Art is not meant to be only entertaining but a serious practice into reaching the frontiers of human wisdom. Music is an art which achieves such incredible flights through sound. In this spirit, the second concert of the Soundstream Adelaide New Music Festival 2010 was devoted to a stream of composers whose works are focused primarily on sound. Similarly to artists working with the optical spectrum, these composers explore the continuum of musical tone in its numerous appearances.

The program gave the audience a taste of spectralist music with performances of some of the best representatives over the years: Giacinto Scelsi, Tristan Murail, Gerard Gisey, Claude Vivier, Kaija Saariaho. What is more, the concert featured a world premiere of an Australian work by James Cuddeford.

Cuddeford’s Ko-Lho was the highlight of the evening. This chamber work in three movements stunned the listeners with its sonorous freshness. The music has the wondrous quality to condition the listener’s mind beyond habitual expectations and thus into a meditative state; precisely what Cuddeford implied with the title.

In this performance Ensemble Offspring included Roland Peelman (conductor), Lamorna Nightingale (flutes), Jason Noble (clarinets), Clemens Leske (piano), Anna McMichael (violin) and Geoffrey Gartner (cello). This vibrant group of musicians successfully crusades the cause of new music in Australia. Their mastery of extended techniques and deep experience of this repertoire left the audience gasping.

Spectralist music is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. It is an acquired taste, which reaps lasting rewards for those who learn to appreciate it. Approximately 70 audience members had the privilege to have a live experience of this style and its ability to push the mind into hitherto unknown territories through sonic perception at the intimately toned down Studio 520. The compositions were introduced by Julian Day and recorded by ABC Classic FM. James Cuddeford was present and spoke briefly about his life in Hong Kong as Concertmaster of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

Soundstream: Adelaide New Music Festival

Venue: Studio 520, ABC Studios, 85 North East Road, Collinswood SA
Date/Time: Friday 27 August 2010, 8.30pm
Tickets: $45 - $15

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