“I didn’t think we would last 12 months, let alone two decades”, says Jenny Eriksson, founder of The Marais Project, one of the few Australian ensembles built around the viola da gamba, a rare 7 string cello-like instrument with frets, interest in which peaked in France around the time of King Louis XIV. The Marais Project’s output over the past 20 years has been impressive: 6 CDs and a 7th recording with Eriksson’s electric viola da gamba group, Elysian Fields. There have also been appearances at festivals, a tour to New Zealand and numerous media interviews and studio performances. Along the way Jenny has commissioned and premiered more than 25 new Australian compositions and given some 3000 performances with Musica Viva in Schools.

As the name implies, the 20th Anniversary CD has a festive theme and includes several world premieres, not the least of which is Eriksson’s own composition, The Garden Party. In addition, there is a superb arrangement of a Marais suite for viola da gamba and piano accordion by Emily-Rose Šárkova. As well as playing the piano accordion on the recording Šárkova also arranged the two extroverted South American songs which close the recording.

Woven between the newly recorded repertoire, which makes up more than 50% of the track list, Eriksson and Producer Llew Kiek have selected music from previous Marais Project CDs. The earlier material spans from the French baroque to Swedish folk song and serves to illustrate the broad range of musical styles and cultures the group embraces . Long term Marais Project sound engineer, Chris Doherty, prepared the whole CD for mastering by Michael Lynch.

“The Garden Party summarises our first 20 years and provides a launching pad for the years to come”, Eriksson commented. “The newly recorded material features upcoming artists in Susie Bishop, voice/violin, Emily-Rose Šárkova, piano accordion, and Elsen Price, double bass along with long term Marais Project member, Tommie Andersson, theorbo/baroque guitar. The re-released tracks include performances by Belinda Montgomery, soprano, Cathy Upex and Danny Yeadon, viola da gamba, Melissa Farrow, baroque flute, Fiona Ziegler, baroque violin, Pascal Herington, tenor and Chris Berensen, harpsichord. I hope audience will love it, we had a ball making it!”

Sydney Arts Guide has one CD of The Garden Party and a double pass to give away to the concert taking place at the Independent Theatre on Sunday afternoon  May 26, 2019.

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