My preoccupation with a new Artaria album, featuring the Oboe Concerto by Judith Weir CBE, Master of the King's Music, has lingered for years now.
The Concerto—recorded in 2018 with co-commissioners Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and conductor Douglas Boyd in Adelaide Town Hall—is a fabulously lyrical work. And a significant addition to our repertoire!
All oboists—including Douglas, Judith, and I—have found lasting fascination in Benjamin Britten’s iconic solo work for our instrument, Six Metamorphoses after Ovid. We’ve discussed programming one of the most emotional pieces, Niobe, as a contrasting encore with the Concerto.
In 2020, when the global pandemic took hold, group musical activities came to a sharp halt. In response, I focused on Britten’s six solo works, reconnecting with my artistic practice.
With support from Arts South Australia, and with former Adelaide Festival Director Anthony Steel reading quotations from Ovid, we performed our solo show in another of National Trust SA’s significant Adelaide buildings—Z Ward, a former psychiatric hospital at Glenside.
We collaborated with Peramangk photographer, Finn Mellor, and other former Mount Barker Steiner School students. Finn created twelve portraits working to my musical, synesthetic colour palette. You can read more about the project here.
A video presentation will also soon be available on the Artaria YouTube channel. I recorded the Britten piece in North Adelaide Baptist Church to release with a new work this September.
An Endless Metamorphosis
To link these two significant English works—(re)interpreted from South Australia—I felt driven to commission a new Australian piece. With COVID playing its part, another solo oboe was a symmetrical (and safe) option.
Dynamic young composer Anne Cawrse immediately came to mind. Her lyrical work would perfectly complement the oboe’s capabilities, creating a harmonious dialogue between sound and narrative.
Myself and composer Anne Cawrse.
Anne, who is National Trust SA and Peggy Glanville Hicks Trust’s Prelude Composer in Residence, is known for her focus on female history and interpreting the written word. I gave her Charles Martin’s vibrant 2004 translation of Ovid and invited her to pick six new characters and pen a personal response—or alternative to— Britten’s Six Metamorphoses.
Anne’s new work is called Carmen Perpetuum, or Endless Song—a 21st-century response to Britten’s original works. Her six characters are:
Anne CAWRSE (2022)
Carmen Perpetuum (2022)
“These six solos have been composed as a contemporary alternative to Benjamin Britten’s
seminal 1951 oboe work Six Metamorphoses after Ovid. The musical interpretation of each
myth is the composer’s own; it is hoped that the variety and choice of stories offer a fresh
perspective on Ovid’s ‘unending song’...” - Anne Cawrse, 2022
Anne’s piece will premiere live in Adelaide on August 19th at St Peter’s Cathedral before releasing with Britten’s Metamorphosis in September. Click here for tickets to the Cathedral concert with organist and Queen’s Medal for Music holder, Thomas Trotter.
Judith’s Concerto will release on August 25th, coinciding with her Proms Word Premiere for my former orchestra, the BBC Symphony. Click here to pre-order on your preferred platform.
Anne Cawrse and I are now two of the three national Excellence in Classical Music finalists in the Australian Women in Music Awards, held in Brisbane on September 27. Wish us luck and Go South Australia! Click here for details.
As always, I’m so grateful for your support. I hope you enjoy all of Endless Song!