Pianist, researcher and teacher David Dolan is a master of classical improvisation and has devoted an important part of his international career to reviving this lost art.

His research in to the subject focuses on creativity, communication and expression in performance whilst he has also explored the parallels between emotional expression in speech and musical improvisation.

Returning to ANAM in 2015, David will work with the ANAM musicians to explore the application of extemporisation in performance across a vast range of chamber music. ANAM spoke to David, asking him to share what he will be working on with the ANAM musicians and what the audience can expect at the public performances on Chamber Music Day.

What do you enjoy about your visits to ANAM?
The very rare combination of openness to the new and the risky, genuine love of music, zero compromise on quality (both instrumentally and in terms of music making), and a real sense of collaborative work and mutual support – not just polite courtesy. Performing for ANAM audiences has been a huge joy because I felt that it was easy to reach the audience in what became an authentic conversation, with a readiness to be touched by the music – that doesn’t always happen in other places around the world.

What will you be working on with the ANAM Musicians in your next visit?
The search for a personal take on the pieces while taking total ownership of the stylistic, harmonic and textural elements of the work. Enhanced listening and the ability to share in risk-taking and throw in fresh ideas in real-time will also be on the menu.

Chamber Music Day is a full day of music, how will the musicians prepare?
In addition to the above, there is an intensive preparation of this vast amount of repertoire, and the guidance of ANAM’s world-class teaching Faculty is what really makes it possible. I will focus the two weeks prior to the chamber music marathon on learning the pieces through the harmonic and structural reductions so that the performers own them as creators, essentially re-creating them on stage.

What can the audience expect to get out of the performances on Chamber Music Day?
The audience can expect a good deal of the unexpected even if they know the pieces! This is because at the time of the classical and romantic eras, the expectation of the performer was not to reproduce what was on the page but to recreate an artistic experience through the composition. What is on the page was a guideline, performed differently each time. This is possible only if the performers master the piece beyond the virtuosic technical demands from an instrumental point of view, but equally structurally, harmonically, motivically, and stylistically. This includes the understanding of the counterpoint and voice-leading of the works performed, and only then can a real freedom of interpretation take place.

For the musicians, this is one case where hard work and a lot of fun go hand in hand. And that’s nice!


For Chamber Music Day repertoire and tickets, please see anam.com.au


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