Liza Lim Composer
Dianna Gaetjens Principal French Horn
‘Dianna’ or Diana is the Roman name of the Goddess of the Hunt, identified with the Greek goddess Artemis. I had a wide-ranging conversation over Zoom with Dianna Gaetjens, Principal Horn in the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, in which she brought up so many things that inspired me and that are woven into this piece, despite its relative brevity.
We spoke about the story of Diana from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, in which Actaeon spied on the naked bathing goddess who, in her fury, turned him into a deer to be torn apart by his own hunting dogs. This led into a conversation about the horn as an instrument indigenous to forest hunting cultures in Southern Germany and about some of her favourite repertoires: the Green Book of horn quartets which includes hunting tunes, the horn opening of Humperdinck’s opera Hansel and Gretel, and famous solos by Ravel and Messiaen.
We also spoke about Dianna’s extraordinary career playing with the Berlin Philharmonic, her later incarnation as a diplomat in Tokyo, a stint in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra and current Masters studies in cybernetics and AI at the Australian National University, for which she invented a ‘chord machine’ to test tuning – a horn player’s project if ever there was one.
I mentioned the idea of potentially playing this solo outdoors and Dianna sent me some photos of a view of Mount Ainslie, of ‘gumtrees, cockatoos and magpies,’ and a wetlands reserve near where she lives.
So … this little piece is a compressed portrait of Dianna that incorporates various resonances from the stories she told me – music evoking the mythical world of the horn given a bushland echo of the free-wheeling warble of Australian magpies.
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Liza Lim is an Australian composer whose music focuses on collaborative and transcultural practices. Ideas of beauty, ecological connection and ritual transformation are ongoing concerns in her compositional work. Her four operas – The Oresteia (1993), Moon Spirit Feasting (2000), The Navigator (2007) and Tree of Codes (2016) – and the major ensemble work Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus (2018) explore themes of desire, memory, and the uncanny. Her genre-crossing percussion ritual/opera Atlas of the Sky (2018) is a work involving community participants that celebrates the emotional power and energy dynamics of crowds.
Liza has received commissions from some of the world’s pre-eminent orchestras and ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Ensemble Musikfabrik, ELISION, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern, Klangforum Wien, International Contemporary Ensemble and Arditti String Quartet.
Liza is Professor of Composition and Sculthorpe Chair of Australian Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Her work is published by Ricordi Berlin and appears on labels such as Kairos, Hat Hut, WERGO, ABC Classics, Neos and Winter & Winter.
Dianna Gaetjens, Principal French Horn
Dianna Gaetjens received her masters from the Hochschule für Musik Hans Eisler where she studied with Professor Marie-Luise Neunecker. Aged 19, she was accepted into the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic; she spent two years with the Berlin Philharmonic performing, touring, and recording under conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Daniel Barenboim.
Dianna has toured Australia and internationally as a soloist, including Europe, South America, Israel and Palestine, and appeared with orchestras such as the Bogata Philharmonic, the Kammerphilharmonie Amade and the New Philharmonic Westfalen. Dianna has received numerous international accolades, including third prize at the International Performers Competition in the Czech Republic.
Dianna is Principal French Horn with the CSO.
PART OF THE CSO’s AUSTRALIAN MINISERIES