Few ensembles in the world are as zealously committed to the commissioning and performing of new music as Melbourne-based trio PLEXUS, comprising Monica Curro (violin), Philip Arkinstall (clarinet) and Stefan Cassomenos (piano). Since their establishment in 2014, they have commissioned over 50 works by Australian and international composers, a phenomenal feat, with many new works lined up for premieres over the next few years. Despite the sheer number and range of commissions by PLEXUS, I was nevertheless thrilled to be given the opportunity to write for these three outstanding and wonderfully versatile pros.
On a cold Wednesday evening in Melbourne, a sold-out audience packed into the Salon of the Melbourne Recital Centre to hear PLEXUS give the premiere of five new works, including my new trio Evocations alongside beautiful pieces by Ed Frazier Davis, Andrew Aronowicz, Andrzej Karalow and Dermot Tutty.
The program opened with Ed's entertaining and often boisterous Tempest Songs, for the expanded forces of the trio plus the Melbourne chamber choir Polyphonic Voices. There was a directness, conviction and humour in Ed's writing which I enjoyed, and the audience's enthusiasm was testament to its engaging structure and range. Then came my Evocations, introverted in comparison but beautifully performed. In four movements, the first and third movements are closely linked 'Incantations', paired with an energetic 'Dance', and a gentle 'Lullaby' to close the work. I was delighted with how PLEXUS captured the relentless energy of the Dance, and the gentle undertones of the Lullaby, demonstrating remarkable control and musical range.
Andrew's Shattering Blooms followed, an exquisitely-crafted work with an attractive clarity in structure. Two fast, driving and relentlessly virtuosic movements framed a still, intimate oasis at the work's centre. The fourth piece was Andrzej's Through, a slowly-unfolding, engaging and loosely post-minimalist work which called on the percussion skills of Phil, the clarinettist! The program closed with Dermot Tutty's Colours Bleed, brilliantly performed by PLEXUS and the VCASS choir, and aptly dramatic for a concluding piece.
I would like to thank PLEXUS for the commission and for their enormous dedication in preparing and performing my work - it was a real honour to work with such fantastic people.
The whole concert was recorded by ABC Classic FM, and released in two parts for their podcast New Waves. Part 1 contains the works of Ed Frazier Davis and Dermot Tutty. Part 2 contains my work, and those of Andrew Aronowicz and Andrzej Karalow. Links below!
The concert was reviewed by Matthew Lorenzon of Partial Durations
Evocations will receive its second performance on Saturday September 4 at The Channel, Arts Centre Melbourne. This performance will be given by the Daphnis Trio for the launch concert of Chroma Collective, founded by composers Ethan McAlistair and Jessica Smith. The work will then receive a third Melbourne performance in November - details to be confirmed!