Cygnus Arioso Summer Classics at Perth Concert Hall presents Skipworth, Gershwin, Strauss and Schubert

David CusworthThe West Australian
Akiko Miyazawa leads Cygnus Arioso back on stage at Perth Concert Hall on January 30, returning to the scene of last year's Bach and Bartok concert under COVID restrictions.
Camera IconAkiko Miyazawa leads Cygnus Arioso back on stage at Perth Concert Hall on January 30, returning to the scene of last year's Bach and Bartok concert under COVID restrictions. Credit: John Broadhead

Vibrant string ensemble Cygnus Arioso returns to the Perth Concert Hall with a Summer Classics series on January 30, drawing on its strength and development during the pandemic.

Led by husband-and-wife team composer Lachlan Skipworth and WA Symphony Orchestra violinist Akiko Miyazawa, the ensemble combines up-and-coming musicians with some of Perth’s best-known orchestral virtuosos.

A highlight for brass aficionados is Skipworth’s Trumpet Concerto, Altiora Peto, played again by WASO principal Brent Grapes after its world premiere last year in the Grove Classics series.

The title translates as “Seek the heights”, a challenge for any aspiring musician and the school motto of philanthropist Tony Lennon, who commissioned the piece for his 80th birthday to be “optimistic, uplifting, joyful”.

Brent Grapes.
Camera IconBrent Grapes. Credit: Supplied

A bright exploration of tone and technique, it follows classical composition conventions with a fresh and lively edge.

Cygnus Arioso String Orchestra will accompany the concerto, and also play Gershwin’s Lullaby for Strings and Strauss’s Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings, in the first program at 2pm.

In the second session at 4pm, Miyazawa leads the experienced musicians in Schubert’s Octet in F Major.

“Perth Summer Classics really exhibits the breadth of what Cygnus Arioso is trying to achieve,” Skipworth says.

“In the first concert the focus is youth, and Akiko’s work to establish a string orchestra culture here in Perth comes to the fore. She invests a lot of time into preparing the individual players before the rehearsals even start, and I can tell how much they value the experience when I see the enthusiasm with which they come back to each new project.

“In the second concert we aim high, presenting Schubert’s masterful Octet with a set of Perth’s finest players. Really these are the people we think could be on any world stage but happen to call Perth home.”

Akiko Miyazawa.
Camera IconAkiko Miyazawa. Credit: Nik Babic

Among the luminaries joining Cygnus Arioso for the series are Kate Sullivan (violin), Kathy Potter (viola), Eve Silver (cello), John Keene (bass), Ashley Smith (clarinet), Adam Mikulicz (bassoon), Grapes and Julia Brooke (horn).

Last summer’s Chamber Music Festival was interrupted by the same lockdown that disrupted plans for the Perth Festival, and had to be resumed weeks later.

But Skipworth remains hopeful.

“It is a very strange time to be presenting anything, to be honest. We feel like there’s a huge cloud of uncertainty hanging over the concerts, perhaps as much as any time for us in WA,” he says.

“But if things stabilise in the coming weeks our concert might work out as one final celebration of the freedoms we’ve enjoyed these past two years before we rejoin the world at large. We’d love to see a sizeable crowd to mark the occasion.”

Tickets and more information at www.perthconcerthall.com.au/events.

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