From 23rd to 27th September the Sydney Conservatorium will be hosting a Festival of Art Song which will feature poems by iconic Australian writers and poets in settings of art songs written by Australian composers. It will be four and a half days packed with recitals and lecture/recitals displaying a range of research topics and introducing new works composed specially for the festival. There will be range of wonderful performances presented by the collaborative piano, vocal and composition units of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, special guests from the Melbourne Conservatorium and Germany, and composers from Australia and Europe. The festival will focus on the relationship between poetry and the musical setting and will also explore the intricate relationship between the voice and piano bringing greater awareness to the role of the pianist in the performance of art songs.
An art song could be described as the perfect combination of music and literature, incorporating four elements: the poetry, composer, singer, and pianist. The composer adopts a poem, immersing the words into a musical setting using his or her own harmonic and melodic language. The song is then a synthesis of music and words, a complete picture, which is then realised by the singer and pianist who create an interpretation both of the music and the poem. Composers and performers often discover hidden meanings that were not obviously explicit in the poet’s words but which lead to a greater understanding of the poem as a whole. The great English accompanist, Dr Graham Johnson, once described art songs as “‘cultural stock-cubes’ – concentrated and easily transportable.” (G. Johnson, cited in D. Wickham’s, ‘The Poet Sings’.) Despite their length, as Dr Johnson’s description so aptly reminds us, like stock cubes art songs can be potent and full of lavour.
This year’s festival aims to not only explore the connection between the four elements of an art song but to particularly focus on the development of the genre in Australian composition. The festival will open on Saturday 23rd September in the evening with a
gala performance presented by Songmakers Australia – Wagner and Baudelaire. Also on the program on Saturday evening will be two trios by Johannes Brahms and Frank Bridge for voice, viola and piano performed by Yanfei Yin, David Howie, and Roger Benedict.
September 24th will be a day to celebrate German Romanticism and is sponsored by the Sydney Schubert Society. 2023 is the 200th anniversary of Die Schὅne Müllerin (Schubert) and like institutions all around the world there will be a performance of this amazing cycle at the festival. Other works to be presented include the cycles of Robert Schumann: Liederkreis (1840) op. 39 (poetry from Joseph Eichendorff), Frauen Liebe und Leben (1840) and Dichterliebe (1840). From Gustav Mahler the Fünf Rückert-lieder (1901-2) (after poems by Friederich Rü ckert) will be performed as well as many other songs by Franz Schubert. There will also be a lecture on German Romanticism by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Goetz Richter. Performers include Andrew Goodwin (tenor), Julie Jong Eun Barber (soprano), Aidan O’Donnell (bass), Leon Vitogiannis (baritone), Cassandra Doyle (mezzo soprano), Georgia Cooper (soprano), Jeanell Carrigan, Eun-Jung Byun, Jamie-Lee Xu, Ashly Zhang, and Joanna Li (piano).
On Day 3 some of the leading Australian composers of the early twentieth century will be featured – Australian Art Song of the Past. Many of the works performed on this day will have been discovered in archival collections in manuscript form and published only recently. These performances will be in many instances the irst ever public performance. Songs include those by Roy Agnew, Linda Phillips, Margaret Sutherland, Frank Hutchens, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Raymond Hansen, Meta Overman, Dorian Le Gallienne, Phyllis Batchelor, Frederick Septimus Kelly, Horace Keats and many more. Performances will be presented by Julie Jong Eun Barber, Narelle Yeo, Michael Halliwell, Wendy Dixon, Janine Harris, Christina Wilson, Jeanell Carrigan, David Miller, Alan Hicks and Theresa Leung.
Day 4 will include works by those Australian contemporary composers who have established a reputation of composers of art song and have works recorded and published. Australian Art Song of the Present. Composers such as George Palmer, John Peterson, Gordon Kerry will discuss their works as part of the presentation in a unique ‘meet the composers’ segment. Performers will include Merlyn Quaife and Andrea Katz from Melbourne, Tanith Bryce, Barry Ryan, Jane Ede, Louise Scott, Jeanell Carrigan, Wendy Dixon and David Miller.
Day 5 will be a performance showcase opportunity for the specialist composition program that is being supervised by Assoc. Prof. Paul Stanhope called Words, Text, Voices, Music. This program will premiere new song cycles composed especially this year by postgraduate students and will be performed by staff members and conservatorium graduate students. There will also be a new work composed by Anna Hueneke with Anna Fraser (mezzo soprano) and Connor Pendelbury (piano) and a special recital presented by Deborah Cheetham Fraillon.
The three days of Australian composition will be of special interest to teachers and students looking for repertoire for HSC exams and Australian composition section in eisteddfods.
The festival will be held at the conservatorium in recital hall west from Saturday 23rd (gala performance at 6.30pm) and for the four days 24th -27th September 10am -5pm each day.
Morning tea/ afternoon tea and lunch will be offered each day to registered patrons. Cost of the whole festival is a Festival Pass @$150 or Day tickets @$50.
Details of booking are: https://bit.ly/SCM-FOAS-2023