Musical scales: Something fishy (and fun) is heading this way

Ensemble Q – QPAC’s chamber music company-in-residence – has been caught up in something fishy, namely its first concert, dubbed The Trout.

Apr 04, 2024, updated Apr 05, 2024
Musician with horn and fish ... Peter Luff has fun promoting The Trout, Ensemble Q's first concert for 2024.

Musician with horn and fish ... Peter Luff has fun promoting The Trout, Ensemble Q's first concert for 2024.

A man poses with a fish sticking out of his musical instrument. What does it mean?

Well, for a start it means that Peter Luff, who is an associate professor at Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, has a sense of humour.

Which is just as well because along with being head of brass at The Con, as it’s known, he is also a member of the shape-shifting Ensemble Q, a chamber music outfit that happens to be a company-in-residence at QPAC and national touring artists for Musica Viva.

They are serious about music but also like to have fun. Co-artistic directors Paul and Trish Dean, colleagues of Luff’s, are known for a sense of humour. And for programming music that is edifying and entertaining.

And they managed to get Luff to pose for a photo with a fish (albeit a plastic rainbow trout) peeking out of his horn.

Luff is a recognised guru of the horn and has played with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and other major orchestras. He is on the program for Ensemble Q’s first concert this year, The Trout. Hence the fishy optics.

The Trout Quintet by Schubert happens to feature a movement based on Schubert’s song Die Forelle (The Trout), which is a setting of a poem by Christian Schubart.

The song involves a fisherman and a trout. The quintet, with the movement inspired by the song, is central to the program for this first concert.

One of the strangest things about The Trout song is that a snippet of it was chosen as the piece of music that signifies the end of a washing cycle on Samsung washing machines. True story.

“Mine plays it,” Luff says. The thing is that Luff, despite posing with the fish, doesn’t get to play in that piece of music.

“There’s no horn in it,” he explains without sounding at all miffed. He will star, rather, for about seven minutes in Glazunov’s dreamy Idyll for horn and strings.

“It’s very beautiful,” he says. “This will be the first time I have performed it, though. He (Glazunov) channels old ideas of horn music and showcases the modern horn echoing its past.”

The concert, on April 14, will showcase five quintets by Schubert, Reicha, Beach, Skipworth and Glazunov, and feature varied instrumentation. This concert will culminate in what is regarded as one of the most loved chamber music pieces of all time, the aforementioned Trout Quintet by Schubert.

Ensemble Q co-artistic directors Paul and Trish Dean say they are delighted to present this varied and dynamic concert program to audiences.

“Following on from our visually based series in 2023, we have curated three concerts that explore different aspects of thematic programming,” Trish Dean says.

“Our first concert embraces the concept of simply having five performers on stage in quintet formation and illustrates the incredibly diverse soundscapes that can be created by combining a single wind instrument with string quartet.

“The program will be beautiful and entertaining – from Reicha’s virtuosic work for the bassoon, American composer Amy Beach’s deeply reflective and pictorial work for flute and strings, Glazunov’s dreamy Idyll for horn and strings and Australian composer Lachlan Skipworth’s fantastically atmospheric Clarinet Quintet. Of course, it’s all tied together by the piece that was voted Australia’s favourite chamber work on the ABC Classic hit list just a couple of years ago, Schubert’s Trout Quintet.”

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Ensemble Q’s concerts (three this year) are presented in “reverse mode” – with special seating that flows from the choir stalls to the stage – in the Concert Hall at QPAC, which makes for an intimate experience with this group of musical funsters.

That’s one of the reasons Luff loves playing with them.

“We have fun,” he says. “I think enjoying playing together is the priority. That has got us into trouble in the rehearsal room sometimes, but never mind.”

Paul Dean says Ensemble Q has gone from strength to strength, with 2024 set to be no exception.

“We are excited to be presenting our three-part QPAC series in reverse mode again,” he says. “It’s become one of the highlights of my year to be able to talk directly to everyone in the audience and feel such a powerfully positive response.”

Meanwhile, Ensemble Q will tour nationally with didgeridoo superstar William Barton for Musica Viva in September and October and has been invited to tour Portugal and Spain at the end of the year, which speaks volumes about the high esteem in which they are held.

If you want to find out how they weave their magic, you don’t have long to wait.

Ensemble Q, The Trout, Concert Hall, QPAC, April 14, 3pm

This article is republished from InReview under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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