Composer Correspondence: Mary Finsterer
When Mary Finsterer was asked by Syzygy Ensemble to perform her Circadian Tales she took this opportunity to reimagine the piece as a "small and concise musical structure within a larger framework, in a series of ‘miniature tales’ or episodes within the 24 hour cycle". The result of this first offering in the collection has captured hearts for its depiction of natural rhythms and the theme of suburbia in a recent performance by Syzygy Ensemble in their concert entitled Our Space at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
Originally commissioned by the Campbelltown Arts Centre, NSW, in 2009 and premiered by the award-winning Ensemble Offspring, the theme of Circadian Tales focusses on the idea of how stories can enrich our lives, transforming day-to-day and perhaps even mundane experiences, into opportunities for the discovery of simple pleasures. With noticeable folk influences, Circadian Tales IV is a response to the notion that small seemingly insignificant moments can make each day special.
Before Syzygy’s performance of Our Space - a recital focussing on the sounds and experiences of composers from all over Australia - flautist Laila Engle sat down with Mary to discuss the interpretation of the piece.
Reimagining Circadian Tales IV for six of Australia’s leading musicians at the helm, Laila Engle (flute), Robin Henry (clarinet), Jenny Khafagi (violin), Blair Harris (cello) and Leigh Harold (piano), and in this concert, Daniel Richardson on percussion, has meant that Mary has been able to translate the harmonic structures from the original to the new, without sacrificing any of the integral parts of the 'narrative'. "The main or essential elements of the piano, and the rhythmic structures of the original Circadian Tales draw inspiration from the harmonic blues structure which I codified to shape a rhythmic pattern that recurs throughout the piece. I wanted to make this connection with the blues because I see the blues as a creative response to an existence that was often filled with hardship and sadness."
Her upcoming projects? A concerto for violinist extraordinaire Natsuko Yoshimoto and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, a chamber piece for The Sutherland Trio and Biographica, a thrilling new opera set to propel audiences into the life and mind of a flawed genius, Renaissance gambler and scholar Gerolamo Cardano, whose ruthless quest for fame, wealth and immortality are themes as relevant today as they were 500 years ago ~ as dangerous today as then.
But the small pieces won’t stop there. That is the joy of the circadian rhythms.