A Timeless Celebration of Love and Life

PAGE 16 Ian Munro -«Keith Saunders
Ian Munro, pianist and composer

The title of the upcoming concert, Lullabies and Dances was formed in reference to the program of works, including Australian pianist and composer Ian Munro’s work Piano Trio no. 2 ‘Book of Lullabies’. Ahead of the concert, I had the opportunity to speak with him to discuss his work, his compositional process, inspirations and what he hopes the audience will receive from listening to the work. It was evident he was extremely excited to perform his work with his colleagues at the Australia Ensemble UNSW, and also share it with the public.

Speaking with Ian, he explained that his compositional process of Piano Trio no. 2 ‘Book of Lullabies’ began from an effort to overcome a general writer’s block. After visiting a friend who had just given birth to her son, he began to arrange lullabies from all over the world, an enjoyable experience that eventually grew into a complete set of works. “I would like the audience to enjoy thought provoking, honest music that involves beautiful story-telling and emotional content. Each folktune is written in the context of a folktale or message that has been circulated in their respective cultures for thousands of years, and I hope whilst listening to these pieces, the audience can really ponder about its message, which is crucial to what folktunes are”.

Musically, the folktunes are easy to recognise. The melody is shared across all three instruments, and whilst there is a little bit of development and “toying” with the melody, they are essentially as it is. An example of storytelling can also be found in the Finnish folktune Kun mun kultani tulisi, based on a folktale about a maiden waiting for her lover to return from battle and listening for his footsteps. These footsteps are evident in the piano passage and the anxious atmosphere are created by the instruments through different harmonic structures and treatment of the melody. “Many great composers such as Bartok and Stravinsky have gained their inspiration from folktunes, producing ingenious, complex compositions. I believe these types of pieces are masterpieces and are very clever, but I also believe in the power of simplicity. The focus on melodies and harmonies, and the conservation of these aspects coupled with story-telling have the power to genuinely move people, which is what I hope is the audience response.”

This work is a celebration of our many cultures, human life, and the expression of music. It’s a true display of how people can connect through music and its multi-faceted purpose to teach, emote and essentially helps us understand the beauty of everything in this world.