Continuing their 15th anniversary celebrations, The Marais Project’s Director, Jennifer Eriksson, combines with versatile young musicians Susie Bishop (violin, treble viol and voice) and Emily-Rose Šárkova (piano, harpsichord and piano accordion) in their August concert entitled Collusion.
Classically trained both in Australia and in Europe, but adept across a range of genres including tango, world music and modern folk, Emily-Rose and Susie are part of a talented new generation of artists who are renewing and revitalising fine music. Featuring a highly original arrangement of the music of Marin Marais by Emily-Rose for viol and piano accordion, songs by Rodrigo and Monteverdi with dramatic dialogue from actress Eliska Sarka, this promised to be a highly original and delightful performance.
Susie and Emily-Rose discussed their upcoming Marais Project concert with Philip Pogson:
Philip Pogson (PP) Emily-Rose and Susie, how did you first meet? Was it “love at first musical sight” or has your artistic collaboration grown over time?
Emily-Rose & Susie (E-R & S): We met at a folk festival tango workshop in 2008. Shortly afterwards we started playing together in a klezma band together. I think there was a definite spark at that time as we both had the same musical ideals and similar interests. Over time, our work together has grown to include a number of different collaborative projects that span numerous musical genres.
PP: You both have diverse musical interests, can you describe your key musical influences?
E-R & S: We do have many interests, however I think for every project that we’re involved in regardless of genre the main thing that we are influenced by is originality. For our classical music endeavours, groups like L’Arpeggiata and indeed the Marais Project, who constantly reinvent and revive classical music, are great inspirations for us. As for styles that might creep into our interpretations, that is very much dependent what music we are performing and how much artistic licence we have at the time. Both of us trained very seriously in classical conservatoriums, spanning early music to modern-day art music, but we have been forever delving into the worlds of jazz, folk, world and song writing.
PP: Along with your classical work, you also collaborate in world music (Chaika) and tango (Tángalo) ensembles. What attracted you to each of these genres?
E-R & S: In regard to Chaika, I think it was both the aesthetic and the challenge. The Balkan music we specialise in can be infectious with its dance rhythms and also deeply moving with its tone colours and atmospheres. Balkan music is also rhythmically intricate and has so much potential for harmonic complexity that we basically have a lot of fun creating something impossibly hard that we have to go away and practise for hours to get it right!
With tango, however, we were drawn to it first through the dancing. We love the theatrics of the tango genre. The biggest challenge is making it dynamic enough to inspire dancers and listeners alike.
PP: Emily-Rose, Jenny has commissioned you to do a first for The Marais Project, an arrangement of Marais for piano accordion and viola da gamba. How have you gone about this rare task and what can audiences expect?
E-R & S: I was not familiar with the Marais pieces before Jenny sent them to me, so I went to my first instrument (the piano) and played them, choosing the movements which caught my attention most. I have been in Turkey whilst arranging the piece (actually without my accordion) and I think both some sounds of Turkey and my jazz influences may have crept in to this arrangement. The essence of the old will remain whilst the timbrel sounds of accordion with viol and a bit of artistic licence will breathe a bit of new life into the music. Audiences can expect it to be beautiful!
PP: Susie, as well as being a very fine singer – many will remember your performance with the Seaven Teares viol consort a couple of years ago – you are a gifted violinist. What role does the violin play in your life?
E-R & S: Violin and singing pretty much go hand in hand for me. They have been my companions for as long as I could read and write so it’s very hard to think of them separately. I suppose as I was growing up violin was my main source of exposure to Celtic and folk music, but these days they both usually find a way of sneaking in to any of the musical projects I’m in.
I’ve also recently really enjoyed branching into early music relatives such as the treble viol and the rebec through my involvement with The Marais Project and with the Renaissance Players.
PP: Finally, what can audiences expect from Collusion on August 24?
E-R & S: I think audiences can expect the unexpected, but if they know the Marais Project, then they’re probably already expecting that!