Husband-and-wife music duo return to Canberra

Fortepianist Marie Searles and violinist John Ma. Picture: Graham McDonald.

AFTER practically 17 years performing in Europe, two former ANU college students, now a husband-and-wife duo, have returned to reside and work in Canberra.

In November, music reviewer Graham McDonald alerted me to the work of Marie Searles, who performs piano, fortepiano and harpsichord and John Ma, who performs violin and viola d’amore.

After I meet up with them for espresso in Aranda, I be taught that they first met as college students greater than 20 years in the past and now, again on the town with two youngsters, they discover themselves hooked up to the ANU and being requested to carry out with all the most important early music ensembles throughout Australia.

Late final yr, after a variety of what they referred to as “unlabelled” concert events, they fashioned their very own Ensemble, Apeiron Baroque, named after a Greek phrase usually that means “infinite” but additionally equated with evenness, plurality, movement and even their obvious reverse, badness.

Their thought is to current high-quality concert events in an accessible environment, practice an area pool of specialists, current cross-disciplinary concert events involving shows from non-music consultants and turn out to be an area ensemble that will appeal to nationally and later internationally recognised specialists.

“Large visions with a long-time body,” Ma tells me, “however we plan to be based mostly in Canberra for the remainder of our lives.”

With Ma on strings and Searles on keyboard on the core, Apeiron might be augmented with visitor artists, dance, poetry and extra.

Right here’s the place it will get fascinating.

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Whereas Searles, a Canberra woman, has been a musician all alongside, finding out for a level on the ANU Faculty of Music, Ma comes from a mathematical and scientific household.

He got here right here from his residence city Perth as a Nationwide Undergraduate Scholar to check physics, not music, however abandoned science as a occupation, finding out music in Sydney and on the Australian Nationwide Academy of Music in Melbourne, then finding out and dealing the recital circuit with Searles from their base in The Haag, a “pilgrimage” vacation spot  for early music consultants, they inform me.

It was a giant choice for them to go away the Netherlands, however they don’t remorse it. Searles had been eager to get again to the household for some time then the pandemic made them suppose severely.

“I’ve bought a giant household right here, and there are many cousins for the youngsters,” she says, including, “apart from, we don’t like huge cities.”

Now Ma just isn’t about to let go of the traditional concept that music and the sciences are intimately associated.

His thought for concert events is to herald folks from different fields, so there could possibly be phrases – poetry, perhaps a lawyer speaking, or a violin-maker like Canberra’s Hugh Withycombe speaking about devices, or a scientist.

“Typically whereas listening, your thoughts must go to others issues,” he says, “one factor wants to tell one other, so we’re mixing factor up.”

Their 2023 season begins with “Trios for 4,” the place they’ll be joined by Lauren Davis on violin and Clara Teniswood on cello in a efficiency they hope might be “sincere, uncooked, and passionate”.

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Ma is adamant that “a newcomer shouldn’t concern the primary expertise and unstated etiquettes of a classical live performance corridor,” so highlights will embody a sonata of untamed animal sounds by Heinrich Biber from Salzburg, a dance tune from the Scottish lands, and music from a cloistered nun trapped in a time-bubble.

As well as, they are saying, tongue-in-cheek, there might be music by “lesser-known” composers corresponding to Handel, Telemann, and JS Bach.

Apeiron Baroque, Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest, 5pm, March 25.


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Ian Meikle, editor