Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lively discussion in final critics’ “In conversation…”

The final two guests in the Canberra Critics’ Circle’s 2013 “In conversation…” series at the Canberra Museum and Gallery were pianist Elaine Loebenstein and art curator Barbara McConchie.

This winds up a cycle of six sessions in which the critics met informally face-to-face with arts practitioners in dance, musical theatre, technical theatre, film, music and visual arts to learn more about their approaches to their work and to raise issues beyond that.

Pianist Elaine Loebenstein
The session with Elaine Loebenstein on August 12 took place as a result of a special request from the music critics to talk about improvisation.

Irish-born Elaine is a classically-trained collaborative pianist who moved to Canberra in October 2011. With performances behind her in venues such as the National Concert Hall Dublin, St. Martin in the Fields London, Schloss Schönbrunn Vienna, Teatro Della Maestranza Seville and New York University, she has a particular interest in live classical improvisation for silent film.

She has recorded improvised soundtracks for various projects including a DVD containing historical footage of Vienna produced by the Austrian Filmmuseum, and an experimental work by Austrian filmmaker Georg Wasner.

Recent improvisational performances include her two-week film and music project IMPROVisual in the Western Foyer of Sydney Opera House, the Canberra Centenary Launch at the Playhouse, the Rocks Bizarre Festival in Sydney and a return to the Pordenone Festival in Italy.

The lively discussion ranged from classical to jazz as Elaine put forward the view that “set” performances of music are only fairly recent in the history of music,  enhanced by the phenomenon of recorded music.

The session with Barbara McConchie on August 27 began with a personal introduction by Barbara, who is now manager at the ANU School of Art, but has previously been executive director of Craft ACT, art officer at the Australian War Memorial, gallery manager at Beaver Galleries and print manager at Studio One National Print Workshop.

Barbara McConchie
The daughter of a well-known Canberra artist, Barbara outlined some of her more unconventional approaches to getting art into the real world, including the project Memories in Place, installations in three huts in the Namadgi National Park and Still Lives, an exhibition and film program looking at the ‘object’ in film.

As this final session drew to a close, a free-for-all discussion ensued on income for visual artists, public art and the necessity of imagination in our lives.

And everybody had an opinion on the Skywhale.

The Canberra Critics’ Circle’s “In conversation…” series will resume in Winter, 2014. The circle gratefully acknowledges the hospitality and support of Shane Breynard, Michael Bailey and the Canberra Museum and Gallery in making this series possible.

On November 2 this year, the circle will stage a symposium at the CMAG on the late, often scandalous Canberra group Splinters Theatre of Spectacle, to coincide with an exhibition on the subject.

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