On October 22, the Glasshouse will host its first fine music performance, the Brandenburg Soloists. Melissa Farrow and Matt Bruce, two of the performers, invite us to experience this unique classical concert.
> You are both high profile musical performers. Tell us about your background in music and how you achieved success at this elite level.
Melissa: I started playing music when I was 8. I started with the recorder and then I progressed with the silver flute. I practiced that for hours every day, right through my schooling and into university, The Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. I completed a Diploma there over three years and then continued with a Post Graduate in Amsterdam. So all in all, it’s been plenty of years training!
I now specialise in the Baroque and Renaissance flute. I am now also a parent and have had to learn to concentrate into one hour of very focused practice per day. Whereas, when I was a student, I had the time to do 3 or 4 hours, but now I have to cram it very successfully into one hour. Being on tour allows me to put more time and focus into training.
Matt: I started when I was about 4 years old with the violin. I started with a few lessons and have been enjoying it ever since! I studied music in Sydney and then received a Churchhill Fellowship to go overseas and study.
I have been playing with the Brandenburg now for 18 years. I also have learned to play the electric violin.
> Brandenburg Soloists specialise in compositions from the 17th and 18th century. What is it that defines this era in music?
Melissa: The Classical period emerged out of a period we call the Baroque period in music,
where the music had become complex in terms of harmony and melody. Out of that came a desire for more simplicity and that was expected in all the arts of the period: the architecture, the painting and also the music.
Composers like Mozart wrote in a more transparent and simple way than in the Baroque period. The music is very expressive, but it’s not too complex and it reaches people in a clear and easy way to interpret.
People today can still respond and connect to the music of the Classical era.
> Do you have a particular composer from these eras that you connect with?
Melissa: My favourite would have to be C.P.E. Bach. He is my favourite because of the amazing pieces he wrote for the flute. He has really colourful, expressive music. At the time, he was the accompanist for the King of Prussia, a well known flute player.
Matt: That’s a hard one! Pandolfi, an early 17th Century Italian composer specialising in violin music, would have to be one of my favourites. His work is very improvised; it’s more jazz than traditional classical music.
> This is going to be the first fine music performance at our newly opened Glasshouse. Do you know much about the facility?
Melissa: I’ve heard that it has wonderful acoustics and it is a very impressive building. I am really looking forward to going and playing there. There’s only going to be nine of us playing at the one time, so the theatre’s very suitable for our size ensemble.
> What can our readers look forward to hearing at the performance?
Matt: We will be playing on period instruments, set up in the same way they would have been when the music was composed. For instance, my violin will have raw gut strings on it, as opposed to steel strings, creating quite a different sound.
I think this is what makes the performance a bit more interesting – there’s even a slightly different pitch to what people are used to these days.
Melissa: There’s a piece by Hoffmeister (Quintet in F) which features a basset horn – a fascinating looking and sounding instrument. It is accompanied by oboe, viola and flute.
It’s going to be a beautiful quintet and showcase really amazing sounds of the wind instruments of that day. I will also be playing a solo flute piece, which is an unusual addition for a program, but it’s a beautiful classical piece by Stamtiz (Capriccio: Sonata in A) that really shows off the instrument. The piece is very expressive and shows off the wooden qualities of the instrument.
We’ll also play some Rossini – a fantastic double bass and cello piece.
> Thank you Melissa and Matt.
Brandenburg Soloists has 9 performers:
Matt Bruce – violin, Shelley Sörensen – viola, Jamie Hey – cello, Kirsty McCahon – bass, Melissa Farrow – flute, Kirsten Barry – oboe, Craig Hill – basset horn, Peter Moore – bassoon, Darryl Poulsen – horn.
> To purchase tickets to this performance, contact the Glasshouse Box office on 02 6581 8888 or online at www.glasshouse.org.au