Ensemble Offspring performed a powerful program of works by women composers at Subiaco Arts Centre on a quiet Tuesday night – a perfect way to spend the evening.
Led by the all-amazing percussionist Claire Edwardes, the concert kept its audience entertained from beginning to end. Throughout the concert, every instrument could clearly be heard and there couldn’t have been a more perfect balance between vibraphone, piano, flute, and clarinet to warm your ears. It is also not often you get to see a bass flute being played, so it was interesting seeing flautist Lamorna Nightingale switch between three different types of flutes, hearing the different timbre in all of them.
The first piece, Blackbird Song (World Premiere 2018) by Kate Moore, provided a calm setting to the concert. As the vibraphone sang its course with the wind instruments supporting it, audience members closed their eyes to absorb the relaxing energy that the performers provided. This very combination of instruments really makes it feel like something is hugging you from the inside, like drinking a satisfying hot chocolate.
The audience was then greeted by yet another beautiful, serene piece, Orizzonte (Australian Premiere 2004) by Missy Mazzoli, performed with piano and electronics. The sine tones ringing above the gentle piano had an outstanding effect, not to mention that it was hard to take your eyes off the pianist, Zubin Kanga, with his ability to capture you in his playing. Soft, yet intriguing.
All of the ensemble met again to perform Love in Solitude (2017) by Andrea Keller. In contrast to the previous pieces, the backing track in this one was particularly busy. The clings and clangs of the odd sounds in the backing track intertwined beautifully with what the performers were doing on stage. As the related poem was read out, the connection between the words and sounds had a very comfortable puzzle fit. It was very satisfying to the ears, and the way Keller put the music to the meaning of the poem is truly stunning.
Claire Edwardes proceeded to perform Spel (2017) by Kate Moore, for solo vibraphone. The way Edwardes moved with ease to play this piece made it feel very calm and easy. Though there is a repetitive nature to the music of Kate Moore’s pieces on this programme, Edwardes managed to keep the audience engaged with her awesome, flawless playing, something that is very hard for any performer to achieve.
The night ended with a very exciting piece, Vivre sa Vie (2017) by Felicity Wilcox, for the whole ensemble. There was a film that was projected on the screen while the ensemble played away. It was funny to see that the words on the subtitles were being imitated by the flutes and clarinets, while the vibraphone and piano mainly played little background tunes. The ensemble was very tight, considering only half of them had what I can only assume is a click track beeping in their ears. The music was perfectly timed to the film, and it was fun to keep an eye on the film, and the other on the ensemble.
Something that Claire Edwardes asked in the middle of the concert really got the audience thinking. “Is there such a thing as feminine-sounding music?” All the pieces I heard this night are powerful, and nothing short of amazing. It is nice to see a programme full of women composers, something we are still lacking of nowadays.