Ensemble Offspring: Hatched
Music Workshop, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Thursday, October 30 at 8pm
Callum G’Froerer, trumpet/ Jeremy Rose, saxophone/ Claire Edwardes, percussion/ Jason Noble, clarinet/ Lamorna Nightingale, flute
The Hatched Academy has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for its two inaugural ‘hatchlings’, Melbourne-based trumpeter Callum G’Froerer and composer/saxophonist Jeremy Rose. Ensemble Offspring artistic directors Claire Edwardes and Damien Ricketson launched the Academy earlier this year, with a view to finding virtuosic young musicians with whom the ensemble could collaborate over the course of 2014.
This concert was the end result of that collaboration, and through a number of exciting world premieres, G’Froerer and Rose were afforded the opportunity to demonstrate their frankly astonishing ensemble and musicianship skills, which have been honed and refined under the tutelage of this world-class ensemble.
The Australian premiere of Stockhausen’s QUITT for flute, clarinet and trumpet left the audience with little doubt that the evening was to be all about new music. The three sustained melodic lines explored the deep chasm of ‘microtones’, barely perceptible pitch deviations that lie between equal temperament. The performance was poised, controlled and engaging, with the three musicians displaying seemingly limitless breath supply as a unison tone slowly unravelled into a squall of squeaks and flutter tongue.
Cor Fuhler’s improvisatory Tinderbox, for the full ensemble, manifested itself as gently glowing spheres of sound, crafted from curtains of dissonant intervals through which soft consonance would occasionally peer. The composer’s juxtaposition of reedy tone colours against pristine vibraphone and trumpet sounds proved to be an effective one.
A new work by hatchling Jeremy Rose, Rites for percussion and trumpet, was multifaceted and introspective. G’Froerer and Edwardes were in absolute control of Rose’s music, which recalled Miles Davis during his most creative periods. The micro- and multi-tonal trumpet sketches floated over a bed of percussion, like a backing band that has been stripped away, digitally altered and put back together at random.
Matthias Pincher’s Shining Forth for solo trumpet was ably handled by Callum G’Froerer, demonstrating the trumpet’s full range from barely audible to deafeningly histrionic. G’Froerer displayed a maturity beyond his years as he allowed the brass colours to throb and breathe, creating a blank canvas for the listener’s imagination.
Claire Edwardes was given the spotlight in Amanda Cole’s Objectified for prepared marimba and cowbells. Rubber bands tied around several of the marimba bars created a rattlesnake hiss with an interjecting, internal rhythm which somehow felt extraneous to the other sounds – a very striking effect. The melodic and rhythmic potential of the marimba were on full display in this composition, which blended cyclical, minimalist patterns with the rich pentatonic inflections of the gamelan. Edwardes, as usual, played and sounded like she had a symphony orchestra at her fingertips (or should that be mallet-tips?).
Cor Fuhler’s Empty Gizzards, meanwhile, was a modular work in which the structure was controlled by gestures from G’Froerer; serene episodes would explode into madcap improvisations with the wave of a hand. Extreme and frequent shifts in dynamic and texture made for a performance that came across like a series of hugely enjoyable heart attacks.
Concluding and summing up the evening was a second new work from Jeremy Rose, Border Control. Built on the entrancing rhythmic framework of a bass clarinet ostinato in 7/4, the dramatic architecture of the introductory movement was consummately assembled and well-rehearsed. A middle section teased out a melodic idea enveloped in savoury vibraphone, with Miles Davis’ Blue in Green coming to mind. The third and most rhythmic movement of the set comprised a series of descending, additive triplet gestures; the playing was remarkably articulate and precise, never mired in the music’s rhythmic complexity but revelling in it.
Edwardes and Ricketson have done a noble thing in founding the Hatched Academy – what could be more important than passing on their twenty years of ensemble experience to a new generation? It bodes well for the future of music in Australia that musicians as well-developed as Callum G’Froerer and Jeremy Rose are able to be given such valuable opportunities to enhance their skills, and to bring their talents to music lovers worldwide.
Luke Iredale for SoundsLikeSydney©
Luke is a choral tenor, clarinetist and writer, and earns a crust working in Arts Management with UNSW’s Music Performance Unit. He enjoys the music of Schubert, Howells, Dylan and Hetfield.