The Man in the Other Room


The Acacia Quartet, in one of its final performances for the year, will feature an exciting body of work including a collaboration with leading Australian Soprano Ayse Göknur Shanal. The program features Osvaldo Golijov’s How Slow The Wind and Tenebrae, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s famous String Quartet KV421 and a world premiere of Ross Fiddes The Man In The Other Room for Soprano & String Quartet.

In fact, it all started when Fiddes contacted Acacia Quartet and asked if they would be interested in performing a piece of his for Soprano and string quartet with Shanal. “Of course, as with all newly composed pieces, we showed interest and that was the start for a future program for Soprano and string quartet,” said Acacia’s violist Stefan Duwe. The group has worked with a Soprano before; a collaboration with vocal ensemble Halcyon in 2011, performing Gordon Kerry and Osvaldo Golijov.

Acacia also recorded a CD of folksongs (North + South) with Soprano Jane Sheldon in 2012. “Both times we really enjoyed working with voices, in the rehearsals, concerts and in the studio. I believe there’s nothing more exciting in music than listening (and working) to a beautiful voice or instrument, so working with great singers was very fulfilling,” said Duwe. “I should point out that both pieces by Golijov as well as Fiddes The Man In The Other Room are very melodic and easy to listen to, even though they’re contemporary.”

Fiddes wrote the work for Shanal, “with no specific string quartet in mind – as far as I know,” according to Duwe. “It’s like a song cycle, with the Soprano voice being featured.” Shanal tells Fine Music magazine: “The audience should expect an emotionally charged, lyrical, yet dramatic performance of the stories expressed in Fiddes and Golijov works”. She is familiar with Fiddes’ style having worked with him on a number of occasions. She says The Man in the Other Room was actually written by Fiddes as a wedding gift to his son and daughter in law in 2005. “The poem was written by his daughter Samantha who premiered it on their wedding day. From my knowledge, Ross then asked for more poems to set music too, round the main song, which then evolved into a song cycle.
“The final piece was completed beginning of 2014, around the time I connected with Ross, who then asked me if I would be interested in singing it.”

He also wrote another song for Shanal, to commemorate the Centenary of the ANZAC landings. She says singing Fiddes’ works is technically and emotionally demanding for a Soprano as they require “every aspect of your vocal facility, plus the kitchen sink thrown in”.

“This is what makes them rewarding. This particular cycle, is an outpouring of love and requires full dynamic range. It will give myself and Acacia the freedom to access our full range of emotions,” says Shanal.

Similarly, Golijov’s How Slow the Wind makes strong demands. “He is very emotive and weaves wonderful textures into the music, enriched with lyricism. You really have to listen, in order to experience Golijov,” said Shanal. How Slow The Wind is an adaptation of Emily Dickinson’s text, inspired by the sudden death of her friend Mariel Stubrin. It explores the emotions from the perspective of Mariel’s husband Dario and conveys the essence of celestial love. Golijov, inspired by the story and the text, set the music for Soprano voice and string quartet. “While the voice is talking to Mariel, the strings are the wind which are carrying her flying spirit,” said Shanal.

“I am really looking forward to the rehearsal process, to the give and take, the beautiful dialogue between these two entities, with Acacia,” she says, adding that chamber music is one of her passions.

“As a singer, I consider myself a story teller and I find that this is exactly what Acacia is brilliant at, as a chamber group. When you become part of a chamber group, there is the magic of emotional and musical exchange that is both telepathic and selfless. “When you watch Acacia, this becomes evident in the manifestation of their music making process,” says Shanal.

– Paula Wallace


This artice was from Fine Music Magazine November edition. To read the complete magazine click here

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