On our radar this week, are the three delightful ANAM fellows Emmanuel Cassimatis (oboe), Matthew Kneale (bassoon) and Nicholas Young (piano) from Ensemble Françaix. Ahead of their Fellowship Concert Series launch this week, we checked in with the three of them to get to know them and their ensemble a little better.
How did you guys first get together and form Ensemble Françaix? Piano, oboe and bassoon is some pretty interesting instrumentation – was that a coincidence
EMMANUEL: Matthew was keen to play some chamber music with me and he was also looking for a pianist – I told him I live with one, and that’s how much the group started!
NICHOLAS: It was pretty fortuitous that I was living with Emmanuel at the time, and I feel very lucky to have been approached by him and Matthew. We rehearsed with each other a few times last year and performed a Soundbite, and enjoyed it so much that we decided to embark on a longer-term collaboration.
MATTHEW: The instrumentation was no coincidence – I felt the music for this combination was very special. There’s not much at the moment, but what is there, such as the trios by Poulenc, Françaix and Previn, is excellent. And by adding other guest artists and instruments we can still be very flexible and creative in our programming.
The Françaix reference? Any particular reason?
MATTHEW: Françaix means a lot to us as wind players. His orchestration manages to get all the character out of the wind instruments, and he’s written a lot of music that especially allows the oboe and bassoon to shine.
NICHOLAS: Françaix’s music is incredibly vivid, energetic and fun. We resonate a lot with those qualities and can’t think of a better composer to be named after.
Tell us a bit about your Fellowship project and what you are most looking to forward to?
NICHOLAS: The Fellowship Series consists of three one-hour concerts which are collectively the first showcase for this new ensemble, and we hope to display our versatility and talents across a variety of ensemble works. In addition to performing existing repertoire we are also commissioning local and international composers – Peter de Jager, Natalie Wong, Katia Beaugeais and Hakan Ulus – for new works that we will be premiering in these concerts.
EMMANUEL: We aim to put a new spin on certain popular works as well as bringing new creations to life. We’re also really looking forward to the mentorship of Zoe Knighton from the Flinders Quartet, who has been helping us to think outside the box and not to be complacent about what we want to achieve
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your fellowship so far?
MATTHEW: The biggest things we’re learning is how to grow an audience following, and how to be able to engage a donor base that we can turn to in our post-fellowship years. We’re also learning how to fundraise and give back to the community in a way that incorporates and includes all the people who so generously support us.
Is there a skill or opportunity that ANAM has facilitated you, that perhaps wouldn’t have happened elsewhere?
EMMANUEL: ANAM has helped us learn a lot of off stage, behind-the-scenes aspects – for example how to budget for a project, how to create as many opportunities as possible out of our own skills and mindset, and how to run a rehearsal effectively and make the most of limited time.
Are there any projects outside of ANAM you’re working on at the moment?
NICHOLAS: We’re really excited to be heading to Japan in May to participate in the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition & Festa, having being selected out of 239 applications. More locally, we’re in talks with various composers to organise further commissions following our ANAM Fellowship Series. We’d really like to expand the repertoire for the core ensemble of oboe-bassoon-piano, and in process, to support and promote the wonderful composers of our generation.
EMMANUEL: I’m also hoping to write some of my own music. Opus 1 will be for solo oboe, and my Opus 2 will be for oboe and bassoon!
How do you like to unwind post-concert?
MATTHEW: We enjoy spending time with each other over coffee, drinks or a meal. But the most important thing for me is that we enjoy what we play with each other, and cherish the experience when we make music together.
The 30 Mar 2017, 6.30PM
FRANÇAIX Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano
STANHOPEMorning Star II
MUSSORGSKYPictures at an Exhibition (chamber version)
Emmanuel Cassimatis oboe
Matthew Kneale bassoon
Nicholas Young piano
Lloyd van’t Hoff (alumnus) clarinet
Rebecca Luton (QLD) horn
For more information of Ensemble Françaix visit their website.