Third lunchbreak concert in Sydney's Out of the Shadows Festival, August 2017.
One of the first groups that I approached to participate in Sydney's Out of the Shadows Festival was the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows. The Artistic Director of the Fellowship and Principal Viola of the SSO, Roger Benedict, is already known as champion of the repertoire of neglected 20th century composers such as Hans Gál and Ernst Krenek. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra developed into a world-class ensemble after the admission of talented refugee musicians (post WWII), and its audiences were bolstered by post-war migrants thirsting for European culture.
The SSO Fellowship not only provides training and experience for exceptional musicians in the orchestral context, but also gives the talented players the chance to perform in chamber music recitals. Since chamber music often favours string ensembles, I was determined to formulate a program in Out of the Shadows that featured chamber music for non-string ensembles. Two of the Jewish refugee composers that arrived in Australia happened to be wind players: Walter Wurzburger (clarinet and saxophone) and George Dreyfus (bassoon). We were very privileged to have George Dreyfus in the audience for this recital.
Programming for this concert started with these two composers. In the Symphonies Australia collection at the National Library of Australia I discovered Werner Baer's Three Short Sketches for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Percussion. Two student composers from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music presented works at this concert - Solomon Frank's Peripherals and Daniel Biederman's The Last Renaissance Man: POW Years 1941 - 1945. Integrating new compositions (by students former and current) as part of the general presentation in the festival was an imperative in project programming. Not only is the commissioning of new works an important initiative in the Performing the Jewish Archive project, but I felt that such works needed to be integrated into the Festival proper, to sound their own perspectives adjacent to the more historical works that were resounding for the first time in decades.
(c) Joseph Toltz 2017