Put the word divine in the title of a concert and I’m there. There is no better tonic for the soul than beautiful music, which Brisbane’s Southern Cross Soloists will be supplying plenty of this year.

Oh, I’m sure they will challenge us occasionally with something that we should be listening to for our own good, but they have not lost sight of one of the key reasons why people like classical and chamber music. That is, because it is beautiful.

As patron Dame Quentin Bryce said in her program message for 2024: “I never cease to be enthralled by the experiences we share as we witness virtuosic artists who remind us, as they play exquisite music, of the complexities of human emotion.”

With that in mind Southern Cross Soloists’ (SXS) artistic director Tania Frazer and her team have developed a gorgeous program for this year’s first mainstage concert on March 3 at 3pm. Yes, I know it’s your siesta time but never mind.

The concert is called Divine Alchemy, which is a double-banger of a title bound to attract attention.

Frazer says the concert will be “exploring the transformation of challenging life experiences into extraordinary, profound and thought-provoking musical works of art”.

“Divine Alchemy delves into the realm of beauty emerging from unexpected sources, presenting a musical journey forged in the crucible of adversity.

“The concert program showcases extraordinary works of beauty by Bach, Debussy, Mozart and an Australian premiere of Vuillermet’s exquisitely moving piece Elegie.

“We’ll also present a unique work by composers Seán O’Boyle AM and Chris Williams, commissioned for the SXS Didgeridoo Commissioning Project, inspired by the life of Wakka Wakka elder, Maureen Williams.”

Along with the SXS players the concert will feature the amazing Konstantin Shamray on piano (he’s now a regular), with Chris Williams on didgeridoo. Talented young Kiwi violinist Amalia Hall, fresh from some European performances, will add something special.

Shamray will play Mozart’s renowned Piano Concerto in C Minor while Williams will play his specially commissioned piece. Guest violin soloist Hall will play a sonata by Debussy and the Australian premiere of Elegie, a profoundly moving piece by French composer Thibaut Vuillermet.

As well as being a first for Australian audiences, Elegie is a first for the 35-year-old violinist.

“Tania Frazer actually brought the Elegie to my attention,” Hall says. “It’s a stunningly beautiful piece, which really allows the violin to be an emotional expression of suffering and melancholy – but as the composer Thibaut Vuillermet writes about it, there is a metamorphosis in Elegie, which aspires to a brighter dimension, a vibrant ode to life.

“I used to play the Debussy sonata a lot, but it has actually been about 10 years since I last played it. So I’m looking forward to coming back to it from a more mature perspective and exploring the nuances that will be possible in this new arrangement, which expands the piano part to multiple instruments.

“It will add an entirely new depth and dimension – and I’m sure Debussy would approve, as he was a master of colour, texture and orchestration.”

Hall has played with SXS before at QPAC and at the Bangalow Chamber Music Festival, which SXS runs each year. (If you have never been, do yourself a favour.)

She says she really loves this chamber music outfit’s “collaborative approach, which blurs the lines between solo, chamber music and ensemble playing”.

“Every player is individually so fantastic, and when the group plays together, it really showcases the different musical personalities and the timbres of each instrument, which I think makes it really fascinating for the audience,” she says. “Another key element of SXS is the interesting programming from Tania Frazer. Each piece contrasts so beautifully in many ways with the surrounding repertoire.”

Hall, who was born and raised in Auckland, has recently played in Europe. After her Brisbane performance she is heading to Mexico and Honduras to perform. While based in New Zealand, she but loves coming across the ditch.

“My first experience playing in Australia was a Suzuki conference at the Sydney Opera House when I was five,” she recalls. “I only really began to play in Australia over the last few years, including four projects with SXS.”

SXS’s next Brisbane concert in June is Perfumes of the East, with guest artist and soprano du jour, Brisbane’s own Nina Korbe.

In October they will present Magic, Mystique and Melancholy with Catharina Lee starring on violin and David Elton on trumpet. Chris Williams will play didgeridoo for all three concerts.

Then there is the SXS Sunset Soiree Recital Series 2024 and in August The 21st Bangalow Chamber Music Festival, which is one of the most charming music festivals in the country. I’ve been twice and I’m a convert. If you have never been, pencil in August 15 to 18. I might see you there.


Make a comment View comment guidelines

Support local arts journalism

Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.

Donate Here

. You are free to republish the text and graphics contained in this article online and in print, on the condition that you follow our republishing guidelines.

You must attribute the author and note prominently that the article was originally published by InReview.  You must also inlude a link to InReview. Please note that images are not generally included in this creative commons licence as in most cases we are not the copyright owner. However, if the image has an InReview photographer credit or is marked as “supplied”, you are free to republish it with the appropriate credits.

We recommend you set the canonical link of this content to https://inreview.com.au/inreview/music/2024/02/19/divine-intervention-creating-exquisite-musical-works-of-art/ to insure that your SEO is not penalised.

Copied to Clipboard