8th June 2014, Sunday 2pm

PLEXUSRichard Grantham

PLEXUS Photo : Belinda Strodder

Philip Arkinstall (clarinet)
Monica Curro (violin)
Stefan Cassomenos (piano)
Richard Grantham (composer)


Composer Item
Richard Grantham “The Lyrebird in my Piano” for clarinet, violin and piano
Lyrebird Commission 2013
Olivier Messiaen Thème et variations for violin and piano
Ludwig van Beethoven Selected Bagatelles Opus 33
Gerald Finzi Five Bagatelles for Clarinet and Piano
Charles Ives Largo for clarinet, violin and piano
Charles Hoag SweetMelancholy(lostyourdolly)SlowDragRag
for clarinet, violin and piano

Concert details are correct at the time of posting but may be subject to change.

Melbourne’s newest chamber ensemble, PLEXUS, brings together the talents of three of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians. PLEXUS was formed in 2013 with the express goal of paying homage to the acclaimed ensemble of the same instrumental combination, the Verdehr Trio, which was founded in 1972 by Walter Verdehr and Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, and which commissioned numerous important composers of the late 20th century.

PLEXUS now follows in their footsteps, having recently commissioned over twenty composers for their 2014 season. They are featured this year as part of the Metropolis New Music Festival in Melbourne, the Festival of Words and Music at fortyfivedownstairs, and Melbourne Recital Centre’s Spotlight Series. PLEXUS takes its name from a word evoking interweaving networks of entwined elements. The word embodies the ensemble’s devotion to supporting and engaging an ever-growing network of exceptional artists across a variety of disciplines.

This special concert features the world premiere of The Lyrebird in my Piano by Richard Grantham, which he has written especially as the award-winner of the 2014 Lyrebird Commission. Presented alongside are works by Messiaen, Beethoven, and Finzi, in which Monica, Philip and Stefan perform in duo and solo. Finally, the trio presents Charles Ives’ Largo, one of the first works ever written for this instrumental combination, followed by one of the most fun and popular pieces commissioned by the Verdehr Trio, Charles Hoag’s SweetMelancholy(lostyourdolly)SlowDragRag, to round off this delightfully diverse program.

Monica Curro (violin)

Violinist Monica Curro is currently in her 17th year as Assistant Principal 2nd Violin of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and was a core member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra for 5 years before that. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1987 and completed a Masters Degree at Michigan State University in 1991, studying with Walter Verdehr. She has played with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, as Principal 2nd Violin with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and Concertmaster of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and The Auckland Chamber Orchestra.

Monica has taught violin at The University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of the Arts and has coached chamber music and taught violin and viola at the Australian National Academy of Music and its Young Academy. Monica regularly tutors for Australian Youth Orchestra and National Music Camp programs.

In 2009 Monica was honoured to be invited as the only Australian to play in the World Orchestra for Peace conducted by Valery Gergiev for concerts in Poland and Sweden. She joined them in 2010 for concerts in London and Salzburg, in Abu Dhabi for 2011, and in New York and Chicago for 2012.

Monica recently gave the world premiere, as co-soloist with her sister Sarah, of Stefan Cassomenos’ Double Violin Concerto for acoustic, semi-acoustic and electric violins. In October 2013, she appeared as a soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Philip Arkinstall (clarinet)

Philip Arkinstall has been the Associate Principal Clarinet of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 2009 and was principal with the Malaysian Philharmonic for 11 years before that. He made his solo debut at the age of 15 with the Sydney Symphony, and was the winner of the Australian Woodwind Competition in Brisbane at the age of 18. In 1996, he was named 2MBS Radio Performer of the Year, and in 1997 was awarded the prestigious ABC Young Performer of the Year Award. Queen’s Trust and Big Brother awards enabled Philip to further his studies in Europe and he has appeared both as a soloist and as a guest principal with the Sydney Symphony, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and has been a regular soloist with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in repertoire ranging from Mozart, Henze, Copland, Strauss and Bruch amongst others. In November 2013, he appears as soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Philip has a reputation for versatility, and is very active as a chamber musician. He has been fortunate enough to tour Australia for Musica Viva with the Auer quartet, also working with groups like the Goldner Quartet and the Eggner trio, as well as the Australia Ensemble, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and many contemporary ensembles including The Arcko and Australysis groups. He appears regularly as part of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Series.

Stefan Cassomenos (piano)

Melbourne pianist, composer and conductor Stefan Cassomenos is one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians. Stefan has performed internationally since the age of 10, and performed the premiere of his own first piano concerto with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16. More recently, he has performed concertos with the Melbourne and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, and Orchestra Victoria. Stefan now gives regular solo recitals and concerto performances throughout Australia, Europe, and Asia. Upcoming performances include recitals in Hunan, Weimar, Ludwishafen, the Zurich Tonhalle, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, and a concert tour of Northern England.

In 2013, he was a grand finalist and recipient of the Second Grand Prize in the prestigious International Telekom Beethoven Competition Bonn, in Germany. He was also the recipient of the Chamber Music Prize. In 2012, he was a grand finalist in the Rhodes International Piano Competition. He has also been a grand finalist and prize-winner in the 2013 Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition, the 2013 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer Awards, the 2009 Melbourne Asia-Pacific Chamber Music Competition, and the 2009 Trieste International Chamber Music Competition.

Stefan’s compositions are regularly commissioned and performed throughout Australia, and he is also active as an artistic director of various festivals, projects and collaborations.

Stefan is supported by Kawai Australia, the Youth Music Foundation of Australia, and the Helen MacPherson Smith Trust.

Richard Grantham (composer)

Richard Grantham is a jack of all musical trades whose compositional and performing experience stretches from orchestras to bands to solo improvisation, encompassing an exceptionally broad range of classical, folk, popular, cabaret and experimental styles. He composed his first piece (for piano) at age seven and his first orchestral work at 14, winning the ABC’s Young Composer Award that year. Honed by studies in composition at the University of Queensland under Philip Bračanin (graduating with first class honours and a University Medal) and eight years in the Queensland Youth Symphony, he has gone on to compose and arrange music for festivals, films, theatre, spoken word and burlesque, as well as for the concert hall.

Improvisation is an important aspect of Richard’s compositional practice, both as a mode of composition in itself and also directly informing the form and content of recent fully-notated works such as The Lyrebird in my Piano. Having spent the best part of the last decade performing and touring with a multitude of bands, he has become an adept improviser upon a large number of stringed, keyed and woodwind instruments (including all four featured in this work). His solo improvising act The Viola Cloning Project uses a loop recorder and other effects pedals to turn his customised five-string carbon-fibre viola into a one-man string and percussion orchestra, and has performed with performance poet Ghostboy (David Stavanger), Zen Zen Zo physical theatre company, and at conferences and festivals including three appearances in closing ceremonies of the Woodford Folk Festival.

His notated compositions have been performed by The Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Youth Symphony, flautist Janet McKay, six new music ensemble, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra violinist Sarah Curro who performed Tourmaline for violin and electronics in 2011 as part of her VOLUME series of concerts. Richard is currently working towards a PhD, investigating and devising new electronic and physical timbral resources for violin and viola. His cat Beckett is afraid of brass instruments.