Concert Review: Symbiosis 1

Soprano Jane Sheldon.
Soprano Jane Sheldon.

Symbiosis I,

Jane Sheldon,soprano/ Jason Noble, clarinet/James Wannan, viola,

107 Projects,107 Redfern St, Redfern. 

Friday 18th July, 2014.


Redfern’s 107 Projects was host to an enjoyable chamber music concert, the first in a traveling series called Symbioses by New-York based Australian soprano Jane Sheldon. The series launch also featured two local guest instrumentalists, clarinetist Jason Noble and violist James Wannan performing music written by contemporary international and Australian composers.

As Jane Sheldon explained, the inspiration for the series derived from the botanical term referring to two or more organisms living in close physical association or a mutually beneficial relationship. The term also describes the often intimate relationship that exists in chamber music ensembles and performances with each instrumentalist looking, breathing, and moving together in harmony.

Works on the program explored the different combinations of voice, viola and clarinet. These combinations made for an alluring sound. Sheldon’s pure toned voice soared over the burnished timbres of the clarinet and viola.

The concert opened with Caris Mere (After the wind) for soprano and viola written by the Georgian composer Giya Kancheli in 1995. This was followed by the Australian premiere of Elliot Carter’s Poems of Louis Zukofsky for soprano and clarinet composed in 2008. The resonant voices of the clarinet and viola were explored further in Rebecca Clarke’s Prelude, Allegro and Pastorale (1941). A violist herself, her understanding of the instruments is evident in the many chamber works she has composed for viola.

The remainder of the concert program was made up of music by Australian composers. Larry Sitsky’s Seven Zen Songs for soprano and viola in 2005, is a collection of short songs based on the poetry of ancient Chinese and Japanese poets as well as English Romantic poet Christina Rossetti, the Sufi mystic Rumi and more contemporary haiku artists. Nicholas Vines’ Parnell’s Gloom for viola and clarinet, written in 2010, features again the mellifluous timbres of two instruments. At times, the additional effect of a growling voice emitted by the violist gave depth and sonority to the sound.

The last two compositions were world premieres by Jack Symonds – Die Engel (The Angel) for soprano and viola d’amore based on the writing of German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. The mystical poem was lifted by the seven stringed viola d’amore with its greater facility for arpeggios and resonating strings. All three instrumentalists came together for the final work by Jack Symonds. Liebeslied also a poem by Rilke was intensely beautiful, and again each of the three voices – individual in timbre and tone – were expertly combined as a whole.

The venue was well suited to small chamber groups. Symbiosis 1 was a marvellous experience, fulfilling the concept of a mutually beneficial relationship amongst three experienced musicians taking pleasure in performing beautiful chamber-music in the inventive configuration of soprano, clarinet and viola.

Alison Evans for SoundsLikeSydney©

Alison Evans is a freelance bassoon player, teacher and chamber music performer with the Sirius Chamber Ensemble. She holds post-graduate degrees in music performance and is currently completing her doctorate at the University of Sydney. 

SoundsLikeSydney accepts no fee for reviews.



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