For more than 30 years now I have been exploring the music of the French baroque, and particularly the music of that era written for the viola da gamba. This is not the kind of artistic passion that brings with it a huge audience, but it is my calling!
Although I trained in Europe, I live in Australia and I have always sought to engage with my country of origin and the music of our times, not just that written hundreds of years ago. I am part of the Historically Informed Performance (HIP) movement, but I also look beyond it. This is the case with my acoustic ensemble, The Marais Project, my electric viola da gamba band, Elysian Fields, and with my Music Viva in Schools group, Da Vinci’s Apprentice. The latter, for example, tours a musical theatre work for children composed by the Australian composer, Sally Greenaway, and performed on historic instruments – cornetto, theorbo, and viola da gamba.
Old meets New when The Marais Project launches its 2021 season. Fresh from a successful appearance on Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, and the release of their new recording, ‘Two’, The Marais Project launches its 2021 Season with a distinctive pairing of the Old World Europe and music from the Australian continent when it presents ‘The Art of Monody.’
‘Around 1600 Italian composers decided to break free from composing polyphony (music for many voices, often written for the Church) and started to write for a single voice with instrumental accompaniment,’ Marais Project Artistic Director, Jenny Eriksson commented. ‘This new style of music was called monody, ‘mono’ meaning one voice. It was the beginning of opera as we know it, but it was also the commencement of the kind of songcraft that developed during the baroque and classical eras and continues to this day.’
The concert’s title also refers to a new work written for the group by Australian composer, Gordon Kerry, titled ‘Christchurch Monody.’ A setting of texts from the books of Ecclesiastes from the Old Testament, Christchurch Monody was, according to Kerry ‘A response to several recent appalling acts of violence.’ We were supposed to premiere this important piece in 2020 but our season was cancelled of course,’ Eriksson reflected.
Also on the program is a suite by Marin Marais, arias by the Italian master, Monteverdi as well as two songs by Isaac Nathan, the early 19th century father of Australian music – a quite special coupling. Tommie Andersson’s arrangement for gallichon (bass lute) of pieces from Handel’s ‘The Musical Clock’ also features as does Llew and Mara Kiek’s version of ‘The Streets of Forbes’. Commissioned by Eriksson several years ago, this folksong tells the story of the infamous Australian bushranger, Ben Hall.
This the kind of diverse, ‘not to be missed’ program for which The Marais Project has developed a national reputation!
PLUS! On 14th April 2021, the new Marais Project recording, ‘Two’ will be released on MOVE Records. | Available from MOVE Records, Buywell Music, iTunes, and streaming platforms including Apple Music and Spotify
Featured image : The Marais Project. Photo by Christopher Hayles.
Sydney Arts Guide has three CDs of the Marais Project’s new CD entitled ‘Two’. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with THE MARAIS PROJECT TWO PROMOTION in the subject heading and your postal address in the body of your email. Winners will be advised by email.
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