Libra Ensemble presented four concerts in Melbourne during October and November, with programmes focussing on works by Australian composers.
Our first concert took place under the umbrella of the Melbourne International Festival's Chamber Music Series. John Cage's Sixteen Dances marked one of the composer's first forays into the use of chance procedures to determine aspects of his music. The work is planned around an interlaced series of dances and interludes, each reflecting a particular emotional state.
Composer Chris Dench has contributed an important voice to Australia's musical diversity since his arrival here in the 1980s. His 50th birthday in 2003 offers an opportunity to reflect on over twenty years of composition. Dench's cycle for solo piano entitled Phase Portraits includes works written over a thirty-year period, traversing the composer's entire output. The cycle of fifteen pieces, which received its first full performance, includes two works calling for extra instruments - a second piano and a bass flute.
Libra's third concert featured noted German cellist Friedrich Gauwerky, who has been a regular visitor to Australia over the last two decades. Libra was delighted to have the opportunity to work with this phenomenal musician in presenting important international works by Mauricio Kagel and Paul Hindemith. This concert also included an important premiere: Chinese Whisper, commissioned from Damien Ricketson by the Ian Potter foundation.
With the assistance of the Australia Council, Libra Ensemble commissioned Streams Within from Perth-based composer Dominik Karski as a companion piece to Olivier Messiaen's classic work Oiseaux exotiques. These two works formed the basis of Libra's final Melbourne concert for 2003.
In February 2003 Libra undertook a tour of three concerts around Europe. A trio of Carl Rosman (clarinet), Mark Knoop (piano) and Kathleen Gallagher (flute) played concerts in Amsterdam, London and Stuttgart.