‘Snow is Summer’ pays homage to the windswept landscapes and islands of Scotland. The program drew together music from folk and art music traditions, moving between hauntingly beautiful melodies, toe tapping folk tunes and a contemporary Australian commission.
The instrumentation of the group provided many colours. Based around period instruments such as baroque violin, viola da gamba, theorbo and baroque guitar the inclusion of electric viola da gamba (possibly the only example of this instrument in Australia), lever harp and voice provided many possibilities for a varied program.
Artistic director Shane Lestideau provided a thoughtful narration throughout the concert, explaining the origin and connection within the program of many of the pieces. Her violin playing was exquisite. The gut strings provided an earthy tone and her skills as an improviser shone when in musical dialogue with the angelic voice of Claire Patti. Included in the program was her own evocative composition Snow in Summer.
Patti’s harp playing deserves special mention, even her skills at changing levers surprised audience members. At times the theorbo (Samantha Cohen) and viola da gamba (Jennifer Erikson) provided rock solid continuo accompaniment but they also showcased different talents. The walking bass line of the electric viola da gamba and the rhythmic strumming of the baroque guitar held the audience on the edge of their seats. Concluding the concert with a recent commission from Australian composer, Odd Dity by Alice Chance, may have been a musically risky move, however, the piece suited the instruments and performers so well, drawing together the themes and sounds of the concerts in a beautifully tuneful manner.
Shane Lestideau – Baroque violin/voice
Claire Patti – voice/Celtic harp
Jennifer Eriksson – viola da gamba/electric viola da gamba
Samantha Cohen – theorbo/guitar