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CSO set for a ‘vibrant’ season finale

Laura Peppas

She’s described as a “sorceress of percussion” but interestingly, it was out of frustration that Claire Edwardes turned to the instrument she is now famed for.

“Initially I was frustrated that I couldn’t play the piano with other people very easily, so I joined the local wind band on mallet percussion and the rest is history,” Claire says.

Specialising in the marimba, Claire ignited her career by winning the prestigious Symphony Australia Young Performers Award in 1999 after graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music as Student of the Year in 1997.

She has had a busy 2015, performing five concertos with various orchestras around Australia.

Next week she will join CSO chief conductor and artistic director conductor Nicholas Milton as he leads the Canberra Symphony Orchestra for the final concert of 2015, Rachmaninov.

Performing the concerto Golden Kitsch, the Sorceress of Percussion, Claire says she is “extremely fond” of the piece, which she wrote alongside Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin.


“Elena and I workshopped the piece at great length; she made many visits to my studio as she was writing it and it was probably the truest collaboration I’ve ever had with a composer,” says Claire.

“I love the piece because it is thoroughly engaging and entertaining. The percussion solo part is ever changing and off-set with a really fun orchestral part, there are loads of toy pianos featured in the work (I play one up the front and the percussion section have several), and there is even a bit where the wind section plays ratchets and other fun handheld percussion.

“There’s something almost childlike about [it] and I think the audience experience a youthful fascination as they watch and listen, all the while they are being taken on a magic carpet ride that they don’t even know they have taken until they hit the ground at the end!”

Opening with Márquez’ Danzón No. 2, the CSO is to be converted into a Mexican dance band on the night, with sensual rhythms and melancholic tunes.

Claire says audiences can expect charging rhythms and vibrant orchestral colours.

“There will be an array of interesting percussion instruments (including waterphone and amlglocken) as well as lots of toy instruments such as toy piano and hand held kids percussion which the orchestral musicians play,” says Claire.

“The main instrument I play during my piece is a vibraphone – and then there’s a loud section with solo bass drum which I love – and some high pitched crotales (brass discs) make a regular appearance too.”

The evening and season will conclude with Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, described as a stunning, virtuosic showpiece for the large orchestra, which will be the largest the CSO has presented in 2015.


the essentials

What: Rachmaninov: Llewellyn Series 04. Canberra Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Milton.
Where: Llewellyn Hall, ANU School of Music.
When: November 4 and 5 at 7.30pm. 
How much: Tickets start from $53. 
Web: cso.org.au.


Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author

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