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Omega Ensemble

Unexpected News: Nico Muhly & Philip Glass

Two world premiere recordings of works by the brilliant Nico Muhly are at the heart of this new release from Omega Ensemble, an album that explores the American modern tradition through four works by Muhly and the great Philip Glass.

Muhly is a musical polymath and one of the most exciting composers in the world today. A remarkable example of how music in the 21st century crosses genre barriers more than ever, he was the youngest composer to be commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera in its 139-year history, has written operas, pop songs, chamber music and more, and has worked with everyone from the Tallis Scholars to Icelandic icon Björk and indie rock darlings The National and Grizzly Bear.

The three Muhly works on this album are incredible examples of his style: wearing their influences proudly, but leaping forward into new modes of musical expression with extraordinary beauty and lush instrumental textures.

Unexpected News, commissioned by Omega Ensemble for this recording, describes a dramatic evening in a relationship, a slow transformation from an oppressive but quiet atmosphere of waiting to the shimmering pleasure of seeing a long-awaited friend to, finally, a luxurious sense of pleasure.

Muhly describes No Uncertain Terms as “a gallery of my own obsessions”, from Steve Reich to William Byrd and much more in between. A thrilling piece of music, it has moments of pulsing tension as well as yearning, ecstatic release.

By All Means was commissioned by the Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music as a response to Anton Webern’s Concerto for Nine Instruments, where Muhly seeks to turn the Concerto’s concise, severe serialism into thick, rich chords brimming with meaning and profound significance.

Philip Glass’s Sonata for Violin and Piano is in many ways typical of Glass’s writing, with repetitive, locomotive rhythm pulsing with energy. The challenge for any performer of Glass’s works is to sustain the repetition while finding the subtle variations within it – and this recording is blessed to feature Sally Whitwell, a world-renowned performer of Glass’s music. Whitwell has released two albums of Glass’s solo piano music – Mad Rush (winner of the 2011 ARIA Award for Best Classical Album), and the complete Etudes for solo piano (nominated for the 2018 ARIA Award) – receiving rave reviews from around the world.

This album was recorded with Nico Muhly overseeing the sessions, and produced and engineered by Tonmeister Virginia Read, who won the ARIA Award for Best Engineer for Sally Whitwell’s Mad Rush. Featuring a world-class line-up of musicians, this is an extraordinary, internationally significant recording of some of the most beautiful music written this century.

1 MUHLY No Uncertain Terms *
2 MUHLY Unexpected News * (Commissioned by Omega Ensemble)
Brett Brown baritone
3 MUHLY By All Means
4-6 GLASS Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano
Alexandra Osborne violin
Sally Whitwell piano
* World premiere recordings
Omega Ensemble
Gordon Hamilton conductor
Music can change lives. For almost 20 years, the Hush Foundation has been working with renowned Australian artists to create music of joy and calm – originally to support children in hospital, and now enjoyed everywhere from concert halls to living rooms. In this latest offering from the Hush series, pianist Tony Gould and guitarist Peter Petrucci present music that can bring optimism even in the toughest times.The Hush Foundation, under the inspirational leadership of physician Professor Catherine Crock AM, transforms the healthcare experience for patients, families and staff through music and the performing arts. It has produced 17 albums, bringing some of Australia’s finest performers and composers together in collaborative partnerships that engage with the lived experience of people in the health system and other stressful environments. Hush albums are played not only in hospitals, but also in aged care, palliative care and childcare facilities to reduce stress and anxiety. Community and international orchestras also play music composed for Hush. In 2014, Hush’s contribution to Australian music was acknowledged with the APRA/AMCOS Award for Excellence.Gathering of Kindness recognises the power of the small acts of kindness and respect that build trust and create a sense of safety and security in difficult and challenging situations. ‘When we ask patients, their families and those working in healthcare “What matters to you?”’ says Professor Crock, ‘the single word at the top of the list is kindness.’Tony Gould and Peter Petrucci wrote the music on this album with the Hush ‘family’ firmly in mind. ‘We hope they serve at least one of music’s purposes in life, and that is to help calm our fellow humans in times when things aren’t going so well. Music can do this superbly. It can also give us joy, can foster kindness and a sense that, ultimately, everything will be all right.’ This latest album has been named after the healthcare events Hush has hosted since 2016. The Gathering of Kindness bring people working in health and aged care together to talk about ways kindness can flourish in their organisations and services. These events are being hosted throughout November at metro, regional and rural healthcare organisations across Victoria, and include live performances of Hush plays and music, healthcare book launches and panels, narrative and a range of self-care workshops, as well as updates on new research being undertaken. Hush is also hosting a ticketed event at KPMG in Melbourne on Thursday 14 November.›Pianist / composer / critic / author / academic / educator Tony Gould has been involved in music in Australia for over half a century. A prolific performer, composer and recording artist across several musical genres of art music, Tony has composed and performed alongside other renowned musicians Australia-wide and internationally. His numerous accolades include membership of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his contribution to music.Peter Petrucci is one of Australia’s leading jazz guitarists, recognised for his virtuosity and lyricism in improvisations and artful compositions. He has released eight albums – the latest, They Know That We Know, in August 2019. Peter has performed locally and internationally supporting distinguished musicians and has appeared at numerous international jazz festivals, in the US, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and the Wangaratta, Stonnington and Queensland Jazz Festivals. TRACKLISTING 1 All Things Good2 Anthem3 Calm4 Autumn Lullaby5 Quiet6 Spring Town7 It’s Up to You8 A Little Folk Song9 Essence10 Truth and Beauty11 The Softness of Air12 The Smile Peter Petrucci guitar – Tony Gould piano Tks 1-3, 5, 8, 10-12 composed by Tony Gould.Tks 4, 6, 7 and 9 composed by Peter Petrucci.