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Early music, contemporary performance


The old Melbourne International Festival of Organ and Harpsichord changed its name a few years ago to Melbourne Autumn Music Festival and took on young virtuoso recorder player Genevieve Lacey as Artistic Director. Not surprisingly, contemporary performance works and installations have begun to creep into the program, along with some radical interpretations of early music repertoire.

Among the highlights of this year’s festival (May 2-11) will be performances by Australians Christopher Field, Paul Wright, Steve (Stelios) Adams, Marshall Maguire various Elision soloists and Genevieve Lacey herself. Scandinavian pipe and tabor duo ESK are among the international guests. There’s also a new series of lunchtime concerts by young artists playing a combination of recent and early music in the new BMW Edge auditorium in Federation Square.

One of the featured works sure to grab RealTime readers demonstrates MAMF’s new focus. Aelfgyva is a performance work for 2 actors and 3 musicians, a contemporary exploration of medieval material through the elements of text sound and music created with hurdy gurdy, harp and voice. Written and directed by Jane Woollard, Aelfgyva is the second part of a larger work, NEEDLESWORLD, exploring the Norman invasion of England.

With music/soundscape by Stevie Wishart and performed by Margaret Mills, Colin James, singer Carolyn Connors and harpist Natalia Mann, Aelfgyva is a meditative pilgrimage that follows the journey of an 11th century woman—one of 3 depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry. Amanda Johson’s design plays with scale, incorporating oversized spools, needles and embroidery. The work uses the language and imagery of embroidery as well as a vocabulary of gestures constructed from the tapestry to explore “the way a cultural takeover was sewn into history.”

Melbourne Autumn Music Festival, May 2-11,

RealTime issue #54 April-May 2003 pg. 40

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