Malcolm Gillies

AWO’s national tour 

Australian World Orchestra
by
03 June 2021

‘Bringing the world back home’ was an early strapline of Australia’s SBS network. In those early multicultural days, it emphasised that being Australian did not restrict you from being culturally plural. It had the unfortunate implication, however, that Australia was not actually part of ‘the world’. We stood apart. Zoom forward to Covid-struck 2021, and Australia desperately wants to stand apart. Bringing that world back home has proven quite a technical difficulty, in sport, business, culture, even family reunion.

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La Clemenza di Tito 

National Opera
by
14 April 2021

For nearly two centuries considered the runt of Mozart’s operatic litter, La Clemenza di Tito has taken on new life this millennium. Written in the formalistic, to nineteenth-century ears even archaic, style of opera seria, this hastily composed two-act work of Mozart’s final year (first performed in Prague on 6 September 1791) is now received as fresh, even vital, overturning an inherited view of it as ‘a conception not fully realized’ (Julian Rushton). Its intensely political message is so pertinent to our own immoral times. Why, there is even a storming of the (Roman) Capitol towards the end of Act I, from which the instigators walk free.

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Bluebeard’s Castle 

Opera Australia
by
03 March 2021

Béla Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle was premièred amid the chaotic, final months of the Great War. Its lugubrious symphonic mood, grim libretto, and static set gained respect rather than favour from its first anxious audience. A century on, now freed from the shackles of copyright (Bartók died in 1945), the opera invites new approaches, arrangements, and settings. There is even now an annual Hungarian opera festival, where the Duke and his latest wife are presented everywhere from night bars to spa baths.

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Musicians like to play. Some play instruments, others play pieces, and a few, somehow, go deeper. They play ‘the music’, ideally sidelining the instrument or documentation, to connect with their audience person-to-person, even ear-to-ear. Chamber music is probably the most intimate of music’s genres. It is fundamentally about unmediated musical relationships, ...

Self-Portrait of Percy Grainger edited by Malcolm Gillies, David Pear, and Mark Carroll & Facing Percy Grainger edited by David Pear

by
October 2006, no. 285

To paraphrase Winston Churchill’s description of Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, Percy Grainger is a minstrel wrapped in a harlequin inside a jack-in-the-box. His personality, obsessions, and general eccentricities still cause one to gasp and stretch one’s eyes even almost half a century after his own hypnotic eyes closed forever. His music, too, remains quicksilver; indefinable in its eclecticism, yet the work of a sprite who was also a genius who, magpie-like, collected music from wildly different sources to stuff into the capacious if overcrowded nest that was his mind.

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