Arcadia Winds, five of Australia’s hot-shot musicians, will come to Armidale on Thursday 4 May to perform in the Thursdays@7pm Concert Series presented by the New England Conservatorium (NECOM) and Musica Viva Armidale.
Arcadia Winds is one of Australia’s newest wind ensembles comprised of Kiran Phatak (flute), David Reichelt (oboe), Lloyd Van’t Hoff (clarinet), Matthew Kneale (bassoon) and Rachel Shaw (French horn). Their list of achievements reads like the A-list of gold medallists in the Australian music world and includes Symphony Australia’s Young Performer of the Year Awards in 2013 and 2015, Directors Prize at the Australian National Academy of Music and 1st Prize at the Australia International Flute Competition.
NECOM recently caught up with Lloyd Van’t Hoff, Arcadia Winds’ clarinettist and winner of the 2015 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Award, to talk about the ensemble’s upcoming visit to Armidale.
Arcadia Winds – how did you decide on your name?
It comes from a quote by English flautist Emily Beynon who said: “You can take the flute out of Arcadia but you can’t take Arcadia out of the flute”. It has several ties back to Greek mythology. Arcadia refers to a vision of pastoralism and harmony with nature but is also the home of the Greek God Pan, who was synonymous with music and the flute.
How and when did the five of you get together as an ensemble?
Many of us studied together from 2008-2011 at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and we officially formed as an ensemble in 2013 at the Australian National Academy of Music.
What can the audience expect to hear at your concert?
A wide range of music with differing styles and genres, music that’s both old and very new, from all parts of the globe! Central to the program are works by two Australian composers Lachlan Skipworth and Natalie Williams which were both written for us.
You play Debussy, Ligeti, Nielsen and two Australian works – how did you choose the repertoire?
It’s a case of trying to find the balance between music we love, and music that we feel audiences need to hear. In an ideal situation, the music ends up being both of those things, and luckily for us this time that is definitely the case.
Do you have a favourite work or composer from this program?
I tend to liken that question to asking whether one has a favourite child! There are many different things we like about each of the pieces, and we try to string those things together to take the audience on a journey through the concert. Highlights for us are the two Australian works which are central to the program. We were fortunate enough to work with Lachlan Skipworth and Natalie Williams on their pieces so they were developed mutually. We are extremely proud of this and were also able to form close relationships with both the composers. Because of this fact, these pieces have a particular soft spot in our hearts.
As a musician, what skills do you need to play in an ensemble?
You need to have great interpersonal skills. We spend a lot of time communicating different ideas and working things out verbally in rehearsals and to do that effectively it takes a great understanding of each other as people. The next one is not so much a skill but rather something fundamentally pertinent: we each need to have mutual respect for one another. Without mutual respect, rehearsals, concerts and the business side of things can all suffer if that trust isn’t there for everyone.
What’s good about being in an ensemble?
I personally love the camaraderie. I do a number of other musical things in my life – solo engagements, orchestra, teaching – but I always love coming back to chamber music. It’s like a musical reset button for me. There’s something so special about being able to share the stage with your friends and colleagues, and being able to create something that’s entirely unique for your audience.
What advice would you give to Armidale’s young musicians just starting out?
What I love most about being a musician is that my instrument can be a voice for many weird and wonderful things. And I truly love not knowing where it will take me, which makes the journey all that much more fun. So for young musicians starting out, just make sure that your instrument becomes a voice for your ideas. Love what you do and always have fun doing so, because if you’re not, then what’s the point?
What else is in store for Acadia Winds this year?
We are just about to record an EP(!), there’s an international tour of China, a collaboration with indie singer/songwriter Bertie Blackman, and being involved in Musica Viva In Schools in metropolitan and regional schools reaching up to 15,000 students a year.
Thank you, Lloyd!
Not only will audiences hear the Arcadia Winds interpretation of Debussy’s ‘Petite Suite’, Ligeti’s ‘Six Bagatelles’ that pay homage to Bartók and Nielsen’s iconic ‘Wind Quintet’, they will hear two inspiring, entertaining and very accessible works written specially for them in the last year. The first is Lachlan Skipworth’s ethereal ‘Echoes and Lines’ and the second is Natalie Williams ‘Animalia’.
‘Animalia’ was inspired by the Australian National Gallery’s The Popular Pet Show exhibition that features portraits of famous Australians and their pets by contemporary artists including Lucy Culliton’s ‘Self with Friends’.
‘Animalia’ has four movements composed in response to four arts works by artists Kristin Headlam and the Culliton sisters Lucy and Anna. The music describes the poignancy of parting with one’s companion pet in the morning, the “wayward waltz” that you see in dogs around dinner-time, five sheep characters portrayed by Lucy Culliton matching the five sheepish faces of the quintet players, and the athleticism of a circus dog!
Arcadia Winds share the belief that, as wind musicians instinctively breathe together and are capable of creating an enormous variety of sound worlds, the wind quintet is an outstanding chamber medium that can rival the very best string quartets. NECOM and Musica Viva Armidale invite audiences to come along and take up the challenge – can winds rival strings when it comes to chamber ensemble performance?