The idea of an all-Australian chamber orchestra in the UK shouldn’t be strange. After all, there are thousands of Australians living and working in the UK and it seems fitting that a concert entitled Maralinga Lament shou
Kelly Lovelady, an Australian conductor in London is the founding director of all-Australian chamber orchestraRuthless Jabiru. She is both a cultural ambassador for Australian and a campaigner for recognition forAustralian artists.The recent concert given at the Union Chapel was a programme that resonated with the Australian landscape, the trauma and tragedies suffered by the land her and peoples in the region of Maralinga, in South Australia. Not often publicized in an international arena, this stunningly evocative stretch of desert country was the site of atomic testing for a devastating period of twelve years, and is unfortunately a fact that most Australians are still unaware.
The stories of Maralinga need to be told, shared and acknowledged and while there are no Indigenous Australians amongst the orchestra members currently, Lovelady is quite passionate about ensuring that the stories told through music are also shaped and responded to by those who are affected at its source.
Nevertheless, the music conducted by Lovelady and performed by a brilliant company included the European premiere of Matthew Hindson’s Maralinga; a highly nuanced and finely executed piece that gave space and breath to the highly emotionally charged landscape that continues to bear witness to ongoing consequences of the fallout. Other highlight included Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten both of which were particularly powerful producing exquisite tones within the acoustics of the chapel.
Canadian soloist Lara St. John was also a powerful performer, her technique exceptional and she demonstrated her virtuosity with unrestrained passion giving the evening’s performance some unforgettable moments.
What was particularly poignant was that amidst the European traditional instruments of violins, violas, cellos, bass and percussion instruments the sounds of the didjeridu were resonant, potent and heard. The space was an ideal choice, with the stage being the perfect size for the orchestra and the perfect amplifications to be heard throughout the chapel.
An evolving company it is hoped that Ruthless Jabiru will explore and develop its Australian identity as it continues to share Australian stories with the rest of the world.