International musicians to spread the UKARIA magic

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The UKARIA 24 2023 program – organized by Power and featuring Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang, Swedish cellist Torleif Thedéen and Italian pianist Alessio Bax, as well as Australian artists such as cellist Sharon Grigoryan – is the latest iteration of a series which began in 2016 when Ngeringa Arts (as the center was originally called) invited recorder virtuoso Geneviève Lacey to organize a series of performances over two days.

“It was really our first big foray into new territory and this idea of ​​inviting an artist to have complete creative freedom in choosing who they wanted to invite to collaborate and what they wanted to play and how that program would be formed. “, said Alison, CEO of UKARIA. Beare tells Review.

“Geneviève has brought together an incredible group of artists and these relationships have lasted. So, for example, one of the performers was Umberto Clerici, who was principal cellist of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the time… he’s probably one of our closest collaborators now. He was the [UKARIA 24] curator last year and has just been appointed conductor of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

“These relationships that have been forged through those these curators have brought to us have played a huge role in the creative and artistic development of UKARIA.”

Serendipity led to the title of the flagship series when the designer of the 2016 brochure used the number 24 as a placeholder for text. Ultimately, Beare explains, Lacey’s concept for his nature-inspired series was to trace the changing qualities of light and mood over 24 hours – hence the name Ngeringa 24 was a perfect fit. When the cultural center was renamed UKARIA, the title became UKARIA 24, encapsulating the idea of ​​a condensed musical experience over a defined period of time.

Musicians Kristian Winther, Andrew Haveron, Genevieve Lacey, Tobias Breider and Umberto Clerici at UKARIA 24 last year.

Beare says Lawrence Power, a regular guest artist with orchestras around the world and founder of the West Wycombe Chamber Music Festival in the UK, was asked to organize the 2020 UKARIA 24, but he was unable to make it to Australia because of the pandemic. In 2021, as travel restrictions continued, the cultural center presented a program organized by Clerici and featuring all Australian artists, many of whom had to quarantine for two weeks before performing.

When Power finally presents its UKARIA 24 program next weekend (October 28-30), it will have three of its closest fellow musicians with it in Frang, Thedéen and Bax.

“As a musician, I am fascinated by the way the old and the new can co-exist,” he says in the programme’s introduction, adding that UKARIA 24 concerts will take people on a journey “for a few from the greatest of musical innovators, such as Bieber and Westhoff, to the present day with contemporary voices such as Luciano Berio, Olli Mustonen and Garth Knox”.

Friday night concert Once upon a timewill also present, on film, a pre-recorded performance with composer and pianist Thomas Adès of a work he wrote for Power and co-commissioned by UKARIA.

Rather than returning home immediately after the UKARIA 24 final next Sunday, Power and his international colleagues will continue to travel to perform a concert presented by UKARIA at Pier 2/3 in Sydney. It marks the start of a new initiative, UKARIA on Tour, which seeks to spread some of the magic that comes from inviting foreign artists into the space to create, innovate and perform.

“With the environmental challenges that we face, a lot of artists are very aware of the impact when they travel…so it’s this idea that if they come to Australia to spend a week doing this program, let’s share Do it with as many people as possible,” Beare says.

“It’s the first time we’ve done it. We have a close relationship with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and now their new venue, Pier 2/3, so we pitched them the idea of ​​Lawrence and the team doing a program of [UKARIA 24] weekend at Pier 2/3 and they absolutely loved the idea.”

UKARIA on Tour is supported by the philanthropic foundation of UKARIA founder Ulrike Klein, who this week received the Arts Visionary Award in Creative Partnerships Australia Awards 2022.

The ‘on tour’ program will be expanded next year, when eight members of the German Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig travel to Pier 2/3 and the Melbourne Recital Center to perform concerts after arriving in Adelaide at the end of July for a weekend of performances at UKARIA with members of the Australian National Academy of Music.

“The idea is that then we start to build on that, because my approach to programming has always been to be collaborative and that’s always been an absolute hallmark of our success in terms of the scope of the program that we we’ve been able to offer at UKARIA,” Beare says. “It’s how we connect and work with other organizations…and I think it’s so important in our times that we work together.”

UKARIA is also launching its 2023 early release program this week, with tickets on sale from October 21.

UKARIA 24 will take place at the UKARIA Cultural Center from October 28 to 30.

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