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Performers Sydney Symphony Orchestra Conductor Benjamin Northey



Voices Caroline Gesret, Els Janssens, Katarina Livljanic´ & Aurore Tillac

Cantus arcticus – Concerto for birds and orchestra, Op.61 (1972)

Direction Katarina Livljanic´

1. The Bog 2. Melancholy 3. Swans Migrating Isle of Bliss (1995) Symphony No.7, Angel of Light (1994)

1. Tranquillo 2. Molto allegro 3. Come un sogno 4. Pesante Approximate durations: 17 minutes, 12 minutes, 35 minutes

INTRODUCTION TO THE CONCERT When Rautavaara died last year, the musical world lost “the greatest Finnish composer since Sibelius”. In programming this tribute concert, the challenge has been to represent the sheer diversity of his style, which had embraced so many musical languages, from his first work of prominence in the 1950s (A Requiem in Our Time) to his final creations. We’ve chosen two works from the 1990s, which represent the distinctive sound world that emerged in his mature style. His essentially tonal harmonic language and luscious orchestral colours paint a picture of an island paradise in the ecstatic Isle of Bliss. His Angel of Light symphony is one of the many ‘angel-themed’ works from his later years, evoking visions both beautiful and terrible that had haunted him since childhood. And we begin with music from 1972 – a majestic ‘concerto’ filled with Rautavaara’s hallmark bursts of birdsong and sweeping melodies.


CONDUCTOR: BENJAMIN NORTHEY Since returning to Australia from Europe in 2006, Benjamin Northey has emerged as one of the nation’s leading musical figures, conducting all the Australian symphony orchestras and productions for State Opera of South Australia, Victorian Opera and Opera Australia. He is Associate Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. He studied at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and then with Jorma Panula and Leif Segerstam at Finland’s Sibelius Academy. Internationally, he has conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Southbank Sinfonia of London, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic and the major New Zealand orchestras. SYDNEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA DAVID ROBERTSON Chief Conductor & Artistic Director Founded in 1932 by the ABC, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra has evolved into one of the world’s finest orchestras as Sydney has become one of the world’s great cities. Resident at the Sydney Opera House, the SSO also performs regularly at City Recital Hall, tours NSW and internationally, and it is well on its way to becoming the premier orchestra of the Asia Pacific region. The SSO’s performances encompass masterpieces from the classical repertoire, music by some of the finest living composers, festival events, and collaborations with artists and ensembles from all genres, reflecting the orchestra’s versatility and diverse appeal.

Voices Stjepan Franetovic´, Srec´ko Damjanovic´, Josˇko C´aleta, Nikola Damjanovic´, Milivoj Rilov & Marko Rogosˇic´ Direction Josˇko C´aleta Semi-staging and Dialogos Costumes Sanda Herzic ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE

The dalmatica is mostly known as a medieval liturgical vestment, typical for the Byzantine clergy. As a symbolic link between the Byzantine and Roman liturgical traditions, as a bridge between men’s and women’s clothing, it served as an inspiration for the creation of this project in which the four female singers of Dialogos are joined by six traditional cantors from Croatia to explore the Dalmatian liturgical musical traditions since the Middle Ages. The two distinct groups of singers in this programme chose rare pieces, following the main liturgical celebrations from Christmas to Easter, to represent traditions of this country which enjoyed a very special “double status” in the Roman church, since medieval Croatian priests were allowed to celebrate the liturgy in the church Slavonic language. In that way, the Dalmatian coast of Croatia and the islands lived in a double, bilingual liturgical tradition: Latin and Glagolitic. Glagolitic chant was mostly orally transmitted during the last ten centuries as a distinctive feature of Roman Catholic liturgical chant in Croatia. It is still preserved in some coastal, insular and hinterland communities of Croatia, where it is regularly performed through the entire liturgical year, reaching its culmination in the Christmas and Lenten seasons, particularly during Holy Week. Liturgical books which survive from medieval Croatia also bear witness to this double tradition: next to the calligraphy of Latin manuscripts, we find sources in Glagolitic script used in Croatia.

The Dialogos vocalists perform some rare gems conserved in Latin manuscripts, some of them coming from the female monastic world, while the Glagolitic chants originating from the coastal, insular and hinterland regions of Croatia are sung by the the vocal ensemble Kantaduri, creating together a rich sound fresco Katarina Livjanic´ (who is Associate Professor in Medieval Music at the Sorbonne University, Paris) & Josˇko C´aleta DIALOGOS Dialogos was created by Katarina Livljanic´ in Paris in 1997, and under her direction has emerged as one of the most outstanding and original medieval music ensembles in Europe. The ensemble’s projects link new musicological research with an innovative approach to medieval music performance, a theatrical dimension, and an expressive musicality. Since its first projects, Dialogos has been acclaimed by critics and performed in concert halls and festivals worldwide at venues and festivals including the Lincoln Center in New York, Festival of Utrecht, Royal Festival Hall in London, Cité de la Musique in Paris, Boston Early Music Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival. KANTADURI Led by Josˇko C´aleta, the Kantaduri ensemble consists of six traditional singers who each come from different parts of Croatian Dalmatia and are proof of the rich culture and diversity of that region. Caleta is an associate of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore in Zagreb, as well as an active singer, arranger, conductor and composer of klapa singing. Dialogos receives a subsidy from DRAC Ile-de-France – French Ministry of Culture and Communication.


Vocal and Daf Alim Qasimov Vocal and Daf Fargana Qasimova Balaban Rafael Asgarov Kamancha Rauf Islamov Naghara Javidan Nabiyev Tar Zaki Valiyev

ALIM QASIMOV Alim Qasimov is one of Azerbaijan’s most renowned and beloved singers, a master of both the classical Azerbaijani mugham and the traditional popular songs of the ashiq bards. He is an innovator and experimentalist who has infused new musical energy into traditional repertoires and performance styles. In 1999, Qasimov was awarded the prestigious International IMC-UNESCO Music Prize (previous winners include Dmitri Shostakovich, Leonard Bernstein, Ravi Shankar and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan). Following a 2010 concert at Asia Society in New York, The New York Times music critic Jon Pareles wrote: “Alim Qasimov is simply one of the greatest singers alive, with a searing spontaneity that conjures passion and devotion, contemplation and incantation.” Alim Qasimov appears on many recordings, including Alim and Fargana Qasimov: Spiritual Music of Azerbaijan (Music of Central Asia, vol. 6), co-produced by the Aga Khan Music Initiative and released on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. FARGANA QASIMOVA Fargana Qasimova has been a musical protegée of her father, Alim Qasimov, since early childhood, and has performed professionally with him since the age of 16, singing both mugham and ashiq songs. Qasimova also studied mugham at the Azerbaijan National Conservatory, graduating in 2000.

In addition to performing with her father, she has launched her own career as a vocalist, appearing in concerts around the world with the four instrumentalists of the Qasimov Ensemble. Alim and Fargana Qasimov appeared as featured singers in the production of Layla and Majnun by the Mark Morris Dance Company and musicians of the Silk Road Ensemble. ENSEMBLE Alim and Fargana Qasimov have mined the venerable tradition of Azerbaijani music to create the hybrid songs performed on this evening’s program: ashiq songs – the music of troubadours, or bardic singer-instrumentalists who represent a more popular vein of Azerbaijani tradition than the classical mugham. Melding ashiq songs and mugham melodies, the Qasimovs and their small instrumental ensemble create an original form of fusion music – not a blending of culturally distinct traditions in the style of contemporary world music “crossover”, but a purely Azerbaijani form of fusion. Adept at rendering both the filigree melodic embellishment characteristic of mugham and the fullthroated, often jocular lyrics of ashiq songs, Alim and Fargana Qasimov seamlessly weave the two kinds of music together in a set of original arrangements enriched by the instrumental texture of plucked and bowed stringed instruments (tar and kamancha), clarinet (balaban), and percussion (naghara). This program is presented in collaboration with Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

Classical Music program  

Rautavaara, Dalmatica: Chants of the Adriatic and Alim Qasimov Ensemble.

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