Peter de Jager, Ben Caddy, Amelia Coleman

2010 LYREBIRD COMMISSION

Peter de Jager, composer & piano
Ben Caddy, viola
Amelia Coleman, oboe & Cor Anglais

2.00pm Sunday, 3 October 2010

ST PETER’S PARISH HALL EASTERN HILL
Gisborne Street,
East Melbourne Melways 2F Kl

Meet the Artists

Peter de Jager is active around Melbourne as a soloist and chamber musician on piano and harpsichord (often in the same concert). He plays both standard and contemporary repertoire, and has performed many of his own compositions, often with the assistance of friends from the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), where he studied from 2005 to 2008. His harpsichord work is varied, ranging from orchestral and chamber continue playing, to solo repertoire, be it contemporary, baroque, or arrangements of popular music.

Peter’s love of working with singers has led to being Musical Director of two amateur musical theatre productions, with hopefully more to follow. He has just returned from the 2010 Lucerne Festival Academy, where he was accepted for the second time from applicants worldwide and played under the baton and artistic direction of Pierre Boulez in orchestral, ensemble, and piano duo repertoire. Peter is currently in his second year of a Bachelor of Music at the University of Melbourne, specialising in composition.

Ben Caddy played violin for twelve years before taking up the viola in 2009. He was awarded the 2009 Vose Memorial Prize at the University of Western Australia for the most outstanding performance of a concerto. In the same year he toured Australia playing viola in a string quartet supporting the band “Birds of Tokyo.” Ben is currently studying at ANAM. His teachers have included Paul Wright, Tzvi Friedl, Roger Benedict and Christopher Moore.

Amelia Coleman completed her Bachelor of Music Performance in 2006 at the Victorian College of the Arts (VGA). Whilst at the VGA she won the Athenaeum Prize for Chamber Music. In 2009 she concluded three years of study at ANAM. She has studied under Stephen Robinson, Jeffrey Crellin, Thomas Stacy, Thomas Indermuhle, Christian Schmitt and Alexei Ogrintchouk.

Amelia has appeared as a soloist and with orchestras and ensembles. She has worked with the Australian Classical Players, Orchestra Victoria and Australian Youth Orchestra. At the Zermatt Festival Academy she worked with the Scharoun Ensemble (of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) and appeared in concerts with them in 2008 and 2009. Work has included several national premiere performances of Cor Anglais works such as Silvestrini’s ‘Pasysage avec Pyrame et Thisbe’.

She was recently appointed to the position of Principle Cor Anglais at the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and has an ongoing interest in exploring Cor Anglais repertoire and expanding audiences’ appreciation of the instrument.

The Lyrebird Music Society Inc is a ‘not-for-profit’ music society registered in Victoria as an Incorporated Association. It was formed in 1921 by music enthusiast and philanthropist Louise Dyer (1884-1962), under the name of The British Music Society of Victoria, as an autonomous local chapter of a parent society in the United Kingdom, which had branches throughout the British Empire. The parent body foundered in 1933, since when the Society has been completely independent. The music presented at our concerts is universal in nature, embracing all forms of fine chamber music.
The objective of the Society is to promote the appreciation of fine chamber music by presenting an annual series of concerts to its members, their guests, and to the general public. These concerts are always of a high standard, featuring professional artists, mostly from Melbourne.
New works are encouraged through the awarding of the annual Lyrebird Commission for Composition to a Melbourne based composer and the presentation of the commissioned work at a public concert.
The Commission for Composition by this Society dates as a separate award only from 1996. For some years prior to that the Australian Natives’ Association sponsored the writing of an original musical composition organised and presented by the Society. This sponsorship was terminated in October 1994.
The award is for a composition of a chamber work of approximately ten to fifteen minutes in length, for solo, or any combination of performers (up to four). The prize includes an award of $1500, and the Society provides the artists fees for the first performance of the commissioned work, usually at its October concert. Artists are chosen in consultation with the successful applicant.

Program
John Dowland (1563-1626) (arr. Peter de Jager):
If My Complaints

Robert Schumann (1810-1856): Maerchenbilder
(Fairy-Tale Pictures) Op. 113 for Viola and Piano

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976):
Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for Oboe

I: Pan
II: Phaeton
III: Niobe
IV: Bacchus
V: Narcissus
VI: Arethusa

Lachrymae: Reflections on a Song by Dowland for Viola and Piano

Interval

Peter de Jager (b. 1989): Fanfare for Oboe and Piano
Peter de Jager (b. 1989): Fantasy for Viola and Cor Anglais
Peter de Jager (b. 1989): Elegy – Trio for Piano, Viola and Oboe (doubling Cor Anglais)

Peter de Jager
2010 Lyrebird Commission Composer

Peter has provided the following notes on his compositions being performed today including the 2010 Lyrebird Commission work, Elegy-Trio.

It was in 2008 that it was suggested to me by my then-colleague at the Australian National Academy of Music, Michael Trauer, that I write a piece for Viola and Cor Anglais, potentially to be played by him and Amelia Coleman. The combination of instruments immediately suggested to me certain colours and ideas, and I quite quickly produced the Fantasy which you will hear tonight, a long rhapsodic character-study for two actor-musicians. The next piece to be written was the Fanfare, which also happened to be my first attempt at a quasi twelve-tone composition. I can’t remember when the idea occurred to me to link the two pieces, but when it did, the further idea of forming a set, a “trilogy”, of works, starting with a Fanfare (of course), continuing with a dramatic dialogue, and ending with a trio in which all four instruments were combined, seemed natural. I was also inspired by the enthusiastic performers who seemed to be with me at each step.

When I applied and was accepted for the Lyrebird Commission, I recognised an opportunity to complete the trilogy, as I had planned the trio to be a chamber work of much the duration and for the perfect size of ensemble that the commission requested. After the extreme chromaticism of the Fanfare, and the more tonal but still harmonically piquant Fantasy, I felt a work in a strongly tonal vein would be appropriate to complete the set. The Elegy-Trio I wanted to be an intensely personal utterance, and, while there is no program and it is based on no specific event from my life, I feel the work to be, on some level, about loss, though not necessary death. It is very much a duet for the two melodic instruments (the piano playing a more supportive role throughout) and I imagined general “roles” for each one: the Oboe/Cor Anglais would have a more uncontrolled, emotionally reactive character, and the Viola a more reassuring and sympathetic mode of expression. This, I feel, is largely already inherent in the distinctive timbres of the two instruments.

The first movement, which is largely dominated by the plaintive Oboe, is a fresh, raw, reaction to whichever significant event formed the catalyst for the events of the piece. I wanted the movement to feel like from the Oboe’s opening statement of urgent anguish there was an inexorable pull towards the climax of the movement, at which point the action is arrested abruptly. In the melodic material I wanted there to be a sense of obsessively turning and re-examining fragments of thought, as humans are wont to do, futilely, when something has occurred over which they can assert no control.

The second movement (in which the darker colour of the Cor Anglais is featured more prominently) has two structural ideas:

In the opening and closing sections, I wanted there to be feeling of stasis, and of structural changes happening gradually by “tectonics”, whereas the middle section is a youthful memory, and is toe-tappingly foursquare, dancelike, and of forthright impetuousness. Thus, the first movement shows us the turmoil after a cataclysm, which is then enlarged upon in the second movement’s nostalgic remembrance. The codas of both pieces are linked thematically, and are intended to have a different character by virtue of a change in context. The first seems tired, resigned, and the second more overtly sorrowful, but perhaps hopeful.

I am always loath to discuss compositional techniques in program notes, but it may be illuminating to note that the main themes of both movements are the inversion of one another (that is, one is the other played “upside-down”).

The trilogy as a whole, then, forms a certain harmonic and formal progression, or at least contrast. It moves from atonality back to simple modal diatonic harmony, and the three pieces are complementary in their conception of form: the Fanfare is an example of a very tight structure, the Fantasy a very fluid, rhapsodic form, and the Elegy-Trio sitting somewhere in between these two extremes. While they don’t exactly follow seamlessly (one doesn’t pick up where the other left off), I feel they provide an interesting cross-section of styles and harmonic languages, and outline an interesting, though evidently not contiguous, life journey.