NEW POSITION A HIGHLIGHT FOR PHILLIPS
CITY Beach pianist Marilyn Phillips had a long association with Art Song Perth before the committee asked if she would formalise it by becoming artistic director.
The appointment is one of many high points in the Welsh musician’s illustrious career, which has included working at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre before moving to Perth with her husband in 1993 and adding WA Opera and WASO Chorus to her resume.
It was back while studying piano accompaniment at Royal Academy of Music in London that Phillips discovered her calling, specialising in vocal work and “understanding the voice in all its manifestations”.
This year she has used her expertise to celebrate Art Song Perth’s 25th anniversary, which will culminate on Saturday, August 15, with its fourth and final concert for 2015, Sara Macliver and Sally-Anne Russell in concert with pianist Marilyn Phillips.
“It’s been hard work but really terrific to see such an enthusiastic following of the art form in Perth,” Phillips said.
“This year we started the first concert with Aldo Di Toro and other singers and this is the fourth concert with Sally-Anne and Sara.
“In between we’ve included as many singers and instrumentalists as we could, keeping concerts carefully balanced and formulated but using as many local young singers and pianists as we could.”
Phillips said the simple principle of art song was the performance of classical song in any language where the singer must interpret the words.
“It can be sad, tragic, funny, romantic, but the singer has to convey this mood or interpretation,” she said.
“It’s not like opera; there are no wigs, no props and no costumes, and piano is very important as the pianist has to support and collaborate with the singer all the way.”
Phillips said she had designed the program to appeal to everyone and the voices of Floreat soprano Sara Macliver and mezzo-soprano Sally-Anne Russell matched beautifully.
“It’s almost seamless when one voice stops and the other takes over,” she said.
“It’s gorgeous and as performers they are very good communicators, so I’ve made sure we have a wide selection of styles, languages and moods to make it entertaining and accessible.
“Sally-Anne and Sara released an album some years ago called Baroque Duets, and we’ve included one or maybe two of the duets from that album and they are quite divine.”