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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | November 29, 2021

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Heavenly Life: Southern Cross Soloists' Celestial Concert

Heavenly Life: Southern Cross Soloists’ Celestial Concert
Claire Matthews

Southern Cross Soloists presented an afternoon of heavenly chamber music bursting with light and colour in Heavenly Life at QPAC on Sunday.

Heavenly Life celebrated the transcendent power of chamber music, in a program that explored both the heights and the everyday struggles of life.

Led by artistic director Tanis Frazer on oboe, the ensemble includes Alan Smith on violin, Jonathan Henderson on flute and Nick Mooney on French Horn. Due to border closures, clarinettist Ashley Smith and violist James Wannan couldn’t make it to Brisbane, so Dario Scalabrini and Nicole Greentree stepped in. They were also joined by guest cellist Katherine Philp.

SXS was joined by guest soprano Alexandra Flood and pianist Konstantin Shamray. Alexandra graced the stage in a sparkling ball gown. Her resonant voice and engaging facial expressions captivated the audience.

The concert opened with Handel’s colourful aria, Da tempeste il legno infranto from his opera Julius Caesar. Alexandra sang with sorrow and then joy, portraying the character of Cleopatra.

Next, Konstantin took centre stage for Mozart’s Piano concerto no. 24. This work was arranged for SXS by Brisbane composer John Rotar. Across the three movements, Konstantin and the ensemble displayed virtuosity.

The concert’s titular piece, Mahler’s Das Himmlische Leben (The Heavenly Life) evoked an idyllic paradise, filled with plentiful food, wine, and of course, fine music. Alexandra sang with a sense of wonder and childhood excitement.

Rachmaninov’s Vocalise Op. 34 was a moment of calm reflection, the sparse, expansive music depicting a pastoral landscape. Through this wordless piece, SXS communicated an expressive narrative.

 To close, SXS performed Bellini’s Ah, non credea mirati (the sleepwalking scene) with Alexandra. She evoked the story of innocence, mistakes, and heartbreak. Her voice soared as she reached the joyous ending.

After many bows and much applause, Alexandra and Konstantin came back on stage for an encore. She stood next to the piano for an intimate duet.

Heavenly Life was the perfect way to finish SXS’ 2021 concert season. Here’s to more sublime chamber music next year.

SXS 2022 QPAC Concert Series:

Feb 20, 2022 3pm

June 19, 2022 3pm

Oct 2, 2022 3pm

More info:  Here.

Photos by Darren Thomas.