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SwanSongs – Northern Lights


Sun 9 Jun 2019, 3:00pm–5:00pm

Where: Christ Church Anglican Church, Cnr Stirling Hwy and Queenslea Dr, Claremont, Western Australia

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Standard: $30.00
  • Concession - Senior & Student: $25.00
  • Additional fees may apply


Listed by: swansongsmusic

The Northern Lights define most peoples' vision of the Arctic Circle, dazzling displays of atmospheric colours above stark, snowy landscapes. New Zealand-born singer Brigitte Heuser returns in spirit to her former home of far-north Norway, with Alexandra Bak, to present great songs from countries bordering the Circle, Norway, Finland and Russia. Expect music blending finely-drawn simplicity, soaring passion and echoes of folk music, with the clear-sighted vision that comes from those wide landscapes.

Grieg's four songs Op21 portray the sweetness of lovers meeting for the first time, waking in the bright morning, the celebration of spring (a big deal after long Northern winters), and the compulsion of a sailor to take to the open sea on a voyage of blind discovery. No gloomy introspective Scandi-noir here, then.

Sibelius was a proud Finn, and, like Grieg, a nationalist who helped create and define their new nations, free of foreign domination, but wrote songs in Swedish, once the official language of his homeland. All the patient, slow-burning power of his glorious symphonies is distilled into his songs, truly Diamonds in the Snow as one title has it.

Shostakovitch is another composer known for his mighty symphonies, but his four Op86 songs find him in much more romantic mood. Battered by denunciations from the Communist Party's Central Committee, he turned to writing more accessible music. He struck up a friendship with poet Evgeny Dolmatovsky after meeting on the Moscow-Leningrad train, and, encouraged by his wife who appreciated the softer side to Shostakovitch's character, he produced these lyrical songs of love and friendship. Motherland Hears became one of the Soviet Union's most popular songs, actually sung by Yuri Gagarin during the first manned space flight, and broadcast to millions. It's Russia's "one giant step" moment, in effect.

Rachmaninov is, for many, the epitome of musical romance, and his last set of songs, Op.38 do not disappoint. A passionate declaration of love, a nocturnal garden and a rat catcher are among the diverse scenes, set above sublime piano parts.

Rimsky-Korsakov is much-loved for his glittering, thrilling orchestral and ballet scores, but was a prolific songwriter, every bit as deft and exciting as their larger-scale companion works. The two Romances are exotic and sensual, portraying a nymph and a summer night's dream.

SwanSongs is proud to present these two fastidious and big-hearted artists. Alexandra has been a West Australian Opera chorister and soloist for a decade, as well as taking roles for Opera Box, the Australian Opera Studio and Black Swan Baroque. "Soprano Alexandra Bak sang with confidence and excellent projection…. it was the high point of the evening.” - Vienna Pops, Perth Concert Hall, The West Australian

Brigitte is a graduate of the Australian Opera Studio, and pursues a career that has taken her to Germany, Norway and the UK. Her home is now in Perth, and WA audiences can hear her as the redoubtable Katisha in Mikado for the Gilbert & Sullivan Society.