I was pleased when the UNSW Winter Gala was moved from the Sir John Clancy Auditorium to the more intimate Tyree Room at the Scientia Building. This made for a convivial, cosy atmosphere, as rugged-up enthusiasts had the pleasure of being musically entranced by Sara Macliver and Ian Munro. One could immediately feel the collaboration and rapport between these two wonderful artists who curated the program around women in love, life and musical creativity. Entitled “Songs my mother taught me”, the program included Dvořák’s song by the same name.
Sara’s wonderfully controlled voice and precise diction balanced well with Ian’s sensitive piano accompaniment. Together, they communicated feelings of joy and sorrow in songs ranging from Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und -leben”, Haydn’s Pastoral Song, “My mother bids me bind my hair”, Dvořák’s eponymous “Songs my mother taught me” to Grieg’s “Mutterschmerz” and Katharine (Kitty) Parker’s Six Songs with words translated from ancient Chinese poems.
Sarah and Ian both talked about the composers and their works, pointing out some poignant details about their lives. The songs were interspersed with piano recitals of works by some of the lesser known women composers, namely Hélène Tham and Kitty Parker, plus Josef Suk’s piano piece about his mother.
We were blessed with the surprise addition of Brahms’ Lullaby before interval and Mozart’s Wiegenlied (lullaby) after. After much warm and well-deserved applause at the end, we were further treated to an encore: a song by Calvin Bowman from “Real and Right and True” – a truly wonderful evening indeed!