Season Preview: Your guide to the arts in 2021

Musica Viva Australia has announced a preview of its 2021 season, featuring several programs rescued from 2020, plenty of Australian artists, as well as a staged presentation of Artistic Director Paul Kildea’s book Chopin’s Piano. The season is Kildea’s first as Artistic Director, following on from Carl Vine, and had to be completely reworked (with at least one large project bumped to 2022, Kildea reveals) to accommodate the changed landscape caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the mainstage tours have been announced, more details of the programs will be revealed through videos, podcasts and articles on the Musica Viva website in the lead up to tickets going on sale on 21 January.

Paul Kildea. Photo © Penny Bradfield

“Out of this terrible year, we wanted to create something optimistic and thrilling, filled with pride and imagination,” Kildea said.

“The first tour is one that we really wanted to keep from this year,” Kildea says in a video interview with Andrea Goldsmith. “Astonishing musician” oboist Diana Doherty will tour in March, premiering a new work by Lachlan Skipworth alongside Martinů’s Quartet for oboe, violin, cello and piano, and written for the same forces. While the 2020 tour was originally to have featured the Eggner Trio, Australia’s Streeton Trio will be touring with Doherty in 2021.

Diana DohertyDiana Doherty. Photo © Christie Brewster

Pianist Konstantin Shamray and the Australian National Academy of Music’s orchestra, led by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Sophie Rowell, will tour in April and May. The tour features an orchestral arrangement – by Musica Viva FutureMaker Harry Ward – of Mahler’s Piano Quartet, written when the composer was a teenager, alongside Schnittke’s “fiendishly difficult, impossible to play” – as Kildea puts it – Concerto for Piano and Strings.

The third tour for the year, in June, will feature French hornist Nicolas Fleury, violinist Emily Sun and pianist Amir Farid performing Mozart and Brahms horn trios, before recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey teams up with harpist Marshall Mcguire in July for a program, drawn from a recording project by the pair, that spans music from the 14th century through to five works by Australian composers, commissioned by Lacey to reflect on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She’s just this most beautiful, virtuosic musician and manages to speak with so many voices through those instruments,” Kildea says of Lacey.

Ensemble Q, Queensland Conservatorium’s Ensemble in Residence, will tour in August, in a program featuring Paul Dean’s Concert for Cello and Wind Quintet, with Trish Dean – for whom the work was composed in 2018 – as soloist.

In another concert rescued from the 2020 season, pianist Piers Lane will join the Golder String Quartet (this year’s tour was to have been a celebration of the quartet’s 25th anniversary) in September and October to perform music by Dvořák, Korngold, Brahms and Elgar, as well as the world premiere of a new commission by Jakub Jankowski.

The season will come to a close in November with pianist Aura Go – a former Musica Viva FutureMaker – performing in a staged presentation of Kildea’s book Chopin’s Piano, directed by Richard Pyros.

Aura GoPianist Aura Go. Photo © Keith Saunders

“I want to tell the story of, of course, the piano on which Chopin wrote and completed the Preludes, but a number of other things as well, a Scherzo, one of the Ballades,” Kildea says. “What happened to that piano, what happened to the music he wrote on it, also what happened to Chopin since his death.”

“The people telling the story are George Sand, Chopin’s lover, and then in the 20th century Wanda Landowska, the great Polish harpsichordist who acquires the piano, and then of course the piano gets caught up in all the machinations and villainy and criminality of Nazi Germany. So it’s a very interesting story.”

While the organisation is yet to reveal the fate of commissions by Elizabeth Younan, Clare Maclean and Paul Stanhope – all intended for specific international touring artists – whose performances had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, more details about the programming on the 2021 season will be revealed over the coming weeks.

“‘I really love the art of curating – of thinking that, by pairing these artists together, a special chemical reaction might happen,” Kildea says. “That’s what’s so exciting about the whole year.”

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