Songs and Stories

In Conversation: Blair Harris

Cello Romance includes songs and chamber music by Russian, French, German and Italian composers. What is your favourite piece in the program?
I must say, of all the stunning repertoire, my favourite work is one that I am not in! Ravel's Deux mélodies hébraïques have this hauntingly delicate quality I love. Ravel's simple use of piano timbre to enrich and shape the text is unsurpassed for me. 

This is your third collaboration with Songmakers. What do you like about working with them?
Songmakers Australia has a fantastic diversity of programming, every time we meet I discover something new that delights me. For example I didn't know the previously mentioned Ravel work until I began researching this program!
I also love working with voice. It reminds me to look beyond my "cellistic coil" into what all musicians really want, for our music to truly sing.

How is this different from your work with Syzygy?
My approach to all music interpretation is fundamentally the same. I try to find originality and purpose in everything I play. Often in Syzygy we are preparing music that has not yet been heard by anyone other than the composer and while I find this creatively freeing, I also love having the performance practice history that is attached to older works. I find it an invaluable source to draw inspiration from and in some cases throw out!

What's next for you after this concert?
I am excited to say Syzygy will be recording its debut album featuring an all Australian line up of masterworks written for, or premiered by us. We back that up quite quickly with our Metropolis New Music Festival performance on May 6, going all out with multiple premieres of national and international works all linked together using the talents of visual artist Agatha Yim.

Blair Harris performs with Songmakers Australia on March 26 at Melbourne Recital Centre. Tickets available via the Melbourne Recital Centre Box Office. Discover more about Blair and Syzygy Ensemble at www.syzygyensemble.com.