Press


REVIEW: FROM SORROWING EARTH (LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: From Sorrowing Earth
Iwaki Auditorium
October 31, 2015
Publication Date: November 5, 2015

Reviewed by Lisa MacKinney
Limelight Magazine

Eminent Australian composer Nigel Butterley AM turned 80 in May, 2015, and this (unfortunately) rare performance of his works doubled as a joyous celebration at which the composer was happily present. Butterley lectured for nearly twenty years in contemporary music at Newcastle Conservatorium from 1973, following several decades of prolific and prize-winning compositional output and a long association with the ABC. He became a Member of the Order of Australia in 1991, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Newcastle in 1996. Three of his works were performed tonight, along with the world premiere of a new Butterley-inspired work by Elliott Gyger.

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REVIEW: FROM SORROWING EARTH (PLANET ARTS)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: From Sorrowing Earth
Iwaki Auditorium
October 31, 2015
Publication Date: November 5, 2015

Reviewed by Chris Cody
Planet Arts

The Arcko Symphonic Ensemble, under the direction of conductor Timothy Phillips, showcased a program of music to celebrate the 80th birthday of contemporary Australian composer Nigel Butterley. As an ensemble designed to keep the work of modern Australian composers alive long after their work has been premiered, I can’t think of a group better suited to celebrate this milestone. Teaming up with pianist Zubin Kanga and composer Elliott Gyger (both of whom have ties to Butterley and his work) has allowed Phillips and his ensemble to present a very personal program of some of Butterley’s most iconic yet underperformed works.

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REVIEW: FROM SORROWING EARTH (CUT COMMON)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: From Sorrowing Earth
Iwaki Auditorium
October 31, 2015
Publication Date: November 4, 2015

Reviewed by Madeline Roycroft
Cut Common

Elliott Gyger’s ‘From Joyous Leaves’ expands upon the musical framework of Butterley’s piano sonata, overlaying extreme levels of structural and textural organisation into a seemingly spontaneous dialogue of compositional styles. Arcko is in fine form, expertly contrasting the delicate opening of three violas with soloistic dovetailing that develops across the ensemble. While his palpable expertise is captivating from the beginning, Kanga’s performance becomes utterly hypnotic at the astonishing reveal of Gyger’s magic trick – the prepared piano. Kanga’s expressive interpretation of the complex material, in which 22 prepared keys are diligently avoided, becomes all the more remarkable for several unsuspecting members of the audience who, like myself, have elected not to read the program note until after the performance. We have no idea the piano is prepared until about 10 minutes into the piece, and all keys are pressed!

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REVIEW: FROM SORROWING EARTH (ARTS HUB)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: From Sorrowing Earth
Iwaki Auditorium
October 31, 2015
Publication Date: November 4, 2015

Reviewed by David Barmby
Artshub

A landmark celebration of the music of Nigel Butterley who celebrates his 80th birthday this year.

The Arcko Symphonic Ensemble comprised upwards of 60 musicians for this long-planned celebration of Nigel Butterley’s music and his 80th birthday. Conducted by the ensemble’s founder Timothy Phillips, this co-operative of formidable skill performed Butterley’s From Sorrowing Earth (1991) and Elliott Gyger’s From Joyous Leaves (2015), on this occasion receiving its first hearing. Pianist Zubin Kanga contributed the exquisite Butterley miniature Uttering Joyous Leaves (1981) before the featured composer’s large-scale radiophonic work, In the Head the Fire (1966). Throughout this celebration there was a palpable sense of esteem, indeed affection, from the performers, composers present and members of the audience alike towards Nigel Butterley, also present in the Auditorium, who has held his own unique and important voice in Australian contemporary music – as a composer, educator and performer – for nearly six decades.

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REVIEW: FROM SORROWING EARTH (O'CONNELL THE MUSIC)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: From Sorrowing Earth
Iwaki Auditorium
October 31, 2015
Publication Date: November 1, 2015

Reviewed by Clive O'Connell
O'Connell The Music

This ambitious concert’s title refers to Nigel Butterley’s 1991 score, a kind of symphony in one movement which can be read as a lengthy meditation on the planet’s destruction or in even more concrete terms as an active threnody on environmental ruin, albeit a plaint where the listener is eventually offered some grounds for optimism.

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REVIEW: LIKE A MAELSTROM (WEERING REVIEW)

Music Review: Two Concerts, Two Temples
Church of All Nations
February 21, 2015
Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Weering Review

Director Timothy Phillips continues to present performances of Australian composers, especially works of the past 50 or so years that have only been given one hearing.

For me, fine chamber music always has me feeling like I’m eavesdropping on a marvelous conversation between the players. To experience chamber music played live is to add a dimension of physical engagement as you observe the players work together, The Silo Quartet worked hard, delivering a flawless, unified sound over the complex inner lines.

The same intense and dedicated musicianship was given to us by all the succeeding players on the night. Phoebe Green gave a remarkably poised performance of Colbert’s Torque for solo viola.

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REVIEW: CLASSICAL YEAR IN REVIEW (THE AGE)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble and Bolt Ensemble: Melbourne Festival
Iwaki Auditorium, Melbourne
October 15, 2014
Publication Date: December 29, 2014

Reviewed by Clive O'Connell
The Age

Not the dullest of times, 2015; not the brightest, either. The serious music front followed a steady pattern, with few surprises to disrupt the usual procession of recitals and concerts.

...MSO spin-offs the Melbourne Winds and contemporary ensemble Pantheon, John O'Donnell's Ensemble Gombert mounting a Jacobean Christmas or memorialising Anne of Brittany, Ray Chen fronting the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, Musica Viva's Sitkovetsky Trio outlining a noble Beethoven Archduke: all commendable but the Melbourne Festival concert of James Hullick's compositions from the BOLT Orchestra and Arcko Symphonic Ensemble stood out as an original, memorable, creative experience.

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REVIEW: CARLSRUHE-KANBERRA (PARTIAL DURATIONS)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: Karlsruhe-Canberra
Northcote Town Hall
December 13, 2014
Publication Date: January 12, 2015

Reviewed by Matthew Lorenzon
Partial Durations

The Arcko Symphonic Ensemble’s final programme of 2014 delved into the influence of two very different locales upon the ensemble, its conductor Timothy Phillips, and its composers. From Canberra, where a generation or two of composers and pianists have been raised by Larry Sitsky including Alistair Noble, Rohan Phillips and Joy Lee. The State University of Music in Karlsruhe, Germany, also introduced Phillips to Wofgang Rihm and Stephan Schneider.

...Michael Kieran Harvey gave the piece all the three-dimensional complexity it asks for, with its murky bass tones; lonely, brittle, beating chords and fragments of harmonic voice-leading. I have never seen anybody reach into a piano so insouciantly to pluck out a crystal-clear high tone. There was even something smooth about the way Harvey knocked on the bottom of the piano.

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REVIEW: THESE COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOURS (THE AGE)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble and Bolt Ensemble: Melbourne Festival
Iwaki Auditorium, Melbourne
October 15, 2014
Publication Date: October 16, 2014

Reviewed by Clive O'Connell
The Age

Among the serious music events in the Melbourne Festival program, you find precious little contemporary music apart from these concerts comprising works by James Hullick and involving a cross-section of ensembles ready to take up his searching challenges.

For the first of four programs, Timothy Phillips conducted his Arcko group and the BOLT musicians in a quartet of pieces, each individualistic in construction and emotional power; all successful in bringing the composer's vivid soundscapes to life.

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REVIEW: CHAMBER VIEW 3

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: Chamber View 3
Fitzroy Town Hall
June 1 and 2, 2013
Publication Date: June 9, 2013

Reviewed by Nicholas M Tolhurst

Before beginning this review, be alerted to the next Arcko concert in the on the 19th and 20th October this year. In line with Arcko's mission of performing Australian works that have had very limited exposure, conductor Timothy Phillips is programming an all Australian program for string orchestra. If the concert can be held in the Reading Room of the Fitzroy Town Hall it will be a knockout. The acoustic of the Reading Room loves strings. If you like string music, this is the place to hear it, especially with the top players Phiillips engages for his concerts...

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REVIEW: PULLING STRINGS (THE AGE)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: Pulling Strings
BMW Edge, Federation Square
November 24, 2012
Publication Date: November 27, 2011

Reviewed by Clive O'Connell
The Age

WITHOUT a body like the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble, a fair few local composers would go begging for audiences; fortunately for us all, the group's founder/conductor, Timothy Phillips, emphasises Australian music, and not just recently produced material. In an arena where contemporary voices are heard only occasionally, Arcko's presence is to be relished...

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REVIEW: CHAMBER VIEW T(W)OO! (THE AGE)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: Chamber View T(w)oo!
Melbourne Recital Centre
September 4, 2012
Publication Date: September 6, 2012
THE AGE


Reviewed by Clive O'Connell

HEADED by conductor Timothy Phillips, members of the innovative Arcko Symphonic Project performed music by two Australian composers on Tuesday night: one a significant figure in the extraordinary flowering of contemporary Australian musical creativity during the 1960s, the other a generation or two down the track and blessed with an almost fearless lyrical gift. Nigel Butterley formed part of a group of musicians who dragged this country's musical life into something approaching 20th century practice. On this program, Karen Heath's slow-moving clarinet solo animated two brief meditations on Douglas Stewart's drama The Fire on the Snow...

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REVIEW: RARE TREAT OF DIFFICULT KEYSTONE (THE AGE)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: Rare Treat of Difficult Keystone
Melbourne Recital Centre
July 9, 2012
Publication Date: June 11, 2012
THE AGE


Reviewed by Clive O'Connell

BY AGREED tradition, contemporary music began with Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, which changed the game plan in nearly every technical area. A smaller revolution in popular consciousness came 42 years later with the premiere of Le marteau sans maitre by Boulez, a septet for voice and instruments that set the standard for post-Webern serial writing and managed to fuse an uncompromising intellectual purity with a sparkling, chameleonic sound-world. Melbourne performances of this keystone in modern music have been rare, so the Arcko Symphonic Project's version was particularly welcome...

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REVIEW: PULLING STRINGS (2009) (AUSTRALIAN MUSIC CENTRE)

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble: Pulling Strings
BMW Edge, Federation Square
May 30, 2009
Publication Date: June 12, 2009
AUSTRALIAN MUSIC CENTRE


Reviewed by Mark Viaggiani

A relative newcomer to Melbourne’s contemporary music scene, the Arkco Symphonic Project is dedicated not only to the development and performance of new work, but to the rediscovery and re-evaluation of older Australian music, both established and neglected. Conducted by Timothy Phillips, they presented a program of works for small string orchestra that juxtaposed three recent compositions by Melbourne-based composers with Nigel Butterley’s Canticle of David from the late 1950s. The works were interspersed with demonstrations of James Hullick’s curious 'Gothiolin' that served as interludes...

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