Celebr-eighteen! Liza Lim Portrait Concert celebrates a living legend of new Australian classical music
Liza Lim is an extremely accomplished Australian composer, having been performed and commissioned by the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles. However, while she has been fêted internationally, she has yet to enjoy the elevated Australian profile that her accomplishments demand.
In presenting the Lim Portrait Concert, Arcko Symphonic Ensemble—together with students and staff of the University of Melbourne (Lim’s alma mater)—will firmly place the spotlight on Lim’s music, delivering a vibrant musical experience which promises to ignite audiences’ passion for Australian new classical music.
Arcko, now celebrating its 10th anniversary as an ensemble, draws its musicians from a pool of talent in Victoria’s leading orchestras, ensembles and institutions. Based on a core of string, wind, brass and percussion players, the ensemble has been described as ‘a gift to local composers’ and as presenting ‘new music without dumbing down’. The exceptionally high calibre of Arcko concerts has led to critical acclaim, nominations in music awards, and the ensemble is regularly recorded both for broadcast and podcasts.
Head of Studio for New Music and Convenor of Percussion at the University of Melbourne, Peter Neville, says: “This concert is a fantastic opportunity for students, Arcko musicians and the audience to engage with Lim’s music, all in her presence.
“Her music is well deserving of increased local exposure. Her accomplishments include long-term collaborations with famed international ensembles and solo musicians, and her music has been widely published and released on CD. She’s written four operas, which have been produced around the world, and received commissions and performances from many of the world’s most renowned orchestras and festivals.”
Arcko exists to perform Australian classical music of the 20th and 21st Centuries, which almost no other ensemble does. It’s dedicated to larger scale, overwhelmingly Australian repertoire, with at its heart the notion that Australians should be the primary presenters and consumers of their own cultural goods. To counter Australia’s lacklustre track record of acknowledging the achievements of many of its classical music artists, Arcko presents rarely heard works for large ensembles and orchestras, in some cases works which have not been performed since their premiere, or which have been presented in a tokenistic way. Through breathing new life into forgotten masterpieces as well as commissioning new works, Arcko connects Australia’s heritage composers with the brilliant new composers of today.
Arcko Symphonic Ensemble founder and conductor, Timothy Phillips, says: “We work against the cult of the premiere, where works are played once and then forgotten. Unlike with books, films and paintings, engaging with new Australian music is impossible if works are not performed. And with the demise of music radio shows in recent times, it’s even harder to have a meaningful encounter with Australian new music. But we are here to dispel the myth that there is no audience for new music. “Revisiting, rehearing and re-performing new music is the key ingredient in allowing players and composers the chance to refine their craft and skills, increase their depth of understanding of newer works and techniques, and give audiences the chance to become familiar with the language of new music and acquire an appreciation and taste, opening up new worlds of music enjoyment.”
Program highlights:Winding Bodies (3 knots), 2014 - for solo Hardanger fiddle and ensemble, Australian premiere, featuring Zachary Johnston as soloist
Veil (1999) for seven musicians
The Alchemical Wedding (1996) - originally commissioned by the Melbourne Festival for Ensemble Modern and ELISION; performed in Europe but this concert brings the work back to Melbourne for the first time since the premiere
Philtre (1997) - one of Lim's most played violin solos but here performed in a rare version for Hardanger Fiddle
Amulet (1992) - one of Lim's earliest solo pieces for viola which has been recorded and championed by the soloist Phoebe Green
Arcko Symphonic Ensemble is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. This concert is a co-production with the New Music Studio, Melbourne Conservatorium Of Music, University Of Melbourne.