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BWW Review: GLITTERING WAVES: ARTARIA LAUNCH CONCERT at North Adelaide Baptist Church

This was a concert to launch Artaria.

BWW Review: GLITTERING WAVES: ARTARIA LAUNCH CONCERT at North Adelaide Baptist Church Reviewed by Ewart Shaw, Monday 1st March 2021.

Glorious organ music was pouring out the doors and tumbling down the steps of the North Adelaide Baptist Church when I arrived. I hate being late but was sure that I was at least a few minutes early. It turned out that what I was hearing was described in the program as "walk in music". Had I known that, I'd have arrived in time for the start of Josh van Konkelenburg's sterling performance of the Bach Toccata in F, BWV 540.

This was Glittering Waves, a concert to launch Artaria. I quote the concert program. Artaria promises to deliver "South Australia to the world through unforgettable audiovisual performances and innovative education programs." It's a big promise indeed.

Let's get to the music. Celia Craig, with a continuo of 'cello, Tom Marlin, and organ, Josh Van Konkelenberg, began with the Handel Oboe Sonata in F, HWV363a, five short movements delivered with style. Rosalind Martin sang three arias by Bach, from his catalogue of cantatas with oboe obbligato, and two of Handel's German arias. He's better known for his work in Italian and English.

The last of them, Das Zitternde Glanzen, HWV 203, inspired the concerts title. I was perched high up in the back row, so some of Rosalind Martin's words got lost, but the voice is clear, and the coloratura, in the music of both composers, was dispatched elegantly. One of the highlights of the concert was the performance of eight short settings of William Blake by Ralph Vaughan Williams, for oboe and voice. Seek them out on YouTube, they are delicious. I always wondered how you could create a work for a singer that didn't have a keyboard as part of the ensemble. RVW makes it so easy.

Graham Koehne's deftly crafted To His Servant Bach God Grants a Final Glimpse, the Morning Star, can be performed by many different ensembles. Van Konkelenberg's performance was beautifully balanced. It was the variations on Wie Schon Leuchtet Der Morgenstern, by French organist, Naji Hakim, that could have brought the house down. Celia Craig stood above the organ at the pulpit and poured forth torrents of sound over Van Konkelenberg's organ playing. It was truly exhilarating. Throughout the concert, 'cellist, Tom Marlin, was a sensitive accompanist, even lending a hand for the organ registrations.

I'd have filed this review within 24 hours except that I felt it was significant enough to warrant a little more exploration of Artaria. It's a broad-ranging musical enterprise headed by oboist Celia Craig. I interviewed her for Arts on Air, 5EBI FM Mondays at 4 pm. I recognized the name, Artaria. It was the publishing house that dealt with Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. The publisher is an important link between composers and musicians but, as Celia Craig explained, this new Artaria is about more than performance and recognition.

"To be very honest, it's about the income as well, because publishers are where composers make their money, and I want composers and artists to be able to make a decent living, out of being musicians and, of course, now we're more digital, we've got broadcast income, and those sorts of income from copyright, and those sorts of things." She sees the fluid ensemble under the Artaria label as more of a collective of performers at the highest level. "How are these people going to be rewarded for what they do, if it's not with a salary from some group?"

The project has, so far, recorded three CDs, with more to come, featuring artists such as Konstantin Shamray, a winner of the Sydney International Piano Competition and lecturer in piano at the Elder Conservatorium

Celia Craig has formed a relationship with the National Trust, allowing the ensemble the chance to play in listed buildings and historic homesteads. The interview and selections from the recordings will feature on 5EBI after the Festival and Fringe.

The interview and selections from the published CDs will be broadcast on 5EBI FM after the Festival and Fringe.


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