Brisbane Music Festival's Refreshing 'Celestial Spirits' Concert
Brisbane Music Festival’s Celestial Spirits concert on Saturday presented an afternoon of exquisite chamber music and refreshing contemporary sounds.
St Mary’s Anglican Church at Kangaroo Point, with its arched ceilings, stained-glass windows and sandstone walls, was a fitting venue. The program featured many BMF artists in a celebration of Baroque concertos, threaded together by celestial chants from 12th century composer Hildegard von Bingen.
The concert opened with a trumpet concerto by German baroque composer Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel. This piece featured Sarah Butler on trumpet, Alex Raineri on harpsichord and a string quartet of BMF Young Artists. The trumpet solo weaved in and out in a conversation with the strings.
Next, violinist Donica Tran performed a violin sonata by Italian baroque composer Giuseppe Tartini. Donica was accompanied by cellist Shuhei Lawson and Raineri. The trio performed with real sensitivity.
Andre Oberleuter then performed Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerto in G Minor, accompanied by string quartet. The rich timbre of the bassoon resonated through the church. Continuing with Vivaldi, Jemima Drews performed his Flute Concerto in F Minor. Her sprightly solo conversed with the strings in a call and response like chattering birds.
We enjoyed a brief interval on the lawn with nibblies and drinks and magnificent views of the Brisbane river and city.
Acclaimed violinist Natsuko Yoshimoto then took the stage for Schubert’s Rondo in A Major, accompanied by Raineri and the BMF string quartet. Natsuko performed the challenging work with ease, her fingers dancing on her violin.
Gerald Finzi’s Eclogue for Piano and Strings presented a moment of lush serenity with Alex Raineri and chamber orchestra. The strings and piano swelled with varying currents like the ocean.
The afternoon concluded with a musical excerpt from a new opera in development titled Spirit Orphan. Created and performed by soprano Jenna Robertson, with music composed by Corrina Bonshek, Spirit Orphan retells the story of Jenna’s experiences during the 2019 bushfires. Jenna was evacuated from her home in the Gold Coast hinterland twice during the fires. She gathered stories from her local community and is using this to inspire her creative work, reflecting on belonging and place.
Jenna presented the evacuation scene to us, accompanied by chamber orchestra and chorus. This was a deeply moving scene, capturing the fear and anxiety of spending a night alone in the evacuation centre. The rich, polyphonic sound of the voices and instruments blending together was powerful and evocative, building to a dramatic finish. Spirit Orphan fittingly received standing ovations.
In all, Celestial Spirits was a thoroughly enjoyable concert, exploring both old and new chamber music. It was a great way to relax and unwind on the long weekend.
BMF Coming Up
What: Archduke, featuring violinist Adam Chalabi & cellist Patrick Murphy
When: 7:30pm Sat 8 May & 2pm Sun 9 May
Where: 4MBS Studio 384 Old Cleveland Rd, Coorparoo