Upcoming Kupka concert

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The next thing (there’s always a next thing!) I’m playing in is a concert of French modernism and Brisbane newbies – our ensemble Kupka’s Piano playing Grisey, Boulez, Brisbane at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.

The ensemble is a Pierrot + percussion (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion and soprano), plus we include our three composer members, one of whom is also our conductor, Mr Peter Clark. Peter has recently returned from the Lucerne Festival Academy where he participated in conducting workshops with Pierre Boulez himself! So very exciting, and now we’re all getting to benefit from it, as he has a very clear idea of Boulez’ piece, Derive I, after having discussed it with the composer.

This is the first really big modernist ensemble classic that we’re attempting as an ensemble, and it presents some seriously notey challenges in all its tight-knit filigree. In such an ensemble (this is all of us save our soprano, Tabatha, who’ll be performing some breathtaking Messiaen songs) balance can be an issue, especially when the flute is nearly always in the low register – and in the this piece the flute spends a lot of time in the low register. There’s only one time where I really have to worry about being a bit quieter, on a high E-F trill! The rest of the time, I’m practising my most bolshy low E-flats and Cs.

Alongside these big-name French composers, our three composers have all written works – two solos, for Mac (clarinet) and myself by Peter and Michael Mathieson-Sandars, plus Liam’s trio for flute, clarinet and vibraphone. I dare say that these three works are some of the most adventurous you’ll hear coming out of young Australian composers today. Pete’s is a rendering of Berio’s clarinet Sequenza, which strays quite a way from the original. In Michael’s, snatches of leaping lyricism are interrupted by percussive gestures (they’ll really pop in the space we’re playing in!). And Liam’s trio (“Esprit Rouge”, hehe) combines Carter-esque rhythmic interplay with his own developing harmonic language.

It’s a concert I’m really looking forward to, and with any luck there’ll be many more in this vein. We’ve got plans for a four-concert season in 2013, a “world tour” of sorts, where we “visit” some other musical centres as we have Paris here. Perhaps Italy, the Americas, South East Asia, and the UK…

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