Collingwood Town Hall, Hoddle Street, Abbotsford VIC
"The Rain of Dragon Fire" (2023) – first performance
choir with 7-stringed Russian guitar, accordion, soprano saxophone, strings, percussion, organ positiv and celeste
Texts by Shakespeare, Rilke and Neil Kelly.
Neil Kelly, a founding member of the international artist-composer collective Slave Pianos, has a long career of cross-disciplinary work on historical and cultural themes, breaching boundaries of music and performance theatre, formality and fluxus, East and West in art and politics, the technological and the tactile in musical sound.
These elements are assembled around the recondite presence of a human choir in his new multi-movement Cold War Songs.
Prominent among the instrumental actors is a 7-string semistrunka Russian guitar from the early 20th Century recently acquired by the composer, which formerly belonged to the legendary Don Cossack Choir 1925-1939. Inscriptions on the guitar – melodic fragments, quotations - extend into a musical fabric of voices and instruments that harnesses the guitar's history and musical energy.
The concert prepares some heterogeneous paths to the new work, with works by Alban Berg, George Brecht, William Byrd, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Hildegard von Bingen and György Ligeti. The last-named composer is celebrated in his centenary year with the seminal LUX AETERNA of 1967.