Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the first steps in putting on a concert. Do you look for your repertoire, or choose a theme, or book a venue, or find the players first? There are so many moving parts it can be hard to know where to begin.
For us, this concert began with a venue. The Kew Court House runs a great series for early career musicians and ensembles called “Future Classic”, which has previously featured Julia Hastings, Alex Raineri, and anon. This series is particularly special because the artists are given the opportunity to curate their own program. The musicians in our ensemble are all incredibly passionate about creative programming, so being handed a blank slate was both a thrilling and slightly daunting prospect. How do you settle on an idea?
In a brainstorming session for the ensemble, we each brought ideas for repertoire and potential themes to the table. We eventually became excited about the idea of a concert exploring themes related to the winter solstice, which falls a week after our concert. The solstice is symbolic of death and new life, and our program reflects these themes. Much of the repertoire is reflective, evoking the stillness of long winter nights.
After settling on a program we adored, we encountered a reality check when trouble arose in attempting to seek an extremely specific guest musician. One of the programmed works involved an exceedingly delicate and demanding coloratura soprano part, and we were unable to find someone who was available for our rehearsal period. Knowing when to press on or return to the drawing board can be a difficult decision. We chose to start afresh, and secured the opportunity to give the Australian premiere of a work by one of the ensemble’s favourite composers. We’d discussed this piece in our initial repertoire plans, but thought it was still under exclusivity. After emailing the composer, we were thrilled to find out it was available. It always pays to ask!
Next up was a site visit to the Court House. Having the chance to be in the space helped us to imagine how this concert might look and sound, and start refining our ideas about presentation. We knew that the space was relatively small, so it was great to check that we could fit our typically large number of percussion instruments on the stage! We also had a chance to meet with the venue manager, and talk about visual and logistical elements like lighting and the audience’s seating layout. It’s great to have the luxury of time in this scenario, meaning we can plan ahead and think about using the space creatively.
So what’s next? We’re continuing to juggle the admin and starting to learn the dots on the page. A month out from this concert, publicity is a key concern and we’ve been working on a media release and marketing materials.
At the same time we’re making rehearsal schedules, scanning scores, and even making instruments! We’ll be revealing our program shortly, and by the next time you hear from us we’ll have just begun our rehearsals. Til then, back to the practice room!
- Jacob Abela & Kaylie Melville, Rubiks Collective