“With any of my work, story is fundamental. This applies as much to art songs as it does to a visual art installation or a museum-theatre work.

Justine Anderson comes to the rehearsal room with a swathe of unusual music and whacky ideas to go with it. The development phase begins with the research of each piece – not just the music itself, but where the music sits in each composers’ oeuvre, and where in time and place each composer was working. We look at the poetry of each piece, and aim to figure out each composer’s intention. We then factor in how each piece is relevant now, and what we want our audience to receive. This last point is critical: the audience has to sit front and centre in our choices – What is the story that we want to tell to our audience?

We plan which piece goes in which order, to enable the audience to have the richest experience possible, whilst working within the perimeters presented by the concert style of the event. 

Justine is a very talented singer and an impressive performer. She delights in artistic risk-taking in the telling of the stories. She brings to her audience delicious and sometimes outrageous characters. My job is to assist her in teasing the characters out, thereby strengthening the stories we are telling. Eternal Mystery is going to be an exceptional concert: expect to be surprised!” – Penelope Bartlau of Barking Spider Visual Theatre

ANAM Fellow Justine Anderson developed her Fellowship idea around repertoire from post-WW2 20th Century – works which she felt would fit well into the projects but which needed the support and resources of an organisation such as ANAM. Central to her projects has been the creation of a thematic idea and the presentation of her ideas in a theatrical context, hence her collaboration with director Penelope Bartlau.

Here are some thoughts Justine shared with us on her Fellowship performance, working with a director and seeing her projects come to life:

“Presenting a concert in a theatrical communicative way is important to me. I feel that often music from the 20th/21st Century can be so complex that it is understandably presented in quite a dry way, with musicians staring with intense concentration at their scores. I have tried to break this mould by presenting each of my Fellowship concerts with a narrative idea and with some colour, movement and drama. Working with Penelope has been terrific! I’ve worked with opera directors before but not a theatre director as such. Penelope has an incredible eye for detail and is always challenging me about the purpose and story behind every movement, decision and costume. It is these artistic choices that help make such an impact when singing this music.”

“Most of the Fellowship works are enormously challenging for me both as a performer and a musician. Technically I’ve chosen pieces at the extremes of my vocal, dynamic and theatrical range. I chose pieces that are rarely performed in Australia and which extend me as a performer. I find performing music of the 20th and 21st century exhilarating and challenging and I hope to be able to challenge and entice the audience along with me. I hope that they hear and see the many layers behind this often complex music and that they’re intrigued by it! I think they will be surprised (maybe even shocked) by some of the theatrical content and I think that’s a good thing!”

“One of the hardest part of this experience has been the organisation of so many people with both ANAM musicians and guest artists. In fact I’ve had moments when I thought it was almost impossible to organise! There are advantages though – it’s an opportunity to work with many wonderful musicians and I’ve met lots of people this year, including people I hope to keep in touch with! Making connections within the musical and artistic community is such a big part of my music career and I hope that some of the connections I’ve made this year are sustained into the future. Also in the future, I love the idea of doing lots of cross pollination projects with other art forms. I do think that there is a path there for classical musicians. As long as I’m doing creatively musical projects, both big and small I will be happy.”

Justine’s final ANAM Fellowship performance is a musical depiction of the extremes of human nature. George Crumb’s dreamlike Lux Aeterna is juxtaposed against Lucas Foss’ Time Cycle where the dark words of Auden, Houseman, Kafka and Nietzsche describe how “The world is deep… deep in it’s woe”. A moment of light breaks the gloom with Messiaen’s Resurrection, concluding with Ligeti’s riotously dystopian Mysteries of the Macabre. All are presented as a riotous (with the hope and vision of Penelope Bartlau) theatrical experience.

ANAM Fellowship Project by Justine Anderson

Tuesday 10 November 6pm
Venue: ANAM, South Melbourne Town Hall

Tickets are $15 (available at the door)
For more information visit anam.com.au


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