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  1. CSO Mixtape: Jessica Cottis

    Jessica Cottis (Image: Kaupo Kikkas)

    The ‘gifted’ (The Times) Australian-born conductor Jessica Cottis has captured international attention for her intellect, innate musicality and easy authority. Hailed as ‘cool, contained, super-articulate and engaging’ (The Scotsman), she is a charismatic figure on the podium who brings dynamism and clarity of vision to all her performances.

    Cottis made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016, returning in 2017 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Frequently in demand as guest conductor, highlights of recent seasons include performances with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, l’Orchestra Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, Gävle Symfoniorkester, Malmö Symfoniorkester, Bit20 Ensemble Bergen, Malaysian Philharmonic, Orchestra of Opera North, Scottish Opera, and recording with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Recently, Cottis recorded with saxophonist Jess Gillam, for the Decca Classics label.

    Jessica Cottis joins the Canberra Symphony Orchestra as Artistic Advisor in 2021. Read full bio

    Listening notes

    John COLTRANE My Favourite Things

    Unadulterated genius from John Coltrane on soprano sax and McCoy Tyner on piano.

    Kaaja SAARIAHO Sept papillons, no. 7

    Seven miniatures on the ephemeral nature of butterflies. No. 7 is expressive, energetic and metallic, yet fragile. Played by solo cellist Anssi Karttunen who premiered the works in 2000.

    Richard MEALE Lumen

    A late work of Australian composer Richard Meale, inspired by Scriabin’s Vers La Flamme (Toward the Flame). Meditative, contemplative, with waves of pure sound, like shafts of morning sunlight refracting off temple bells.

    Richard WAGNER Parsifal Act 3: Karfreitagszauber

    I have to suspend my disbelief for Wagner’s narratives – they’re often dramatically ridiculous. But the music is amazing. Parsifal is his last opera, completed in 1882. The third act sees the knight Parsifal, exhausted from years of travel, resting in a sunlit, flower-covered meadow. Refreshed by the beauty of nature, he learns of ‘Good Friday’s magic spell’, a day of transfiguration where the world is renewed and all innocence is regained. This is music of extraordinary radiance, transcendence, sacred beauty and majesty, constantly searching and evolving.

    Clara SCHUMANN Romance for Violin and Piano, op. 22, no. 1

    The first of three lyrical and quietly ecstatic Romances by Clara Schumann, written after a long break from composing. In this recording, Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili plays her ‘Ex Joachim’ Stradivarius, the instrument used to premiere these pieces by the legendary virtuoso Joseph Joachim in 1853.

    Leoš JANÁĆEK On an Overgrown Path vol. 1 II. A blown-away leaf 

    The nature-loving folklorist Leoš Janáček took great inspiration from the nearby forests of Hukvady in Moravia. Lístek odvanutý (a blown-away leaf) is the second in his collection of piano pieces On an Overgrown Path. They’re like a musical diary of intimate memories, nostalgic and poetic. In a letter, Janacek characterises this piece as a love song, describing the falling of a leaf above a river, ‘sinking to the bottom, contentedly’.

    Maurice RAVEL Piano Trio in A minor 3. Passacaille

    Ravel is surely one the towering greats of classical music. The obsessively linear, slow movement of his piano trio, composed in 1914, looks back to early seventeenth-century Spain and uses the repeating bass line structure of the passacaglia. Eleven statements of the lilting eight-bar theme circle and swell to a great climax, and eventually subside in the final variation for piano alone. There’s a hint of something dark, with shadows emerging and disintegrating, perhaps sensing the breakdown of peace that would soon come.

    John Luther ADAMS Become Ocean

    Rich and beautifully textured, John Luther Adams’ Pulitzer-prize winning Become Ocean is linked to a water music tradition that stretches right back to Wagner, via Debussy and Sibelius. It’s music of elemental nature. Three massive crescendos span the huge, 45-minute work, with tidal surges inexorably accumulating, subsiding, and swelling back up again. Swirling harp arpeggios remind us of Debussy’s La Mer, while harmonically we’re not far from the tonal world of Sibelius’ seventh symphony. With a total of 631 bars of music, by bar 316 the music turns and runs in reverse: it’s all a gigantic palindrome, taking us on a majestic journey, and ending precisely where it began.

    Yehudit RAVITZ Shir Lelo Shem ‘A Song Without a Name’ 

    Sung by Yehudit Ravitz in the original Hebrew, a piece about longing, creativity and inspiration: ‘for my song is a leaf in the wind’.

    Jean SIBELIUS Symphony No. 7

    An Everest of a symphony, concentrated into a continuous, single movement of just 22 minutes, it’s one of the very greatest since Beethoven. ‘I believe in civilisation,’ wrote Sibelius, and amidst the uncertainty and unrest of the early 20th century, he created this, his last symphony, a work of primal energy and shattering profundity. It ends with the purity of C major… is it a victory, or the end of the world? Either way, it was Sibelius’s ultimate farewell.

    Gustav MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D minor VI. Langsam. Ruhevoll. Empfunden

    Marked with the words ‘Slow. Calm. Deeply felt,’ the Adagio of Mahler’s third symphony seems to exist outside of any conscious acknowledgement of temporality. Starting with one of the most wondrous of prayers, it’s a tour de force of tectonically slow and sustained playing from start to finish. So intense it almost physically hurts, until the brass emerge with their glorious and noble chorale.

    Jessica Cottis: bio

    The ‘gifted’ (The Times) Australian-born conductor Jessica Cottis has captured international attention for her intellect, innate musicality and easy authority. Hailed as ‘cool, contained, super-articulate and engaging’ (The Scotsman), she is a charismatic figure on the podium who brings dynamism and clarity of vision to all her performances.

    Cottis made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016, returning in 2017 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Frequently in demand as guest conductor, highlights of recent seasons include performances with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, l’Orchestra Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, Gävle Symfoniorkester, Malmö Symfoniorkester, Bit20 Ensemble Bergen, Malaysian Philharmonic, Orchestra of Opera North, Scottish Opera, and recording with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Recently, Cottis recorded with saxophonist Jess Gillam, for the Decca Classics label.

    Cottis has also recently conducted a string of exceptionally well-received ‘Film with Live Orchestra’ productions, with performances of ET, Jurassic Park, Casino Royale, The Addams Family, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and Disney’s Fantasia.

    A dual British-Australian citizen, Cottis was awarded a first class honours degree in organ, piano and musicology from the Australian National University and continued her studies as an organist with Marie-Claire Alain in Paris, winning awards from the Royal Philharmonic Society and Royal College of Organists. A wrist injury subsequently halted her playing career and after reading Law, she began conducting studies in 2006, studying with Colin Metters and Sir Colin Davis on the postgraduate conducting course at the Royal Academy of Music. Cottis was awarded the Royal Academy’s top conducting prizes and graduated with Distinction in July 2009.

    Her international career was launched through close working relationships with mentors including Vladimir Ashkenazy and Donald Runnicles. From 2009 to 2011 she was Assistant Conductor at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and from 2012 to 2014 Assistant Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra where she conducted over thirty concerts per year with the orchestra.

    A gifted communicator, Cottis is already acting as an inspiration to the younger generation. She has filmed projects for Play School (ABC Australia), CBeebies (BBC) and the Royal Opera House, has conducted projects with organisations such as the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Aldeburgh Young Musicians, and Sistema Europe, and led courses for female conductors with London’s Royal Philharmonic Society. In recent years, she has become a frequent contributor to BBC radio programmes, including Women’s Hour, the Today programme, World Service; and for BBC television: ‘Proms Extra’ and ‘Maestro at the Opera’. She works widely as an advocate for classical music.

    She has been a jury member for BASCA, European Composer and Songwriter Alliance, Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, PRS for Music Foundation, Scottish Awards for New Music, Australian Music Centre, and the BBC Young Musician Competition. She is Chair of the Music Board of the Tait Memorial Trust for Young Australians, a body that oversees the funding of young performing artists from Australia and New Zealand.

    In 2014 Jessica Cottis took up the position of Principal Conductor of the Glasgow New Music Expedition, and in 2015 was appointed Associate Member of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM), an honorary award for former students who have made a significant contribution to the music profession.

    Jessica Cottis makes her home in North London. She is an avid lepidopterist, and in her spare time is learning to fly helicopters.

    https://www.jessicacottis.com/

    THIS CSO MIXTAPE SUPPORTED BY
    ICON WATER
     
    Icon Water logo

     

  2. CSO Mixtape: Alina Zamfir

    Alina Zamfir, CSO Viola (Image: Martin Ollman)

    Alina Zamfir commenced the viola at the age of 15 and soon after chose to dedicate her life to music. She studied a Bachelor of Music (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under the tutelage of Roger Benedict, touring numerous times with the Sydney Conservatorium Symphony and Chamber Orchestra as Principal Viola to England, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany and America. These eye-opening experiences and cultural exchanges informed Alina’s decision to continue studies abroad.

    Upon gaining her Masters of Music from the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Alina returned to Australia and commenced living the double life of teacher/performer. Discovering an untapped passion for string pedagogy, she developed her methods at various private schools across Sydney as well as through her private teaching studio. At the same time, Alina performed with the Sydney Art Quartet, Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and The Metropolitan Orchestra, with the latter as Principal Viola.

    In 2018, Alina moved to Canberra to take up an inaugural Kingsland Residency with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Between performance commitments with the CSO, she is a private violin and viola teacher at Canberra Grammar School, Radford College and through her private teaching studio. More about Alina

    Behind the mixtape

    I struggle to acknowledge that I will never be able to hear or watch, learn or perform every single piece of music out there. The fact that there is always room for growth and improvement can be both a challenging and beautiful thing.

     

    I hope you enjoy this highly varied mixtape and come across a new artist or genre that you feel inspired to delve into more.

    ALINA ZAMFIR

    QUEEN Don’t Stop Me Now (Album: Jazz)
    Written by Brian May, Freddie Mercury

    I would have loved to have been alive during the 1970s and 80s to experience some of the best bands in history.

    This song is dedicated to my best friend and sister in another life, Olga. This Queen album was the soundtrack to a road trip we did with some friends, from Salzburg to Switzerland, during a winter semester break. A small piece of advice – expect attention at the border if you cram five music students, all of different nationalities (including several dual passports), into a car with a Polish number plate! Also, make sure you have enough petrol for the 40-kilometre tunnels entering into Switzerland.

    Robert SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E flat, op. 44 4. Allegro, ma non troppo

    This recording is particularly special to me: not only did I have the opportunity to study and perform it during my time at the Mozarteum, but my chamber music group was in fact mentored by members of the Hagen Quartet who were on faculty during my studies. The Hagen Quartet is one of the best in the world and the story of how it came (and remained) together is quite remarkable.

    GORAN BREGOVIĆ, THE WEDDING AND FUNERAL ORCHESTRA Boogie Unca Woogie

    This lesser known Yugoslavian songwriter appeals to the Eastern-European within. His vibrant, good-humoured approach is always entertaining and gets people up and dancing.

    Arvo PÄRT Tabula rasa I. Ludus (Con moto)

    ‘That is my goal. Time and timelessness are connected.’ – Arvo Pärt

    SEAL Kiss from a Rose

    Seal didn’t include printed lyrics with the album, writing: “I think it’s the general vibe of what I’m saying that is important and not the exact literal translation…The song is always larger in the listener’s mind because with it they attach imagery which is relative to their own personal experience. It is your perception of what I’m saying rather than what I actually say that is the key.”

    As an interpreter of black dots, constantly striving to bring new life and meaning to centuries-old pieces of music, I find Seal’s approach to open interpretation refreshing and something all artists should strive towards. This one is for you Mama – thanks for encouraging me to explore the boundaries of interpretation and musicality.

    Maurice RAVEL Tzigane, M. 76
    Performed by Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Polina Leschenko

    One of my favourite pieces of violin music, performed by one of my favourite violinists. Patricia Kopatchinskaja is a Moldovian pocket rocket violinist, an irresistible force of nature. Her approach is passionate, challenging and totally original.

    MUSE Feeling Good
    Written by Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse

    I have numerous friends who have been introduced to classical music and have come to appreciate it thanks to Muse. I find the fusion of classical and rock invigorating.

    Gustav MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A minor ‘Tragic’ II. Scherzo. Wuchtig

    A difficult question I’m often asked is: “If you could only listen to or play a specific classical composer for the rest of your life, who would it be?” After many years of pondering, I have reached a conclusion. It’s Mahler, hands down.

    I don’t have the vocabulary to express my love for Mahler, so a quote of his will have to suffice: “A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” I urge you to listen to everything he has written (preferably while reading about what a remarkable life he lived).

    You Are My Sunshine

    An oldie but a goodie.

    Béla BARTÓK Konzert für Viola und Orchester SZ 120 (1945) (Ed. Tibor Serly) III. Allegro Vivace
    Featuring Tabea Zimmermann

    A staple of the viola repertoire, performed by one of the best violists in the world. I was fortunate enough to watch Tabea Zimmermann perform this concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra live in 2012. Eight years later and I still have goosebumps.

    Yann TIERSEN I’ve Never Been There

    “Failure teaches us that life is but a draft, a long rehearsal for a show that will never play.” – Amelie

    U2 Elevation
    Written by Adam Clayton, Bono, Larry Mullen Jr., The Edge

    Another 1980s rock band indulgence. U2 was the first live band I saw, in Sydney when I was 17. The atmosphere in the stadium was indescribable.  There’s a reason U2 have sold more than 140 million albums worldwide and won 22 Grammy Awards. 

    Oliver DAVIS Flight, Concerto for Violin & Strings: I

    This piece was written in 2013 by British composer Oliver Davis, who has collaborated with ensembles including the Royal Ballet and produced a number of TV commissions.

    Ludwig van BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A major, op. 92 Allegro con brio

    “Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend” – Ludwig van Beethoven.

    Robert CHAUVIGNY, Édith PIAF Non, je ne regrette rien
    Written by Charles Dumont, Michel Vaucaire

    “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” – Pablo Picasso

    The title of this classic summarises my philosophy on life. I’d like to dedicate this to my partner in music and life, Louis.

    MUNGO JERRY In the Summertime
    Written by Mungo Jerry, Ray Dorset

    Written in 1970 by British rock band Mungo Jerry, the title and laidback vibe of this song speaks for itself. Fun fact – it took lead singer Ray Dorset only 10 minutes to write during a work break at his day job.

    This one is dedicated to my dad, who is the reason I have a musical palate beyond classical music. He introduced me to the glorious periods of music that were the 1970s and 80s.

    SPICE GIRLS Spice Up Your Life (Album: Spiceworld)
    Written by Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Matt Rowe, Melanie Chisolm, Richard Stannard, Victoria Beckham

    This Spice Girls album was the first CD I ever received as a child. My poor parents were forced to endure dance performances to the entire record. If they spoke or didn’t seem engaged in my performance, we would have to start again from track one.

    Twenty odd years later, I still struggle to sit still when I hear the Spice Girls. I challenge you NOT to boogie along to this one in the privacy of your own home (or down the aisle of your local supermarket).

    Q&A: Alina Zamfir

    Briefly introduce yourself – tell us your name, your instrument, where you’re living and how you’re connected to the CSO.

    Hello! My name is Alina Zamfir, I am a violist. I moved to Canberra along with my partner Louis two years ago as a recipient of the CSO’s Kingsland Residency.

    Tell us a bit about someone who had a formative influence on you in your creative development.

    My mother is a pianist and the reason I am a musician with an appreciation for art and creativity. Aside from giving me life and encouraging and supporting my musical education and development, my mother inspired me to pursuit ballet for the majority of my childhood, allowed me to learn instruments other than violin and viola (believe it or not, I was once a saxophonist!), fed me endless books, opened my eyes to classic films and artists and fiercely encouraged me to travel the world, to soak up as much culture and life as possible.

    What’s the hardest part about being a musician?

    At the age of eight, I remember coming across the concept of ‘never enough’. This was in relation to my love of books – I was shocked and slightly depressed about the idea that I would never be able to read every single book in the world.

    I find that this concept very much applies to being a musician. Despite the challenges and sacrifices required to reach the ‘professional’ level, I still struggle to acknowledge that I will never be able to hear or watch, learn or perform every single piece of music out there. The fact that there is always room for growth and improvement, whether it be technical, musical, intellectual or emotional can be both a challenging and beautiful thing in my profession.

    Some violists I know also struggle with the viola jokes thrown at us – personally, I embrace them and enjoy making up my own. Ironically, the joke is often on other members of the orchestra as the viola section sits there not being picked on.

    Name three careers you could see yourself in if you weren’t a musician (and tell us why?)

    Paramedic, midwife and forensic scientist/detective. The constant unknown associated with each of those jobs is appealing to me as well as the concept of providing assistance and comfort to people in need. I also have a slightly psycho fascination with detective/crime novels and the psychology behind why crimes are committed.

    One super power you would like to have?

    Time is such a fickle and complex concept – I would love to have control over it.

    Describe your best and worst gigs.

    During my Masters studies at the Mozarteum, there was a Christmas holiday where I chose stay in Salzburg as we only had slightly over a week off school. As most of the students had left for the holidays, I busied myself by accepting a New Year’s Day concert gig. (Picture an André Rieu-like setting in winter, with Austrian Pomp and Circumstance – all the waltzes!) Little did I know it would be outdoors in the Mozart Platz, minus 10 degrees, with snow coming straight at us on the stage. Combine this with slipping pegs on the string instruments, the fear of knowing pneumonia was awaiting us all at the end and an orchestra of which a quarter had come directly from New Year’s celebrations – a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons!

    One of the best ‘gigs’ I performed was also in Salzburg, where the Mozarteum Orchestra performed for the Mozart Woche (Mozart Week) celebrations alongside prominent visiting orchestras. Playing in the golden Mozart Saal on a stage where some of the world’s greatest musicians had performed, around the corner from where Mozart and Heribert Ritter von Karajan were born, was truly memorable. My mother had also come to visit and was in the audience, so the temporary relief of homesickness added to the goose-bump nature of the performance.

    If you were a piece of fruit, which would you be and why?

    A lemon! They are zesty like my personality, fantastic disinfectants (for the germophobe within) and a delectable condiment. Yellow is quite a chirpy colour which I wouldn’t mind being. 

    For what in life do you feel most grateful?

    I am incredibly grateful for the efforts my parents made to migrate to Australia from Romania. Australia is such a heaven on earth compared to many other countries, which I believe offers people the opportunity to be the best version of themselves.

    I am also incredibly fortunate that I get paid to do the three things I love most: to play and teach beautiful music and to inspire fellow human beings.

    What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?

    Take you work seriously – but don’t take yourself too seriously.

    What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently?

    I am currently reading The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose. It is a dazzlingly original novel which asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them.

    THIS CSO MIXTAPE SUPPORTED BY GINNINDERRY  

     

  3. CSO Mixtape: Steve Fitzgerald

    Steve Fitzgerald, Percussion (Image: Martin Ollman)

    Steve Fitzgerald was born and raised in East Gippsland. He studied at the Victorian College of the Arts under the direction of Peter Neville, and at the Australian National University with Gary France.

    Steve has performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, the Basel Festival Orchestra and the Australian Youth Orchestra, with whom he performed as principal percussionist in 2006. He is currently a member of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

    As a chamber musician, Steve has been involved with numerous groups including the Astra Ensemble, Speak Percussion, Synergy Percussion, Graeme Leak & Strange Fruit Theatre, Australian Boys’ Choir and TaikOz.

    In 2007, Steve was a cast member of RAWCUS’ Green Room award-winning production of Hunger. Other highlights include touring with OzOpera’s production of The Sound Garden, cabaret diva Meow Meow’s production of Little Match Girl and working on the shows Kitchen Beat and Chip & Dale’s Cool Service for Tokyo Disneyland.

    As a composer, Steve has twice scored for Canberra’s The Street Theatre: Widowbird (2012) and Johnny Castellano is Dead (2014). He recently performed a live score for Christopher Samuel Carroll’s production of Howie the Rookie (2019). More about Steve

    Selected listening notes

    Mike PATTON, Mondo CANE Che Notte!
    Written by Fred Buscaglione, Leo Chiosso

    I believe that Frank Zappa passed the torch of American iconoclast / art music / rock music / workaholic / mad genius / test pilot / record producer etc. to singer and voice artist Mike Patton, a year or two before his death in 1993. Patton’s output since then could be described as Bach-like (or Zappa-like). Che Notte! is from a collection of Italian pop songs from the 1960s that Patton recorded with the Metropole Orchestra in 2011.

    Igor STRAVINSKY Pulcinella 2. Serenata: Larghetto: “Mentre l’erbetta”

    Pulcinella is like the first ever dance remix. The harmonics in the strings at the beginning of this movement are ghostly and awesome.

    Neko CASE Train From Kansas City (Album: The Tigers Have Spoken)
    Written by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry

    If Judith Durham and Jimmy Barnes had a baby girl who grew up to sing Americana and folk music, she’d be Neko Case’s number one fan. This song sounds like it was written both in 1968 and last week, and has a superb harmony vocal throughout from Case’s regular collaborator Kelly Hogan.

    FAITH NO MORE Midnight Cowboy (Theme From) (Album: Angel Dust)
    Written by John Barry

    John Barry’s theme from the 1969 film gets a majestic treatment from the mercurial, genre-busting terrible infants of the 1990s, Faith No More. That’s lead vocalist Mike Patton on melodica (and if anyone can find me a ride cymbal that sounds like the one at 2:50 I’d love to hear from you!)

    ENSEMBLE AMBROSIUS Sofa (arr. O. Virtaperko)
    Written by Olli Virtoperko

    This group of Norwegian early music specialists arranged a number of Zappa’s instrumental pieces for their ensemble and produced something wholly original. This one was a song to begin with and features the memorable lyric “.. I am the eggs of all persuasion, I am your sofa.”

    Friedrich Gottlieb KLOPSTOCK, Gustav MAHLER, TRAD. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection” IV. Urlicht. Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht
    Performed by Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic

    I’d like to say that Bernstein is to Mahler what Boulez is to Stravinsky. ‘Urlicht’ translates as primal or original light. Somehow the melody in the oboe reminds me of Astro Boy. Oh, let us never drift too far from Mahler! 

    SALYU Kaifuku Suru Kizu (Allbum: Kill Bill Vol. 1 Original soundtrack)
    Performed by Lily Chou-Chou
    Written by Takeshi Kobayashi

    This piece is here because “Who Needs the Kwik E Mart? (Reprise)” isn’t available on Spotify, and I wanted to include the only other piece of music I know that articulates so vulnerable and sorrowful a feeling. Quentin Tarantino lifted this from the soundtrack to a Japanese film called All About Lily Chou-Chou. I saw it once; it was really slow and I couldn’t figure it out.

    Edward ELGAR, Richard GARNETT Sea Pictures, Op. 37 IV. Where Corals Lie

    A bit of nostalgia here: picture an 18-year-old Stevie Fitz in the deep end, learning to count his rests behind the timps of the Preston Symphony Orchestra. This song has really stayed with me.

    Fritz HAUSER Tutuguri (Album: Solo Drumming)

    Take a chance on this one – find a quiet moment or two and listen carefully! I had the good fortune to spend some time with Fritz Hauser at his home in Basel, I learned an enormous amount from him.

    Maurice RAVEL String Quartet In F major, M.35 2. Assez vif. Très rythmé
    Performed by Tinalley String Quartet

    Wes Anderson used this over the opening titles to his 1998 film The Royal Tenenbaums. I think this Decca recording of the Aussie Tinalley String Quartet gets the tempo just right.

    Johann Sebastian BACH Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
    Performed by Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, Yo-Yo Ma

    This begins the Chris Thile portion of the playlist! The American virtuoso mandolin player has been on my radar since his days with Nickel Creek, a slightly different kind of trio to this one and well worth checking out.

    Aoife O’DONOVAN, Chris THILE, Edgar MEYER, Stuart DUNCAN Here and Heaven
    Performed by Aoife O’Donovan, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan, Yo-Yo Ma

    This one speaks for itself! Enjoy.

    PUNCH BROTHERS Passepied (Debussy) (Album: The Phosphorescent Blues)
    Written by Claude Debussy

    These guys are a bluegrass band that defy the category of bluegrass band! Some people call them “newgrass”…I don’t. This features Chris Thile on mandolin.

    Joni MITCHELL Both Sides Now
    Performed by Joni Mitchell, Vince Mendoza

    The orchestral arrangement of this classic is just the best! The strings sound like the very end of Strauss’ Alpensinfonie and the soprano saxophone of Wayne Shorter is the last thing you’d expect to hear in a song so seemingly sad. 

    JD McNAIR Until You Run Out of Time (EP: Any Day Now)

    From local songwriter JD McNair’s EP of last year. It’s pared back and haunting and hopeful.

    Calum BUILDER, Tate SHERIDAN Unrequited (Album: In Hiding)

    Tate and Calum are ex-Canberran jazz musicians who have recently been doing very different things (opening for Elton John and composing liturgical masses, respectively). This piece is so simple and the theme (the ‘chorus’ or ‘head’ as they say in jazz) is often somewhere in the back of my head as I go about my day.

    Joni MITCHELL Amelia (Album: Hejira)

    This song was written about the pioneering pilot Amelia Earhart, from my favourite Joni Mitchell album: Hejira. It’s the kind of record you might play on your CD Walkman in 2007 while walking around the rainy streets of Melbourne with a broken heart :’ )

    Igor STRAVINSKY Pétrouchka Tableau 2, Petrushka’s Room

    We named our son Peter after finding out that ‘Petrushka’ is a common nickname for Peters in Russia. (Ok, there are a couple of other reasons he’s named Peter!) The three bars of piano at 2:06 are so beautiful!

    Ennio MORRICONE L’Ultima Diligenza di Red Rock (From “The Hateful Eight” Soundtrack / Versione Integrale)

    In the opening credit sequence, the hi-hats enter with the title card ‘The eighth film by Quentin Tarantino’ and it’s just about as cool as anything ever put on celluloid. Listen out for the pairing of contrabassoon and double bass. I love the contrabassoon – in the CSO percussion section, we’re often sitting right behind Kristen Sutcliffe when she’s playing it. Fun!

    Francis POULENC Tel jour, telle nuit: Nous avons fait la nuit

    This song cycle was included on a weird Naxos compilation I bought because it had Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite on it. I’ve been listening to this song for 15 years and have never Google translated the lyrics…I still have no idea what the guy is singing about! My guess is it’s about love though – and if it is, I think it’s the greatest love song ever written by a man or a woman. The piano postlude is utter magic. It’s impossible to tell if we are re-entering reality or leaving it behind completely.

    Ennio MORRICONE Jill’s Theme (From “Once Upon a Time in the West”)

    Is there a more beautiful melody than Jill’s leftmotif from Once Upon a Time in America? The prolific Ennio Morricone was composing remarkable music up until his death this year. Vale.

    Jeff BUCKLEY Corpus Christi Carol (Album: Grace)
    Written by Benjamin Britten

    A perfect performance from a perfect album. I don’t think that Grace will ever age.

    Jaco PASTORIUS Three Views of a Secret (Album: Work of Mouth)

    I still can’t get over the level of invention that went on with pioneer jazz bass player Jaco Pastorius. He’s up there with Stravinsky and Zappa as far as I’m concerned.

    Sviatoslav RICHTER Gaspard De La Nuit

    I love everything about this piece: the spacey tempo, its central place within the suite, that scary bell that tolls throughout.

    Frank ZAPPA, ENSEMBLE MODERN Peaches en Regalia

    One of the five instrumental numbers from the Hot Rats album of 1969, this sparkling, virtuosic arrangement is just another day at the office for Frankfurt’s legendary Ensemble Modern. As Gail Zappa said regarding this one, “Everybody deserves a great dessert.”

    Curator profile: Steve Fitzgerald

    Briefly introduce yourself – tell us your name, your instrument, where you’re living and how you’re connected to the CSO.

    Hi everybody! I’m Steve Fitzgerald. I’ve been a percussionist with the CSO for ten years now and I live in the cosiest suburb in Canberra: Hackett.

    How did you come to be a musician? 

    As a kid I had eight years of Saturday morning piano lessons. At the same time, my big brother was teaching me what he knew about the drum set. When the Musica Viva percussion ensemble “Woof” came to my school in Year 12 I got up the courage to talk to them after the show about “how do you become someone who can do what you just did?” They gave me the number of the Victorian College of the Arts’ head of percussion, Peter Neville. That was when I began to get serious about being a percussionist.

    What’s your most treasured childhood memory related to music? 

    I loved hearing my Mum play piano in church. Her style of piano playing is pretty unique: she had a kind of 1970s gospel-stride thing going on, and a really mean left hand! She would end most songs with these fast, arpeggiated runs of the tonic chord with a major 6 added. Nowadays, I know the sound of that chord anywhere!

    Tell us a bit about someone who had a formative influence on you in your creative development. 

    I met composer and percussionist Graeme Leak in the final year of my undergraduate performance degree and he really changed the way I thought about what it meant to be a performing musician. He had a classical training but made his name in theatre and comedy and all manner of cross-disciplinary artistic ventures. He is my hero. His awesome sister Lyn lives here in Canberra and was a music teaching colleague of mine at Canberra Grammar until she retired a few years ago.

    Who or what motivates you to pursue music? 

    I am motivated to pursue music because of a deep-seated and perhaps unreasonable hope that eventually I may stumble upon a form of musical expression that can be of some help to someone (other than myself, that is!).

    What’s the hardest part about being a musician?

    Certainly the hardest thing about being a percussionist is that journey of finding an identity. Percussion isn’t an instrument, so it doesn’t help that much to say “I’m a percussionist” and expect people to know what exactly that means. (I mean, it doesn’t mean anything exactly). People inevitably tend to think it means a) that you play the bongos (even though they mean ‘congas’); b) that you’re using a fancy word for ‘drummer’; or c) *insert triangle joke*.

    What does creativity mean to you? Is everyone creative?

    Of course, this depends on what we mean by ‘creative’. I suspect there’s a spectrum at play. My theory on this is that, yes, everyone is creative on some level. We could certainly say that my cousin is very creative with her scrapbooking hobby. However, the creativity that we talk about in terms of the arts is very rare and kind of a terrifying thing. In that sense, no, I don’t think that everyone is. I think that people who deal in that kind of invention and creativity are often walking on a tightrope between the real world and some future madness. It’s a relief not to have that kind of burden!

    Are there any assumptions about these composers that you’d like to challenge?

    I think that Poulenc is too often considered as light and fluffy or a dandy. I think that Frank Zappa is too often considered as a crazy or undisciplined character – which couldn’t be further from the truth! Zappa worked 16-hour days, either writing or recording in the studio, when he wasn’t on tour. This schedule lasted 25 years.

    Describe a memorable music experience you enjoyed as an audience member. 

    One has to be Faith No More at Festival Hall in 2010 – they broke into a flawless rendition of the shout chorus from Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke in the middle of their classic Midlife Crisis. It was the best! They returned to their song without skipping a beat.

    Another was Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s 2004 performance of Mahler 2. It was unforgettable; when the organ entered in the fifth movement, I’m pretty sure that the ground was shaking.

    There was also Queenie van Zandt’s Joni Mitchell tribute show in the Wolumla Town Hall a year or two ago.

    I miss gigs!

    For what in life do you feel most grateful?

    I suspect that I am most grateful for the traditions of language, religion and culture that I have inherited. Given the horror and misery that characterises the bulk of human history, I am also grateful for every day in which things haven’t devolved into terror and chaos!

    Describe your best and worst gigs

    When Lalo Schifrin came to Melbourne in 2007, I was in with the Melbroune Symphnoy Orchestra for the week as a casual. His arrangements of his film scores and jazz music were surprisingly un-cheesy and the band playing out the front of the orchestra included James Morrison on brass instruments and the great Sydney drummer Gordon Rhytmeister. I was playing a shaker part all the way through Birdland and I was so in time with Rhytmeister’s hi-hats that my mind dripped into the cracks of the stage and I was at peace!

    I’ll ditto Tim Wickham on describing the worst gig – no comment!

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