Classical collaboration strikes a chord
IN a style of music that goes back centuries, a group of performers will also span two generations when they visit Dubbo as part of a regional tour of Australia.
The Seraphim Trio with Martin Alexander is a chamber music collaboration that has its roots with the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM).
The ANAM Artists Program brings together established musicians and graduates for an exciting musical pairing.
In this instance, the Seraphim Trio – violinist Helen Ayres, pianist Anna Goldsworthy and cellist Tim Nankervis – are performing with fellow alumnus, Martin Alexander, also a violinist.
The Seraphim Trio have been performing together since they were students themselves after connecting through the program in the late 1990s.
Ayres said they clicked two decades ago and have continued making music together ever since.
“We felt the same about music. We get along together. You need that chemistry when you start.”
They have performed together on stages around the world, played at international competitions and remained close-knit through individual pursuits, family and teaching commitments.
“We all started playing at school then at uni,” Ayres said.
“One of the ANAM judges wanted to work with an ensemble so we ended up living in Melbourne and travelling internationally to do competitions.
“That was two decades ago and we have played in Australia, Japan, Italy, England, Germany, Noumea and separately in New Zealand.
“We all have families now and we have relied on the history that we have together, the trust and repertoire mean we can pick it up and have that connection and understanding.”
Working with Alexander brings a new balance to the trio.
“He really brings down the average age of the group!” Ayres laughed.
“It’s really positive having that sense of collaboration. With a new player, the dynamic does change. It brings in a new balance. It gives us youthful enthusiasm.
“It creates a more symphonic atmosphere.”
As a musician, Alexander adds an exciting element as well.
“I think he was daunted at the start but his voice is definitely heard in the group.
“He is a positive collaborator and an energetic player. He is also a consummate professional who is open and honest.”
Another collaboration which has been a highlight for the trio was working with Paul Kelly on Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds which was named Best Classical Album at the 2019 ARIAS.
It was an exciting experience for the Seraphims.
“Initially I was star struck but by the first rehearsal we were just there working together,” Ayres told Dubbo Photo News.
“It really opened up new sounds collaborating with completely different people. We enjoyed it, learning from the best people in the room.
“He’s uncompromising in his standard, no nonsense and very honest, very hardworking.”
The trio is enjoying their tour to regional areas and Ayres said they look forward to the experience.
And as the year winds down, they already have a busy schedule for 2020.
“Next year we are playing with Brett Dean who is a viola player, we are performing at the Women in Music Festival, and working with composer Elizabeth Younan.”
And while other music fads may come and go, chamber music remains a classic style.
“There’s something vibrant about the need for chamber music. We just love the feeling, the beauty and the inflections. On the program, I am most looking forward to the Dvorák. The feelings of light and shade, it’s a joy to our ears.”
z Seraphim Trio with Martin Alexander, at Macquarie
Conservatorium tomorrow (Friday, November 22) at 7.30pm. Tickets from www.123tix.com.au, the Macquarie Conservatorium office and at the door.
z (piano) is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and versatile musicians. She has performed extensively throughout Australia and internationally. She has published two memoirs, Piano Lessons and Welcome to Your New Life, and is currently a Research Fellow and Lecturer in Ensemble at the Elder Conservatorium of Music and the Kenneth Moore Memorial Music Scholar at Janet Clarke Hall. She is also artistic director of the Coriole Music Festival. z Helen Ayres (violin) is a doctoral graduate of the University of Melbourne who has appeared with numerous Australian small ensembles including Flinders Quartet, Syzygy, the Australian Octet and Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. She has also performed with the BBC Scottish Symphony and London Philharmonic Orchestra and now teaches violin at Elder Conservatorium’s Centre for Young Musicians. z Timothy Nankervis (cello) is a member of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Australian World Orchestra and the Sonus Piano Quartet. He has performed in the Beethoven Triple Concerto, Brahms Double Concerto and Dvorák Cello Concerto and as a soloist with Orchestra Victoria. He also teaches cello and chamber music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and tutors regularly for Sydney Sinfonia, Sydney Youth Orchestra and Australian Youth Orchestra. z Martin Alexander (viola) commenced his tertiary studies in piano before switching to the viola. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and Honours at the University of Tasmania. He completed his Masters in Music at the University of Massachusetts (USA). He is a regular guest with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Symphony and Opera Australia Orchestra and has performed with the Queensland, Melbourne and Tasmanian Symphony orchestras. He also participated in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Fellowship program.
The Seraphim Trio will perform in Dubbo tomorrow (Friday, November 22) at 7.30pm. From left, Helen Ayres (violin), Anna Goldsworthy (piano), Martin Alexander (viola), Tim Nankervis (cello). PHOTO: PIA JOHNSON