There is something really magical about February in Perth. The city streets come alive as everybody floods out to enjoy balmy evenings under the stars and take advantage of the pop up bars, restaurants and stages as the arts, in all forms, take over!
In Perth, February means festival season. As the Fringe World Festival and Perth International Arts Festival waltz into town we are all reminded that Perth isn't just a quiet little isolated city anymore. Venues all over the place return to life. Comedy, dance, theatre, art, circus, photography, music, street performers and well... mermaids pop up in all imaginable forms in every corner of the city and, for a couple of months audiences are spoilt for choice!
Not just in festival form however. Independent events also flood the town and the outer suburbs ensuring that everyone gets a piece of the action.
Although this year I haven't been personally involved in the Festivals (as a participant that is) I have been involved in the magic of February in other ways.
A couple of weekends ago I was fortunate enough to join the Perth Symphony Orchestra for an incredible weekend in Margaret River performing Diana Krall and James Morrison.
It was a really wonderful weekend of shows at Leeuwin Estate, a weekend of the best company, beautiful scenery, good food and wine and the most inspiring musicians. Diana Krall and her band were truly phenomenal!!! Such an honour to work with such high calibre musicians who just ooze a love for their art.
My main venture and joy this month however has been my work with my lovely string quartet, Mill Point Quartet. For those of you who know me, I have a very soft spot for chamber music, in particular for string quartets and for working with this incredible bunch of people.
There is something very special about playing string quartets. The writing is so involved and varied, no one has a chance to sit back as every single note is as valuable as the next. Melodies drift from one instrument to the next as conversation is lifted from the page.
Not only do I have the joy of performing string quartets consistently throughout the year, but I get to do it with some of my closest friends. I know I say this a lot, but I don't think there is much better than that.
Last Sunday we ran a little concert at the Kidogo Arthouse, a gorgeous limestone gallery nestled right on the beach of Fremantle.
Inside you will find worn hard wood floors, wooden rafters and whitewash walls, usually covered in fascinating exhibits by local and international artists. I am really in love with this building, every part of it tells a story, and it is such a joy to play in. Not only are the acoustics beautiful, but we are able to share our stories with a space that listens and shares its tales back.
One of our main goals is to expose audiences to new experiences and share with them music that they may not have heard otherwise. We find that people can be turned off by the traditional concert experiences and concert halls, and as a result aren't exposed to classical music in a comfortable way feel as connected with the music as we do. So when choosing spaces to perform in we try to choose ones that are as welcoming and relaxing as possible.
As we dance around the stage with bare feet in the glittering candle light, to the sounds of crashing waves from outside, I feel this building allows just that.
We just performed two works on the night, String Quartet No.21 in D Major K. 575 by Mozart and String Quartet Op.44 No.1 in D Major by Mendelssohn. Both wonderful pieces - if you like string quartets and haven't heard these yet I highly recommend them.
I am actually sitting here researching repertoire for the next couple of concerts as we speak. There is so much incredible music out there. I can't wait to get the ball rolling on these next projects so that we can share it with everyone!
It is quite a thing to run your own concert. Very different from being invited to perform at an existing concert series. The amount of background work is obviously much higher and well it is a bit of a risk, but it is so worthwhile when these self run events are successful and everyone leaves with a smile on their face, even if it leaves us utterly exhausted!
All photos of Mill Point Quartet were taken by Robyn Hamilton.