Lorenzo Alvaro, The Yarra Trio

2009 LYREBIRD COMMISSION
awarded to
Lorenzo Alvaro performed by
The Yarra Trio
(Stefan Cassomenos, Jess Ipkendanz and Chris Howlett)

Sunday, 4th October, 2009 2 pm
ST. PETER’S PARISH HALL
Gisborne St, East Melbourne
Melways 2F Kl

Meet the artists

Lorenzo Alvaro was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1979. He studied jazz performance (electric guitar) at the Box Hill Institute of TAPE (1998-2000) and took composition under Lachlan Wilson. He later completed a Bachelor of Music with honours (2006) under Brenton Broadstock and a Master of Music Degree (2008) under Stuart Greenbaum; both at the University of Melbourne. He is currently pursuing a PhD in composition.

Recent commissions included the 2008 Cybec 21st century Composers award which saw his piece entitled ‘Light without Heat’ performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in their 2009 MSO Metropolis Series under the baton of Matthias Pintscher (Germany). In the past Lorenzo has had works performed by The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, The Ku-rin-gai Philharmonic Orchestra, The Australian Contemporary Chorale, The Newman College Chapel Choir, The Luxembourg Sinfonietta, Alito d’Argento; as well as by many other individuals (often forming smaller ensembles) which include Stefan Cassomenos, Christina Chao, Simon Charles, Peter Dumsday, Shannon Ebeling, Yelian He, Edwina Hookey, Owen Thompson, Anne Veinberg et al.

The Yarra Trio was formed in 2007, and in the eighteen months since their formation have taken Melbourne by storm. Chris Hewlett and Stefan Cassomenos have been working together since 2003, and were joined by Jess Ipkendanz in 2009. The newly formed group burst onto the chamber music scene throughout the year, with numerous awards and successes. They performed on several occasions as part of the Faculty of Music Lunch Hour Concert Series at the University of Melbourne, and were awarded the 2007 University of Melbourne Alumni Chamber Music Prize. Also in that year, they were awarded an Australian Arts Council Buzz Grant, through The Foundation for Young Australians. In 2008 they were selected to receive a Knowledge Transfer Student Grant through the University of Melbourne’s Dreamlarge Program. They have also been recipients of the Olwyn Game Memorial Award for Chamber Music, and have been broadcast several times on ABC Classic FM. and 3MBS FM. In 2008, The Yarra Trio launched their inaugural subscription series, held at the edgy Flinders Lane venue fortytlve downstairs, and at Melba Hall at the University of Melbourne. They have also toured extensively throughout regional Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, giving several evening recitals in major centres, but also giving ‘Proms for Preps’ children’s concerts as part of their educational program. They hope to engage at a deeper level with regional communities, and encourage and educate the next generation of musicians and audiences. The Yarra Trio have worked intensively with The Royal Children’s Hospital, supporting fundraising for the ‘Hush’ Music for Sick Kids Auxiliary. In a single Gala Concert held at the Blue Diamond Club in Melbourne, they raised over $7500 in support of music therapy and pain management services. The Yarra Trio won the ‘People’s Prize’ at the Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competiton in Melbourne in 2009 and were in the top four of the “Trio di Trieste” International Competition in Italy, and won the North Trieste Rotary Club Special Award for the best performance of the contemporary set work.

hurling a shower of spears front their hands as they face him but in spite of this, his glorious heart feels no fear nor fright, and it is his courage that kills him.

Hektor is actually at the point of his triumph in battle, but this simile pointedly prefigures his eventual death. It recalls Book 6, where Andromache warns him ‘your own brave spirit will destroy you’, and it also foreshadows Book 16, where Patroklos’ death is imminent, and he lunges at his opponent Kebriones ‘with the energy of a lion, who has been hit in the chest as he ravages the sheepfolds, and his own courage brings his death’. This theme, of glorious yet fatal courage, has yet to loosen its grip on the Western imagination, and in this piece I have attempted to shed some light on its paradoxical nature.”

Presentation of Lyrebird 2009 Commission by the President, Ms Elisabeth White

Lorenzo Alvaro – Hidden Dimensions (2009)
I – Unchanging tempo – segue a II (q =120)
II – L’istesso Tempo
III – Presto Giocoso (q.=120)

Hidden Dimensions was composed from material which was initially intended to be arranged for a big band. This material, was not in any way confined to a big band, but it was heard that way in my mind before I began actually composing the piece on paper. When the time came to compose this piano trio, I had decided that this material was ready to be developed further; and so I began arranging it for a piano trio. I have found that doing this has brought new elements to the music that I would not have composed for a big band – and so I now look forward to composing the big band version, and including some of these new nuances.

Naturally, my affinity.with jazz has rubbed off on this piece. The ostinato and melody present in the second movement were the initial ideas that inspired the first and second movement. The third movement is actually an arrangement and re-composition of the fifth of Seven Miniatures I composed for solo piano in 2007, which were also inspired by jazz nuances.

Program

Annie Hsieh – Murmurs (2008)*
First performed by The Yarra Trio at Finalists’ concert,
The Yarra Trio and The University of Melbourne Composition Award 2008 at Melba Hall, Faculty of Music, The University of Melbourne, 6th October, 2008

* Winning Composition of The Yarra Trio Composition Award 2008

Stuart Greenbaum – 800 Million Heartbeats (2008) Many living creatures lives apparently last for around 800 million heartbeats. Birds like the hummingbird have a very rapid wing motion – so fast that it becomes a blur. It also has a correspondingly fast heart rate and lives a shorter (and arguably more intense) life. By contrast, the sloth has a very slow heart rate, is given to much sleep and has a relatively long life. If humans had only 800 million heartbeats in a life, we would die young (probably in our twenties). But the actual figure is only nominal. It becomes a heightened metaphor for a life, measured in heartbeats, and the journeys that fill its course. This piece was originally composed in 2000 for the Southbank Contemporary Music Ensemble, then as a quintet for Brisbane quintet, Topology, and this adaptation was made especially for The Yarra Trio to premiere in 2008.

Stuart Greenbaum – Book of Departures (2009) This piece was originally commissioned by Marshall McGuire as a sextet for Sydney’s Sonic Art Ensemble. He noted that it would be the group’s final commission and the idea of a sort of ‘farewell symphony’ took hold. While mapping out the structure of the piece, I started thinking in terms of chapters (there are three of them, along with three bridges and an interlude – all in one movement). I also wanted to write music that would make an appropriate gesture towards an ensemble of musicians who have given so much to Australian contemporary classical music. So finally, the idea of a ‘book of departures’ distilled in my thinking. ‘Departure’ is an interesting word. It can denote sadness and nostalgia – but it can equally refer to the outset of exciting new journeys and in my mind this piece attempts to.address both meanings. The current version for piano trio was adapted at the invitation of Melbourne’s Yarra Trio.

~ interval ~

Stefan Cassomenos
Tableau NO i (2008)
Tableau No 12 (2009) (from 24 Preludes, Fugues & Tableaux)

As a child, Stefan Cassomenos performed a number of his works overseas, through the Yamaha Music Foundation. At age fourteen, his works were performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (through the MSO Young Composer’s Programme) and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (through the ASME Futures Project). Stefan has written a work for The Yarra Trio every year since 2007. Projects this year include two ongoing collaborative musical theatre pieces – Echo with soprano Tania de Jong, and Kels with playwright Nick Musgrove – and a commission of a new Concertino for Trumpet for the Patma Music Family Concerts, which was premiered in September 2009. He also continues to write solo repertoire for the piano.

Of the works to be performed today, the composer notes: “In 2008,1 wrote a piece inspired by Book 1 of Homer’s poem The Iliad, which I entitled ‘Prelude, Fugue & Tableau No 1′. I thought it might be interesting to write a Prelude, Fugue & Tableau for each of the 24 books of The Iliad. The works to be performed today are two tableaux from as yet incomplete series, inspired by Books 1 and 12 of the Iliad respectively.

Book 1 describes the disastrous argument between Achilleus and Agamemnon, which is a great introduction to the themes of the entire work, as the resulting anger of Achilleus is what leads to almost all of the major events in the subsequent books. There is a poignant scene in Book 1 when Achilleus’ mother, Thetis, is consoling him, but being a goddess, she has divine knowledge of how soon he is going to die, and so is herself very upset. This scene inspired Tableau No 1.

Tableau No 12 was written with the hope of conveying something of the meaning and feeling of a particularly significant simile from Book 12:

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Hektor fought as he had before, like a whirlwind; as when a lion or a wild boar, surrounded by a pack of dogs and men, turns and turns about revelling in his own strength, and the men close themselves into a solid wall around him,