Classical musicians in Western Australia have been making the most of their time in isolation, sharing their talent and creativity to the world via the internet and social media. Here we show you what some of WA’s best are up to, and how you can witness it for yourself.
Freeze Frame Opera
Perth opera group Freeze Frame Opera have been taking opera to the socially distanced streets in a unique way, and serenading locals from the back of a truck. They have been taking bookings for street and window serenades throughout the entire isolation period to help support the mental wellbeing of the Perth community through song and music. It also helps create a source of income for local artists who would otherwise be unable to perform. Bookings for their street serenades can be made through their website.
At the forefront of the WA arts scene, the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) has found ways to engage both students and audiences during isolation. Defying Gravity, WAAPA’s resident percussion ensemble, live-streamed a socially distanced performance on campus, which has now been seen by over 26,000 people. The concert consisted of original compositions from members of the ensemble and the video is still available on WAAPA’s Facebook page.
The classical music department of WAAPA have hinted there are more performances like this in the works, including various instrumental ensembles and the entire classical department, showcasing local performers and compositions.
Perth Symphony Orchestra
Perth Symphony Orchestra (PSO) have been making the most of this time to reach out to their audience and build excitement for rescheduled concerts happening later in the year. STARDUST: The Music of David Bowie has been rescheduled to Thursday 17 December, and in the meantime, PSO has let the public vote for their top ten David Bowie songs, with the intention of playing the winning picks at the concert.
During the voting process, the orchestra was also able to raise over $2000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the orchestra itself. The PSO team have also been curating thematic Spotify playlists, most recently Music for… Heroes, in conjunction with the upcoming STARDUST performance. All their playlists can be accessed via PSO’s social media or directly through their Spotify.
Taking quick steps, WASO (West Australian Symphony Orchestra) evolved into WASDO, the ‘West Australian Social Distancing Orchestra’. They’ve been posting video recordings of their at-home performances on their Facebook page (link), including performances of Ravel’s Bolero and an excerpt from J.S. Bach’s Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme arranged for brass. Most recently, they were a part of the nation-wide ANZAC day concert ‘Music from the Home Front’ and performed with Perth band Birds of Tokyo. This performance can also be viewed on WASO’s Facebook page and Birds of Tokyo’s YouTube page.
In addition to new performances by WASDO, the team have been posting video recordings of previous concerts from years past on their Facebook page. The latest concert they have published is from the 2015 Brahms festival, featuring Garrick Ohlsson (Piano) and Asher Fisch (Conductor) in Brahms’ first piano concerto and his third symphony. Also of note is 2017’s Wagner’s World concert, where Fisch takes the audience through Wagner’s music and those he inspired in a highly enjoyable and informative performance, featuring Bass-Baritone Shane Lowrencev.
Musica Viva Australia
Musica Viva Australia is currently partnered with the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, which functions as a regular concert series, but streamed online. Each concert is broadcast only once, at a set time, and concert-goers can purchase ‘seats,’ with the full value of each ticket going directly to the performers themselves.
Upcoming in the performance schedule is a series of ‘satellite nights,’ which will all be broadcast from Perth and performed by some of Perth’s outstanding musicians. Of particular note are the two concerts being broadcast on the 13th of May, featuring Ashley Smith (Clarinet) and Gladys Chua (Piano) at 5pm AWST, and Paul O’Neill (Tenor), Naomi Johns (Soprano) and Tommaso Pollio (Piano) later at 6:30pm AWST. Both concerts will have an operatic focus, and tickets are available online at the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall Website.
UWA Conservatorium of Music
The UWA Conservatorium of Music have been kept busy, presenting performances and seminars as much as it can within current restrictions. This includes sharing performance footage of staff and students, as well as that of past lectures, including 2017’s Callaway Lecture in conjunction with West Australian Opera (WAO) and their distinguished artist lecture series. Presented by Dr Richard Mills, current artistic director of Victorian Opera and the longest serving artistic director of WAO, it can be found on the Conservatorium’s YouTube channel.
The UWA team have also been going ahead with their free Research Seminar Series, presented as part of the Callaway Centre on Tuesdays at 5pm via Zoom. During these sessions, those involved with musicological study in WA present the results and process of their research, as well as occasional guest speakers. The weekly abstracts and details of attendance can be found via the Conservatorium’s website.