Tag Archives: Adam Simmons

CONFUCIUS SAY, GIVE MUSICIANS LIBERTY

Cara Taber Gideon Brazil

Cara Taber and Gideon Brazil fill the air with colour during Adam Simmons’ Concerto For Piano and Toy Band

PICTORIAL REVIEW

Concert 1: Concerto for Piano and Toy Band
Michael Kieran Harvey with Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble
Composed by Adam Simmons

Thursday 2 March 2017, fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

By the time this post appears the second performance of this concerto will be over, but there will be two more chances to join the audience — on Saturday at 7.30pm and on Sunday at 3pm.

I loved this work. One of the performers, alto saxophonist Cara Taber, described this as “beautiful, thought-provoking, and strong original music by Adam Simmons” and that fits.

The concerto, which has three parts surrounded by a prologue, two interludes and an epilogue, is at times frenzied and at others meditative. Bursts of sudden energy come from the powerful piano of classical musician Michael Kieran Harvey as well as from the Toy Band.

As is always the case with Simmons’ art, we are encouraged to enjoy as well as to reflect on what we are seeing and hearing, what the performers are bringing to us beyond their facility with a range of instruments.

Confucius, a great lover of music, is part of this work, introduced in lines spoken by Simmons as he turns the handles on music boxes, propelling paper tapes into which the words are punched as holes. My googling suggests that Confucius gave ideas on how music should follow the ideal of the ancient pattern and then allow for improvisation while maintaining harmony.

This is the context for the brief spoken passages in Simmons’ concerto, in that Confucius, when talking to the Grand Master of Lu (who had been given the task of teaching music) about the Ancients’ Music, said, “Their music began with a strict unison. Soon the musicians were given more liberty; but the tone remained harmonious, brilliant, consistent, right on ’til the close.”

The spoken passages provide a framework in which the musicians work. The whole work — Simmons’ first long-form composition — is part of his exploration this year of The Usefulness of Art, inspired by French Impressionist sculptor Auguste Rodin‘s view that “I call useful anything that gives us happiness”. Simmons wants us to reflect on art as connection, sharing experience and encouraging understanding between people.

The influences he cites for this effort to highlight the contrast between soloist and ensemble include the words of Confucius, Werner Herzog films he watched when composing the piece in Wye River some years back and John Zorn’s books of interviews, essays and commentaries by musicians.

All this, while interesting as a background to the performance, is not required as a prelude to its enjoyment. There are startling moments in the concerto, there are periods in which Harvey thrills at the piano and there is a time when Taber’s saxophone solo is accompanied by musicians moving quietly and percussively through the audience and performance space.

It is best not to tell that story beforehand, but to experience it. I would thoroughly recommend that you find the time to catch the remaining two performances of Concerto for Piano and Toy Band.

ROGER MITCHELL

The Toy Band: Adam Simmons sopranino, baritone saxophones, shakuhachi; Cara Taber alto saxophone; Gideon Brazil tenor saxophone; Gemma Horbury trumpet; Gavin Cornish trumpet; Bryn Hills trombone; Howard Cairns double bass; Hugh Harvey drums

Below are some images, which are in black and white. The performance certainly is not.

BE QUICK TO CATCH SLOW MUSIC

FOSM-Program-2014-1_500x

It’s another beautiful day for a drive, so consider catching the last day of the incredibly comprehensive Festival of Slow Music in Ballarat.

Many wonderful performances have taken place already, but for those able to make it today there are plenty still to come, including a finale that will involve many of the musicians involved earlier.

Don’t be misled by the “slow music” title — it does not meant there will be no rapidity or fast-paced musical offerings. The philosophy behind this festival is explained below.

The best way to find out what’s on today is to visit the Festival of Slow Music website. (That’s not only because the website is fantastic, but because I could not extract text from the PDF media release, though I did try.)

Here is a link to the festival program in PDF form.

Meantime, if you are not familiar with this festival, here is some background taken from that website:

“I want to create an annual festival where people can take time to listen and engage with the music and the artists, where new collaborations can grow, and where people will experience the ability that music has to refresh, inspire and astonish.”

Adam Simmons — Artistic Director

The Festival of Slow Music is an opportunity to experience music of all genres in intimate spaces and to learn more about the musicians behind the sounds.

The Festival of Slow Music reflects the philosophy of the Slow Food movement but with the focus on the sensation of hearing, with all of the concerts being totally acoustic. The idea of Slow Music is to promote a more direct connection to the musical experience through meeting the musicians, learning about their musical aspirations, listening to natural, unamplified sounds and taking the time to hear a performance in full.
The Festival of Slow Music is about an approach to listening and experiencing music – it is not a description of the music, which will range from slow to fast, soft to loud, beautiful to ugly, old to new. It is not the music that will be slow, but the listening – the audience will be encouraged to slow down and enjoy the experience.

The Festival of Slow Music comes out of the Portraits Concert Series at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, also curated by Adam Simmons over several years, and aims to highlight the region’s rich artistic heritage and the strong contemporary music and arts scene.

This second festival year builds on its 2013 debut, presenting an exciting and ambitious program. It is not about a label or genre but rather the experience across the festival period that will develop and define the concept of “slow music”.

MUSICIANS CELEBRATE DAVID TOLLEY

Farewell David Tolley

Celebrating the contribution of David Tolley

LAST CALL:

PLAYING WITH DAVID TOLLEY, Monday 2 June 2014 at Carlton Courthouse, 345 Drummond St., Carlton
Tickets: $15 full | $10 concession | Box office 7 PM | Performance 7:30 PM.

This could easily slip under the radar given all the MIJF music on in Melbourne at the moment, but it is a significant event to honour the legacy of bassist David Tolley.

A concert celebrating some of the many influences that the late David Tolley — bassist-musician-artist-teacher-sculptor-individual — has had on particular artists and musicians, many of whom will be performing.

These will include Anita Hustas, Phil Bywater, Belinda Woods, Adam Simmons, Adrian Sherriff, David Brown, James Clayden, Tom Fryer, Louise Skacej, Tony Hicks, Ren Walters.

Thanks to Ren Walters for passing on the details.

Roger Mitchell

David Tolley

David Tolley

David Tolley

David Tolley

David Tolley

David Tolley