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Portrait Gallery to resound to the power of percussion dynamo

By Ian Bushnell 5 March 2019

Claire Edwardes will perform new Australian music at the National Portrait Gallery. Photo: Supplied.

It’s going to be new, and probably not like anything you may have heard or seen before but the payoff will be an absorbing concert of original sounds delivered in a way guaranteed to raise the heartbeat.

The year’s first Australian Series concert at the National Portrait Gallery will feature a powerhouse program of new works for solo percussion performed by the dynamic Claire Edwardes.

The Power of One, on Thursday 14 March, will see Edwardes, dubbed the Sorceress of Percussion, present a spellbinding range of contemporary compositions she has put together with curator Matthew Hindson, all of which have been written specifically for her or by her.

Edwardes is an internationally-acclaimed Australian percussion soloist, chamber musician and artistic director of Sydney-based innovative new music group, Ensemble Offspring.

She plans to take the audience on a journey through different soundworlds using a variety of instruments including vibraphone, waterphone, temple bowls, wooden temple blocks, wind chime and snare drum.

From Michael Smetanin’s Temple for solo temple blocks to Canberra-based composer Benjamin Drury’s Stained Glass for vibraphone and electronics, Edwardes will showcase the remarkable breadth and depth of music written for percussion.

The program also includes works by award-winning Netherlands-based composer Kate Moore, rising star Clare Strong and a brand new Canberra Symphony Orchestra commission by young Indigenous composer Rhyan Clapham, as well as two works written by Edwardes herself.

While the range of sounds will be broad, the instrumental set-ups will be minimalist, promising an intimate experience in the extraordinary acoustic of the Gordon Darling Hall.

For Edwardes, percussion performance can be highly engaging, visual and visceral.

“There is something very liberating about bashing the crap out of a drum of course, especially if you’re feeling in a certain mood,” she says, although she describes some of the pieces she will perform as beguiling, meditative and eerie.

While firmly grounded in the classical repertoire, Edwardes is committed to new music and excited by the prospect of discovering and exploring original sounds, and bringing them to audiences.

“It’s a really relevant instrument for this day and age, a new instrument, coming into its own,” she says.

Many of the works will be accompanied by backing tracks to expand on the acoustic palette, a growing trend among composers.

Edwardes says the aim is to transport the listener, such as in Stained Glass with its electronic soundscape evoking a church or cathedral.

“It’s about taking the audience on a journey to all these different soundworlds and places and often it’s quite unexpected,” she says.

After the performance, the audience is invited to explore the power of a single photograph in the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 exhibition.

This concert is the first installment in the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s Australian Series presented by Singapore Airlines for 2019; a unique project committed to showcasing high-quality Australian music and instrumentalists in collaboration with the finest portraiture in the country.

The Power of One
Thursday 14 March, 2019
Gordon Darling Hall, National Portrait Gallery, 6.30pm

Presented by Singapore Airlines
Claire Edwardes Percussion
Matthew Hindson AM Curator

RHYAN CLAPHAM New CSO commission (2019)
MICHAEL SMETANIN Temple (2018)
BENJAMIN DRURY Stained Glass (2018)
CLAIRE EDWARDES Ether Lines (2018)
CLARE STRONG Moonlight (2017)
KATE MOORE Spel (Game) (2016)
CLAIRE EDWARDES/PAUL MAC Dual Attractor (2018)

For more information and tickets, visit cso.org.au or call CSO Direct on 6262 6772.


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