The Sonata Project is an ongoing program of new Australian works for piano, played by Bernadette Harvey. Saturday night’s inaugural performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music featured new pieces by Aristea Mellos, Melody Eötvös, Jane Stanley and Ross Edwards and the music is bold and innovative, paving a new path for Australian musicians, and painstakingly created to engage with new audiences. The entire show was stunning, Harvey and Rachel Kent from the Museum of Contemporary Art and their team have transformed the humble piano recital from a bland hall to a space extravagantly decorated to reflect the intensity and passion of the works being performed.
Harvey was dressed in spectacular style by Australian designer Romance was Born, who specialise in playful styles that burst in a riot of colour. She appeared in the first act in a stunning ruffled red concoction from the cult label’s ‘Queen of the Night’ range, which couldn’t have been more fitting (pardon the pun). The ruffles evoked the romantic classical musicians of the European salons in the 1800s, before the music was brought to wider audiences in concert halls.
The entire set was designed with detail to reflect this bygone romantic era, with abstract paintings on the back wall by Sydney artist Lara Merrett, and a series of designer rugs in the foreground. Nothing on set was an accident, but all deliberately picked including opulent oversized floral arrangements by Myra Perez. The undisputed star of the night was Bernadette Harvey though, who is more than a bit of a rock star in the classical world, the audience included many of her students and former students, eager to hear the new music.
After the three sonatas from emerging artists Mellos, Eötvös and Stanley, renowned Australian composer Ross Edwards’ new work brought a nice conclusion in E minor, in keeping with Aristea Mellos’ introduction sonata in the same key. More Sonata Project concerts are planned for 2018, for more information and dates see: https://www.bernadetteharvey.com/performances/2017/11/11/sonata.
above image of Bernadette Harvey by Craig Wall.