In an age where there is almost no such thing as anonymity, Música Anonymous brings together Adelaide’s award winning Zephyr Quartet and acclaimed New York-based Sydney-born soprano Jane Sheldon, in a program that pays tribute to composers unknown.
Showcasing pure and brilliant sound and the communication of raw, intimate human emotions through the medium of voice and string quartet, Música Anonymous explores the wonderful legacy of music bequeathed to us through the ages by anonymous composers; and questions the future of traditional folk music.
Universally folk songs are linked by strong themes: love and the loss of love, death and the supernatural, dance and celebration, lullabies and childhood and the wonder of nature. Art music composers have traditionally used folk song and traditional music in their compositions, from Beethoven and Bartok to Berio and beyond.
In Música Anonymous, Zephyr and Jane explore these universal themes by gathering and arranging folk music of meaning to themselves and to other composers. As well as music arranged by Zephyr and Jane, Música Anonymous will also feature Quincy Grant’s Irish Folk Songs, Andrew Ford’s Tales of the Supernatural and Folk Songs Set 11B by Iranian composer Reza Vali. This truly global program also features music from Mexico, Spain, Iceland, Finland, Macedonia, France and Israel.
“I think it’s a way to acknowledge that within each culture, folk music comes to be a kind of musical language to refer to place, often with an unashamed sentimentality, and so becomes a shorthand way to refer to that place in a fairly simple, affectionate way,” says Jane Sheldon. “It’s a good time to be talking about what the future of folk music is given globalisation and information-sharing and anonymity now being almost impossible to achieve”
Zephyr Quartet is a bold and adventurous string quartet, delighting in the exploration of diverse music and forging dynamic collaborations. Since its inception in 1999 the quartet has shown a continued determination to expand the boundaries of art music and how it is received by audiences.
A firm believer in the power of the string quartet as a medium to communicate and explore complex relationships between society and art, Zephyr has achieved an enviable reputation for artistic excellence, innovation and audience development, and comprises Belinda Gehlert (violin), Emily Tulloch (violin), Jason Thomas (Viola) and Hilary Kleinig (cello).
Armed with the spirit of collaboration, Zephyr Quartet has become a leading exponent of collaborative arts practice, drawing inspiration from working with artists from diverse backgrounds, including theatre, dance, literature, visual art, environmental art, design, film and media art, to produce work that is vital, current and courageous.
Jane Sheldon, praised by the New York Times for singing “sublimely”, specialises in early music and active in the creation and performance of new works. She has sung under the direction of William Christie, Charles Dutoit, Antony Walker, and Reinbert de Leeuw and has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera, Boston Camerata, Halcyon and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Jane is also a member of the acclaimed touring ensemble for composer John Zorn and has performed his music throughout the world.
Música Anonymous will be presented at the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House (17 June); Elder Hall, Adelaide University (19 June); and the Beckett Theatre, Malthouse Theatre (20 June). For more information, visit: www.zephyrquartet.com for details.
Image: Zephyr Quartet with Jane Sheldon