriksson, return to The Independent Theatre on January 28, 2018 in a once off program titled, “My heart so grieves”Continue reading MY HEART SO GRIEVES: PART OF ‘PRELUDE IN TEA’

The Marais Project : Re-Imaginings: Review

Bassist Siebe Pogson. Photo by Natasha Civijovski
Bassist Siebe Pogson. Photo by Natasha Civijovski

2014 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the commencement of THE MARIAS PROJECT. This institution, in which viola da gambist Jennifer Eriksson with her contemporaries in early music performance set out to perform the entire oeuvre of Marin Marais has already performed eighty-five per cent of Marais’ total output.

The last fifteen years of the Marais Project have put a very pleasurable focus on the agility and sonority of the viola da gamba as well as early music concert programming. Continue reading The Marais Project : Re-Imaginings: Review

The Marais Project: Re-Imaginings: Preview

Jenny 5 (1)
Jenny Eriksson will debut her Ruby Electric Viola de Gamba at the upcoming concert

2014 is a special year for viola da gambist, Jenny Eriksson as her group The Marais Project celebrates 15 years of continuous operation.  The theme for The Marais Project’s anniversary year is Re-imaginings, which is also the title of their final concert for 2014.

Alongside music for the conventional viola da gamba and harpsichord, Re-Imaginings will see the formal debut of Jenny’s Ruby Electric Viola da Gamba which is believed to be the only instrument of its kind in Australia.         Continue reading The Marais Project: Re-Imaginings: Preview

The Marais Project: Collusion at the Con: Preview

For the Marais Project’s next concert COLLUSION, Artistic Director Jennifer Erickson has invited along singer and violinist, Susie Bishop and pianist and piano accordionist, Emily-Rose Šárkova to join her in what is going to be an amazing adventure. 

“Young performers of the caliber and versatility of Susie and Emily-Rose are a rarity”, Eriksson stated, “Classically trained here and in Europe, but equally at home across a range of genres including tango, world music and modern folk, they are part of a talented new generation of musicians who are renewing and re-vitalising fine music.”

Continue reading The Marais Project: Collusion at the Con: Preview

The Marais Project: Dowland In The 21st Century: Review

Seaven Teares (l to r)- Shaun Ng, Imogen Granwal, Jenny Eriksson, Cathy Upex

The striking setting of Sydney University’s Refactory suitably housed this special tribute to composer John Dowland. The aesthetic suited the styles of the music, and the acoustic was a true gift for this birthday bash.

Special guests attended this party. Virtuosi Tommie Anderson (lute) and Daniel Yeadon (treble viol) augmented the solid ensemble. Soprano Belinda Montgomery beautifully brought Dowland’s emotional and joyous intensities to life, and freshly to our time, above a range of accompaniment textures.      

Continue reading The Marais Project: Dowland In The 21st Century: Review