Season 2018

From the Artistic Chair | Paul Stanhope


There is something precious about the intimacy of chamber music that allows an exploration of boundless emotional depths, from despair through to celebratory tones of ebullience and joy. The 2018 Australia Ensemble Subscription Series embraces these emotions via great chamber music from some of Australia’s most experienced and in-demand musicians.

The season begins with music from dark places struggling to find the light. In ‘Out of the Depths’, Shostakovich’s searing 8th String Quartet sits alongside Beethoven, Brett Dean and a work from Czech composer, Erwin Schulhoff – a Jewish composer who did not survive the forces of tyranny that Shostakovich so railed against.

A soothing balm to the white heat of the first program, we move to the cool perfection, wit and elegance of ‘French Connections’, exploring a diverse set of works from the brilliance of Boulez through to Debussy, Françaix and ending with the sumptuous Romanticism of Gabriel Fauré.

The story of Robert and Clara Schumann is one of great Romance and sorrow, and our tribute to both composers pairs the brilliance of Clara Schumann’s G minor Piano Trio with Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet. Two complementary works pay further tribute, by Hungarian György Kurtag and a newly commissioned work by Australian composer Natalie Williams.

Although Brahms was all too aware of the shadow of Beethoven, he also paid great homage to Mozart in his sumptuous Clarinet Quintet. Fittingly, works in our August program are connected to the idea of lineage, including the father of the wind quintet, Anton Reicha, and Australian composer Matthew Hindson who pays tribute to his teacher Peter Sculthorpe.

Whether fact or fiction, the image of Schubert strumming lieder accompaniments on his guitar persists in the public imagination. This image is the basis for a program that contrasts bright and energetic Australian chamber music for guitar with the warm glow of nineteenth century masterpieces including Schubert’s glorious late Piano Trio in E flat.

Although our year emerges from dark places, it concludes with the inspiration and energy of Mother Nature who has inspired composers spanning centuries and continents. Maria Grenfell’s ‘Ten Suns Ablaze’ sets in motion a musical exploration of natural forces from Beethoven’s loved ‘Scene by the brook’ in a string sextet arrangement, through to contemporary landscapes of Peteris Vasks and Nigel Westlake, and Copland’s iconic American ballet suite, ‘Appalachian Spring’.

I look forward to sharing these delights with you throughout 2018. 

Paul Stanhope


Concert dates for the 2018 subscription series of the Australia Ensemble @UNSW:

Saturday March 17, 2018, 8pm | Out of the depths

Saturday April 14, 2018, 8pm | French Connections

Saturday May 12, 2018, 8pm | Robert and Clara

Saturday August 11 , 2018, 8pm |  Brahms and Mozart

Saturday September 15, 2018, 8pm | Schubert and the guitar

Saturday October 13, 2018, 8pm | Forces of nature


All concerts will be held in the Sir John Clancy Auditorium UNSW