From the 2013 Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competition

Euan Murdoch (CMNZ CEO) sent us this wonderful blog post on what’s been happening in Melbourne at the Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competition the last few days..


asiapacific logoI have spent this week in Melbourne listening to top young talent from China, Japan, Singapore and Australia. Piano trios and string quartets from around the region are strutting their stuff for a jury chaired by Wilma Smith. Colleagues on the jury include pianist Ian Munro, violinist Natsuko Yoshimoto, cellist Li-Wei Qin and violist Jensen Horn-Sin Lam. We’ve been hosted magnificently by our friends at Chamber Music Australia and the whole event has been live on ABC Radio.

This morning I attended a fascinating on air discussion about the rise of chamber music in Asia. As part of the programme we heard short performances by the T’ang Quartet, who have been in residence during this week and Li-Wei Qin. Li-Wei performed the opening movement of George Crumb’s solo sonata and it was a treat to hear this wonderful work expertly performed. The panel discussion was centred around the Asia Century White Paper and explored what is already happening, and what is likely to happen in the near future in this region. Clearly we are poised to enter a new era and it is exciting to think that chamber music has already opened doors and is promoting exchange. Much was made of the need to build partnerships slowly and respectfully rather than charging in with predetermined outcomes before any engagement has begun.

T'ang Quartet

T’ang Quartet

Professor Bernard Lanskey, Director of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore and Professor Paul Grabowsky, Executive Director of the Monash University Academy of the Performing Arts here in Melbourne drew out some interesting analogies between Western classical forms and Eastern traditional forms that reflect the different creative processes. The former often juxtaposes contrasting ideas as a way of creating tension and release, and the latter being more layered, intricate and complex. Examples were drawn from Mozart and Indonesian Gamelan.

Back to the Competition for a moment, of course I cannot comment on the individual performances at this stage other than to say that we have enjoyed some outstanding and very moving performances. In the second round we are being introduced to a number of new works from Asian composers in the post-1993 selection. It is fascinating to hear all the cultural influences and subtle inflections. Later today we will select who goes through to the finals on Sunday at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Piano trios and string quartets are judged separately but there will be one overall winner declared on Sunday night and various other prizes including the best performance of the post-1993 work. That promises to be one of the most hotly contested awards as these young ensembles play their hearts out for us.

asiapacific ensembles

Tomorrow there is a special ‘open microphone’ afternoon where amateur chamber musicians get their chance to perform in the magnificent purpose-built Elisabeth Murdoch Hall (no relation!). I’ll be there and will celebrate the passion that lives at the heart of chamber music.

It’s music played by friends, for friends!

– Euan, 12.07.2013

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