BY LLOYD VAN’T HOFF
On the weekend, musicians from across the country gathered in the Adelaide Hills for UKARIA’s flagship weekend event, UKARIA 24. This year, Scottish classical accordion virtuoso James Crabb curated, leading an all-star line up of more than 30 musicians from across four concerts.
We bring you exclusive insights from young musicians performing at the festival, representing three of the major training pathways in Australia: the Australian Youth Orchestra (through Momentum Ensemble), the Australian National Academy of Music, and Musica Viva’s FutureMakers program.
This photoblog comes from Lloyd Van’t Hoff, clarinettist in Arcadia Winds. CutCommon would like to give a special shout-out to our contributor Dylan Henderson, who took a few of these stunning pictures on behalf of UKARIA.
Lloyd Van’t Hoff, checking in from UKARIA on August 25…
This week, I find myself in the Adelaide Hills at the stunning UKARIA Cultural Centre for the annual UKARIA 24 event. It’s the fourth time I’ve been here in 15 months, and it brings back fond memories of many enriching collaborations and resulting friendships. These memories are not the least part a result of the inspiring natural environment that the cultural center is built into; and, of course, that amazing backdrop, which can often trigger your imagination to wander throughout your time in the centre.
Being at UKARIA is a truly immersive experience. I can’t think of any other venue in Australia where the artists stay in the same beautiful environment that they’re able to make music in. Nestled atop the Mt. Barker Summit, the Twin Peaks house and cottage is like something out of a fairy tale.
With perhaps the most glorious view of the Adelaide Hills and the concert hall, this backdrop allows for a rather idyllic opportunity to relax amongst the kangaroos and koalas after a long day of rehearsal, or to simply allow for your thoughts of the day to catch back up to you.
Currently in its second iteration, this year UKARIA 24 is being curated by accordion virtuoso and all-round top bloke, James Crabb. I first met James last year after returning from a residency at the Banff Centre in Canada. I remember how curious he was about my experience, so I shared my many stories with him over a beer or two at an excessively trendy South Melbourne Bar.
Perhaps my fondest story was of the time I spent working with Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov on his song cycle Ayre. This astonishing work consists of a concoction of material from Arabic, Hebrew, Sardinian and Sephardic origins. It’s not only an ecstatically beautiful piece but also a radical and disorienting one. The most striking example of this for me occurs in the Sephardic song Un Madre Comió Asado, where Osvaldo juxtaposes music of utmost serene beauty and simplicity with a horrifying text about a mother roasting and eating her child. Needless to say, Osvaldo and his work left a big impression on me, and perhaps through my storytelling, it left some impression on James, too. I find myself fortunate enough to be performing this transformative work again this week alongside Maestro Crabb at UKARIA 24.
As a young musician, making the step into the profession can be both an amazingly enriching experience and a nauseatingly daunting one
As a young musician, making the step into the profession can be both an amazingly enriching experience and a nauseatingly daunting one. This is the third year I’ve spent consolidating that step and I still feel as nervous in the lead up to any professional rehearsal as I did for my very first professional engagement. I suppose it comes a lot from not knowing what the environment will be like that you’re working in. Even though I know my part to Golijov quite well, there is still that element of anxiousness that comes from playing with a totally new group of people. I often find the anxiousness goes away after the first read-through, and from there I’m able to really focus on what I need to do in order to make the performance a successful one for everyone involved.
As mentally consuming that this fear of the unknown can be, it’s something I try to embrace as an ordinary part of the process and, indeed, life in general. Because, let’s face it: life would be boring if you could predict everything that was ever going to happen!
What I love most about performing chamber music is that your experience of the music is often shaped by the people you are performing with. Coming back to Ayre, this time with completely different people – all of whom bring different life experiences into the rehearsal room – it’s a completely new and exciting piece of music for me.
I’m constantly fascinated by people, their personalities and the way that can shape your own musical experience. All of these different elements help keep my own personal music-making fresh because I can never ever predict how something is going to go until I’m in that moment, and responding off that stimulus. Knowing that you’re creating something unique and special to that instant is something that’s extremely rewarding and a constant source of inspiration for me.
This spirit is incredibly infectious
With that in mind, working with James and the fabulous team of musicians he’s brought together for UKARIA 24 has been a breath of fresh air for my own music making – alongside the actual fresh air that I’m consuming out here in the Adelaide Hills. James’ musical ethos is one that embraces honesty and spontaneity. He has an incredible gift of making the music seem alive and exciting, whilst still upholding the of integrity of our craft. And fortunately for me, this spirit is incredibly infectious. I’ll cherish these memories and new friendships for years to come and look forward to discovering what we create together this weekend.
Lloyd Van’t Hoff teamed up with other musos to perform Ayre and other works the following day, at UKARIA 24. Learn more about the cultural centre on the website.
Lloyd will also perform alongside pianist Alex Raineri and cellist Jack Bailey as part of the ANAM Artists program in Victoria and at the Sydney Opera House in September; and he’s been selected as a guest artist in the 2018 Selby and Friends season.