Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Canberra International Music Festival
Mt. Stromlo, May 5

Reviewed by Len Power

I’m sure the idea to have this concert moving between sites on Mt. Stromlo seemed a good idea on paper, but not taking into account the weather and the terrain for the mostly elderly people attending was a serious miscalculation.

After first crowding into the Visitors Centre, we were then divided into two groups and escorted out of there to the various concert sites.  On top of sculpture platform ‘Walking on the Moon’, percussionist, Bree van Reyk, played Kate Moore’s ‘Rain’ on a solo snare drum.  While it was good to be able to stand very close to the artist while she was playing, the cold and gusty wind made it difficult to hear the quiet hand passages of the work.  Much more effective was her work with sticks on the drum, revealing an interesting work by turns dramatic and introspective.

Our group then straggled uphill to the Oddie Telescope ruin to hear Kate Moore’s ‘Dolorosa’ for cello, electric guitar, vibraphone and live electronics.  I assume, given the title of the work, that we were supposed to be listening to it as we made our way up the hill.  Unfortunately the wind was so strong, I wasn’t aware until we arrived that they were already playing.  Being still reasonably nimble, I was one of the early ones to arrive but I gained little impression of the work as it finished a few minutes after I got there.  And people were still arriving!  Then it was down the hill again and over to the ruins of the Directors Residence.

Inside the residence, the musicians, who were again already playing when we arrived, were stationed in various rooms.  Kate Moore’s ‘To That Which Is Endless’ was a nicely sombre piece which was marred by the constant shuffling feet of the audience milling around from room to room.  Once everyone arrived, the musicians then moved outside for the finale where it was harder to hear the music because of the wind.

From there to the Yale-Columbia Telescope ruined shell where the highlight of the concert was performed – Kate Moore’s Sliabh Beagh (Little Mountain).  Played and sung extremely well by Lisa Moore (no relation), this Irish-influenced work was passionate and emotional and very satisfying.

Back in the Visitors Centre, we were treated to an interesting and amusing talk about the future of our galaxy by Professor Brian Schmidt, the Director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the ANU.  And it was especially nice to be out of the wind.

Originally published in Canberra City News digital edition 5 May 2015