Gumbaynggirr musician to evoke afternoon magic with classical fusion

The Penny Quartet likes to combine new music with traditional classical music. Photo: CHMS.

THE Penny Quartet will play at Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium on Friday, September 1, bringing what the Coffs Harbour Music Society (CHMS) describes as “their signature joyous approach in a program celebrating the sublime, the grit, and all that lies between”.

A highlight of next Friday’s concert will be the world premiere of a specially-commissioned work by local Gumbaynggirr and Barkindji pianist, composer, didgeridoo player and singer/songwriter, Manduway Dutton, from Coffs Harbour.

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During the concert, supported by Musica Viva Australia, the artists will speak about their program, which also includes works by Bartók and Haydn.

Penny Quartet originated when the players met as students in Melbourne in 2014.

Made up of Madeleine Jevons and Amy Brookman (violin), Anthony Chataway (viola) and Jack Ward (cello), the quartet takes its name from cellist and chamber musician Howard Penny, under whom they all studied at the National Academy of Music.

They like to couple new, modern works with their love of the traditional classical repertoire to appeal to younger audiences and have toured nationally and internationally.

The concert begins with Bartók’s ‘Quartet No. 4’, described as “all-consuming” and “fuelled by high-octane, galloping folk-inspired motifs, setting off some magical space for reflection”.

The world premiere performance of ‘Afternoon Light’ follows, specially commissioned by Musica Viva Australia from Manduway Dutton.

His first work for string quartet only gives audiences a chance to reflect on the magical period between the afternoon ending and the evening beginning, when colours can start to change as the sun begins to set.

“The afternoon light can be so different from day to day and can complement the environment that you are in,” Mr Dutton said.

“I hope that this piece can help the listener to imagine a landscape particular to them.

“It starts in a modal chord progression then moves into a more traditional chord progression, just as the light
changes and becomes warmer as the sun sets.”

The Penny Quartet will finish the short program with Joseph Haydn’s quartet Op. 50 no. 5, ‘The Dream’, which “has a stunning slow movement and plenty of tricks to listen for”.

As part of the Music Society’s commitment to support young musicians, the group will also give a free Masterclass at The Conservatorium on Saturday from 10am-12pm, which is open to students and other interested non-players.

Mr Dutton has worked as a writer with various singer/songwriters including Gumbaynggirr singer, Maanyng, as well as writing and performing his own songs solo and in bands.

He began playing the didgeridoo when he was about thirteen years old, and it ignited a passion for music.

He has since mastered the jazz piano, guitar, ukulele, and his latest achievement is his classical composition incorporating the didgeridoo.

Mr Dutton likes to experiment with sound.

“It is a reflection of what I like to do as a contemporary Indigenous artist,” he said.

“I use the didgeridoo in a more rhythmic sense.”

Mr Dutton has performed at many festivals, including Dark Mofo, the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Boomerang, Sydney Opera House’s Homeground, the Brisbane Festival and the G20 summit as well as with noted musicians such as jazz virtuoso, James Morrison, and with renowned stage directors like Leah Purcell.

He draws his inspiration from life experiences, relationships, and his home in Coffs Harbour.

“Just being in the area is pretty inspirational… the countryside and the ocean.”

The next concert, on September 29, will feature the ‘exotic’ Bandaluzia Flamenco.

By Andrew VIVIAN

Manduway Dutton, from Coffs Harbour, will present his first work for string quartet. Photo: CHMS.

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