International musicians to spread the UKARIA magic

British violist and curator Lawrence Power will be joined by three other top international classical musicians as he leads audiences on a three-day musical journey at UKARIA Cultural Centre’s flagship annual event, which also heralds the start of a new touring initiative by the Adelaide Hills venue.

Oct 20, 2022, updated Oct 26, 2022
British musician  Lawrence Power has curated this year's UKARIA 24 program and will also perform at a concert in Sydney presented by UKARIA on Tour.

British musician Lawrence Power has curated this year's UKARIA 24 program and will also perform at a concert in Sydney presented by UKARIA on Tour.

The 2023 UKARIA 24 program ­– curated 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 in a series that began in 2016 when Ngeringa Arts (as the centre was originally named) invited recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey to curate 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 who they wanted to invite to collaborate with and what they wanted to play and how that program would be formed,” UKARIA CEO Alison Beare tells InReview.

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

“Those relationships that have been forged through who those curators have brought to us have played an enormous part 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. As it turned out, Beare explains, Lacey’s concept for her 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 centre was renamed UKARIA, the title became UKARIA 24, encapsulating the idea of a condensed music experience over a defined time period.

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

Beare says Lawrence Power, a regular guest performer with orchestras around the world and founder of the UK’s West Wycombe Chamber Music Festival, was invited to curate the 2020 UKARIA 24, but he was unable to travel to Australia because of the pandemic. In 2021, as travel restrictions continued, the cultural centre presented a program curated by Clerici and featuring all Australian artists, many of whom had to quarantine for two weeks before performing.

When Power does finally present his UKARIA 24 program from October 28-30, he will have with him three of his closest musical colleagues in Frang, Thedéen and Bax.

“As a musician, I am fascinated by the way in which old and new can co-exist,” he says in the program introduction, adding that the UKARIA 24 concerts will take people on a journey “from some of the greatest 17th-century musical innovators, such as Bieber and Westhoff, through to the current day with contemporary voices such as Luciano Berio, Olli Mustonen and Garth Knox”.

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The Friday evening concert, Once Upon a Time, will also feature, on film, a pre-recorded performance with composer and pianist Thomas Adès of a work he wrote for Power that was co-commissioned by UKARIA.

Rather than heading home immediately after the UKARIA 24 finale next Sunday, Power and his international colleagues will travel onwards to perform a concert being 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 artists from overseas into the space to create, innovate and perform.

“With the environmental challenges that we’re facing, a lot of artists are very conscious of the impact when they travel… so it’s this idea that if they’re coming to Australia to spend a week making that program, let’s share it with as many people as we can,” Beare says.

“This is 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 this idea to them that Lawrence and the crew would go and do one program from the [UKARIA 24] weekend at Pier 2/3 and they absolutely loved that idea.”

UKARIA on Tour is supported through the philanthropic foundation of UKARIA founder Ulrike Klein, who was this week awarded the Arts Visionary Award in Creative Partnerships Australia’s 2022 awards.

The ‘on tour’ program will be expanded next year, when eight members of Germany’s Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra will travel to Pier 2/3 and the Melbourne Recital Centre to present concerts after coming to 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 begin to build on that, because my approach with programming has always been to be collaborative and that’s always been an absolute hallmark of our success in terms of the breadth of the program that we’ve been able to offer at UKARIA,” Beare says. “It’s the way that we connect and work with other organisations… and I think it’s so important, in our time, that we do work together.”

UKARIA 24 will take place at UKARIA Cultural Centre from October 28-30. UKARIA has also just launched its 2023 early-release program, which includes concerts by artists such as Konstantin Shamray, Jordi Savall, and the Schumann Quartet.

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