Church of All Nations, 180 Palmerston St, Carlton Vic 3053
Martin Friedel, Julian Yu, Cindy John, György Ligeti, John J. Becker, J.S. Bach, Johann Kuhnau
The Astra Choir with Michael Kieran Harvey (piano) and instrumental ensemble, conducted by John McCaughey
This concert centres on the premiere of the final work by Martin Friedel, composed through the pandemic years and completed in early 2022 for solo pianist Michael Kieran Harvey. Friedel's death in late 2022 ended more than three decades of choral and instrumental contributions to Astra concerts, embracing many domains of thought and art, science and poetry, nature and politics.
This final work, made up of 10 short pieces, seeks out a new and original engagement with piano performance, and takes its title from a sentence of the Tibetan Buddhist Siddha Milarepa (1040-1123):
Regard as one, this life, the next life, and the life in between.
Pathways in the space 'in between' one time and another are further explored in other works of the concert, where composers write music 'after' other music.
Among such interactions of the program:
Australian composer Julian Yu places choir between two fantastically ornamented pianos in his re-composing (1990) of J.S. Bach's famous opening Prelude to the Well-Tempered Klavier. In another transformative adventure, Yu converts the wind bagatelles by centenary composer György Ligeti into a choral experience that includes the implanting of a Mandarin poem from his own Chinese heritage.
Bach himself created a new cladding of instrumental sound around a motet by his immediate Leipzig predecessor Johann Kuhnau. He also changes its Latin text to German words that are only too current in 2023: The just one perishes and no-one takes it to heart... the righteous are snatched away in the face of the calamity.