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Event Details

Strelitzia Ensemble | 2017 Subscription Series

We are very happy to be presenting our four program subscription series once again in the intimate atmosphere of the Glebe Justice Centre. We will be presenting two Sunday twilight concerts at 5pm at either end of the year, and two Saturday evening performances at 7:30pm.

Each program in our 2017 series is distinctly different - we will be presenting Piano Trios, String Quartets and works with Strings and Clarinet, amongst others - each with our usual mix of the old and the new, with fresh contemporary works from Australia and abroad alongside some of the mainstays of the chamber music repertoire by Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Ravel and Schumann. In 2017, we will also be showcasing female voices with at least half of the works we present composed by women.

We look forward to spending the year with you!


Program 1 | Pale Yellow/Fiery Red

Sunday February 26, 5pm


Elena Kats-Chernin | Variation on Schubert's 'Trauerwalzer'

Jennifer Higdon | Piano Trio

Franz Schubert | Piano Trio No. 2 in E Flat Major


In our first program for 2017, we begin by honouring upcoming International Women's Day on March 8th with the first half of our program featuring two of the foremost female composers of their generation.

Jennifer Higdon is one of the United States' most acclaimed contemporary composers. Her Piano Trio is in two contrasting movements, 'Pale Yellow' and 'Fiery Red', and in them she seeks to embody the moods of the two opposing colours. Elena Kats-Chernin, one of Australia's most eminent composers, has featured frequently on Strelitzia's programs over the years. In her 2009 work 'Variations on Trauerwalzer', she looks to an early work of Schubert's for inspiration, providing an interesting contrast with the final work on our program.

Schubert himself uses the full palette of colour and emotion in his iconic Piano Trio in E Flat, one of the final works he heard performed before his death in 1828. The Trio's slow movement contains one of Schubert's most recognisable and beloved themes, which is thought to have been based on a Swedish folk tune, 'Se Solen Sjunker' (The Sun is Down).


Program 2 | Truth and Transcendence

Saturday June 3, 7:30pm


David Bruce | Gumboots for String Quartet and Clarinet

Felix Mendelssohn | String Quartet in A minor Op. 13 No. 2

In this program, we explore two very different transcendent works of chamber music for Strings and Clarinet. Mendelssohn composed his passionate String Quartet in A minor when he was just 18, in 1827 - just months after the death of Beethoven. At the time, Mendelssohn was fascinated by Beethoven’s late string quartets, and their influence can be seen in his own quartet writing - in particular in his use of the kind of cyclical form that Beethoven’s quartets first explored. Mendelssohn used a fragment of one of his recent songs, ‘Ist es wahr?’ (Is it true?) as a unifying motif that returns throughout the work. David Bruce’s work Gumboots, for String Quartet and Clarinet, was inspired by, as he says, the “paradox in music, and indeed all art - the fact that life-enriching art has been produced, even inspired by conditions of tragedy, brutality and oppression”. More specifically, Gumboots references Apartheid South Africa, and the tradition of ‘Gumboot Dancing’, in which brutally oppressed black mine workers, chained together, wore Gumboots while they worked in the flooded gold mines, because it was cheaper for the owners to supply the boots than to drain the floodwater from the mine. They developed a form of communication by slapping the boots and chains, and this later developed into a form of dance. These dances were joyous and vital, and Bruce includes five of these in the second part of his work, which he sees as a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit, and the rejuvenating power of dance.


Program 3 | Book of Departures

Saturday September 16, 7:30pm

Louise Farrenc | Piano Trio

Stuart Greenbaum | Book of Departures

Maurice Ravel | Piano Trio


In this program, we explore three striking works for Piano Trio from across the musical spectrum. Louise Farrenc is one of the few female voices we have from the 19th Century, though her work is little known. Farrenc showed great talent as a Pianist and composer at a young age, and at 15, her parents allowed her to study at the Paris Conservatoire under Anton Reicha - though is is unclear whether or not she was able to, given the class was only open to men. After an impressive career as a concert Pianist, Farrenc was appointed to the prestigious position of Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatoire, though she was paid significantly less than her male counterparts for the first decade of her thirty year tenure. Though still little known, Louise Farrenc’s Piano Trio is one of the works that has recently been rediscovered. Stuart Greenbaum’s Book of Departures was the final commission of the disbanding Sonic Arts Ensemble, and was conceived in three chapters, which circle through a range from emotions, from triumphant, to nostalgic, to optimistic. Greenbaum considers minimalism, Jazz and Pop amongst his musical influences, and his works never fail to move and impress us. Maurice Ravel had been mulling over his ideas for a Piano Trio for years, but it was the outbreak of World War I, and the knowledge that he would have to depart to the front, that spurred him on to finally complete the project. As he wrote to Stravinksy in October 1914, “the idea that I should be leaving at once made me get through five months' work in five weeks! My Trio is finished.” By October, he was enlisted in the army. Ravel’s influences in writing the trio were various, including Basque dance (a heritage he felt great affinity with) and Malaysian poetry, to name two - and the result is a work sparkling with vitality and vigour, which, some hundred years after its composition, never fails to sound fresh and new.


Program 4 | The Mirror Has Three Faces

November 5, 5pm

Ludwig van Beethoven | String Trio, Op.9, No.3 in C minor

Lera Auerbach | The Mirror Has Three Faces

Robert Schumann | Piano Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 47


Lera Auerbach says of her Piano Trio: “I like the idea of exploring the dramatic, ritualistic side of music. In the Mirror with Three Faces, one can look at three different faces or roles of the same person or at three distinct personalities - each with its own face. Each character (i.e instrument) may be isolated, in conflict or in harmony with others and itself. This trio explores individuality and ensemble, harmony and conflict, one in three or three in one - that is the ambiguous nature of this work, structured in the form of a triptych.” This is an idea that also resonates with the other two works that begin and end our final program of the year. In his early string trios, Beethoven was exploring the concept of writing for three distinct voices, and as such these works stand as an interesting precursor to the String Quartets that were to come. The idea of individuality and ensemble in three voices, as mentioned by Auerbach, is also something Beethoven grappled with in writing this work, and the result is a highly energetic and tumultuous work with both moments of striking conflict, but also of the kind of perfect harmony that three voices can bring. In his work as a music critic, Robert Schumann frequently discussed music through three imaginary characters; Florestan (the embodiment of Schumann's passionate, voluble side), Eusebius (his dreamy, introspective side), and Meister Raro, who may represent either the composer himself, his wife Clara, or the combination of the two (Clara + Robert). It is perhaps not surprising then that Schumann is known for his ability to write music that can turn from one character - one extreme emotion - to another, to yet another, in the space of just a few bars. We see this in his stunning Piano Quartet, where we are taken on an emotional journey from optimistic fervour clouded by brooding storminess, through sublime tenderness to infectious vivacity and elation.  

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Glebe Justice Centre

47/37 Saint Johns Road Glebe Sydney 2037, Australia

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Organiser Information

Eleanor Betts
Strelitzia Ensemble
61416015418

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