We Carry the Song

Chamber Music Adelaide in partnership with the City of Adelaide presented two nights of music which features local musicians, locals composers and an interesting collaboration between the music of years gone by and the work of new composers performed by local musicians.

The second of these concerts We Carry the Song featured composers Jodie O’Reagan and Nathan May with Julian Ferraretto, performed in the Adelaide Town Hall. We are an old nation and also a nation built up by people and cultures coming from many lands. Both composers acknowledged this in their compositions. 

Jodie O’Reagan is of Irish heritage, a woman who grew up surrounded by music. For her, singers tell stories in song, and a song has to be ‘singable’ and memorable. This was evident  in Cana Cludmore which is a mini opera based on a libretto taken from an ancient manuscript which can be found in Cork, Ireland.  It is also part of a larger work which she is working on.

The story tells of how the harp was created in ancient Ireland at the time of the bards, and is told by Cana Cludhmor ‘of great fame’ about the first harp created  by her husband from whale bones and sinews fashioned around a tree branch. 

He threaded the sinews, like warps

on this loom to make a harp

For me to carry the whale song

with me

 Desiree Frahn was a wonderful  singer and story teller, engaging the audience, exhibiting emotion from defiance to indignation and triumph throughout the song. The accompaniment played by Penelope Cashman became part of the story, ‘voicing’ various characters and events. While she played with great skill she was also called upon to make unusual sounds using the piano strings and a glockenspiel. Music it was, which evoked both the art of story telling in which the Irish excel, as well as their intrinsic love of melody.

As though to reinforce this the performance began with  Desiree, and Penelope presenting some of the old favourite Irish songs from Moore’s Irish Melodies. These were set to music by Benjamin Britten, and coup[ed with Desiree’s voice, they were more akin to art songs than Irish melodies. The much maligned Last Rose of Summer was full of pathos and some glorious high notes.

The second part of the concert, Wangkarda, by Julian Ferraretto and Nathan May was a world premiere. It featured Nathan May,  Arabana,Yawuru and Marridjbin man, originally from Darwin, now living and studying in Adelaide, together with the Adelaide Baroque string quartet. 

In these songs Nathan explored his connection to country, his transition from childhood to manhood, songs important to his culture, and journeys he has taken.

The Adelaide Baroque string quartet, playing music composed by Juan Ferraretto  in collaboration with Nathan, combined all this in the performance, and the changing rhythms and joyous melodies brought the idea of the outback country to life, as well as the long train journeys. Julian and Nathan have collaborated in other works and it is a happy combination.

The Adelaide Baroque string quartet consisting of Holly Piccoli, Alison Rayner, violin, Heidi von Bernewitz, viola and Thomas Marlin, cello had begun this part of the program with Bach and Vivaldi,  perhaps linking the past neatly with music of today.

The previous evening had featured music by Anne Cawrse and Glyn Lehmann. Hopefully the CMA can continue to sponsor and present brand new chamber works for Australian composers , written especially for Australian musicians.

Adelaide Town Hall 10 and 11 May 2024

Help Support 5mbs

We have a fantastic team of members and volunteers at 5mbs, with many opportunities for more. Check out the various ways you can help support the passionate team at 5mbs

Subscribe for updates

Sign up to receive program guides, articles, and event updates