The Hush Foundation has been doing wonderful work with The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne for nearly 20 years. Their modus operandi is to make the experience of being in hospitals less unpleasant for young people, and so they commission composers to write music designed to calm fears. This disc (volume 18!) pairs six well-known Australian composers (Matthew Hindson, Maria Grenfell, Paul Stanhope, Elena Kats-Chernin, and James Ledger) with six early-career composers (Rachel Bruerville, Natalie Nicolas, Thomas Misson, Katia Beaugeais, Caerwen Martin, and Olivia Bettina Davis). The works on this disc were written after the composers spent time with teenagers in mental health wards, and are performed by the ACO Collective, the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s regional touring/education offshoot.
So, definitely a good thing! I love the combination of young performers playing music written for young people in need. Several of the ACO Collective players comment in the liner notes that the recording process was ultimately very moving and cathartic for them. The performances by the ACO Collective are uniformly wonderful, but several pieces stuck out. Bruerville’s lovely Dancing on Tiptoes is a charming introduction to the disc, with pizzicato strings providing counterpoint to an aching melody line, and Hindson’s Nothing is Forever contrasts thick masses of strings and thinner textures to great effect. Kats-Chernin’s Moon Feather Magic is indeed magical.
If I had a criticism, it would be that several pieces seem to sit in a very similar sound-world, without anything going on that’s too fast-paced or dissonant. I can completely understand the reasoning for this stylistic approach, since, as mood-setting, I suspect that that’s not a huge issue. However, listening to the disc in one sitting does run the
risk of pieces losing their individuality. It’s so incredibly important to highlight youth mental health issues, so buy a copy, and support a good cause.
Composer: Matthew Hindson, Maria Grenfell, Paul Stanhope, Elena Kats-Chernin, James Ledger, Rachel Bruerville, Natalie Nicolas, Thomas Misson, Katia Beaugeais, Caerwen Martin, and Olivia Bettina Davis
Performer: ACO Collective
Catalogue Number: ABC 4817374