ACO Open 2018 With Three Soloists, Two Premieres & A Collaboration With ANAM
The Australian Chamber Orchestra are renowned the world over for their adventurous and distinctive programming, that sees reimagined interpretations of celebrated classics stacked alongside performances of ambitious new commissions. In their first national tour for 2018, Artistic Director Richard Tognetti will lead the ACO in a program that continues this exploration of the old and new, through partnering two 19th century greats, Brahms and Tchaikovsky, with the restless energy and ambition of two of today's strongest musical voices, for the world premiere of Brooklyn-based composer Missy Mazzoli's Dark with Excessive Bright and the Australian premiere of UK/US composer Anna Clyne's Prince of Clouds.
ACO Principal Bass Maxime Bibeau will give the world premiere performance of Mazzoli's new double bass concerto, Dark with Excessive Bright, commissioned in celebration of his 20 years with the ACO.
"The repertoire for solo double bass is quite slim, especially when compared with instruments like violin and piano, so I really wanted to take the opportunity to explore and expand the concerto options for the instrument," said Bibeau. "When the ACO gave me the go ahead to approach a composer about writing a new concerto for double bass, I spent a number of months researching, and Missy Mazzoli stood out to me as a composer with a very strong and distinctive voice that I hadn't heard anywhere else. I liked her language right away; her music is imbued with a great range of style, drawing elements from grunge and rock along with classical and baroque influences.
"We met up in Brooklyn two years ago, and have worked together quite closely throughout the concerto's composition. Missy has been very open about bouncing ideas back and forth, and exploring the full range of the instrument - the solo part features these beautiful, soaring melodic lines, alongside some grittier, crunchier moments from both the bass and the orchestra."
Brooklyn-based composer Mazzoli described the concerto as being heavily influenced by Bibeau, as well as the instrument he plays, a late-16th century Gasparo da Salò double bass kindly made available to him by Anonymous Australian benefactors.
"I've worked with Maxime on this piece more than I've ever worked with a soloist," said Mazzoli. "A Contrabass Concerto is a tricky medium in that there are all sorts of potential issues with balance and range, but Maxime was very adventurous and willing to help me come up with innovative solutions.
"I was also inspired in no small part by Maxime's double bass, a massive instrument built in 1580 that was stored in an Italian monastery for hundreds of years and even patched with pages from the Good Friday liturgy. I imagined this instrument as a historian, an object that collected the music of the passing centuries in the twists of its neck and the fibres of its wood, finally emerging into the light at age 400 and singing it all into the world."
The concert will also shine the spotlight on two of the ACO's newest young stars. Violinists Ike See and Glenn Christensen will together perform the Australian premiere of Clyne's Grammy Award-nominated double violin concerto, Prince of Clouds. Described in a profile by the New York Times as "a composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods", Clyne is one of the most innovative and cutting-edge composers writing today. Her double concerto received its world premiere in 2012 and received universal praise from critics, with the New York Times describing the work as 'ravishing'.
This new music from Mazzoli and Clyne will be paired with two of the most beloved pieces of music written for strings: Tchaikovsky's soaring Serenade for Strings and Brahms' Sextet No.2 in G major. The ACO will perform an inspired new arrangement of Brahms' Sextet No.2 in collaboration with students from the Australian National Academy of Music that is so rich, melodic and emotively powerful that Tognetti has dubbed it Brahms' 'Fifth Symphony'.