Camerata Obscura premiers Tasmanian compositions alongside Mozart

How do you compose a musical piece if you're unable to play it? 

It’s a question which did not perturb Tasmanian composer Karlin Love, who will premier her work alongside Conor O’Brien’s composition in a showcase by Camerata Obscura.

Love’s piece for alto saxophone and strings, Homage, Laments and Ecstasies, was created when saxophonist Jabra Latham asked for a concerto after premiering one of her pieces in the early 2000s.

It took nine years of sporadic composing to write, but Latham will showcase her latest work on Friday night and Sunday as a guest performer.

While Love plays the clarinet, saxophone and guitar, she said she could not play the intricate concerto she created.

“Instead you collect an aural library of sounds and what people can do,” she said.

Initially Love asked Latham to show her what he was capable of so she could compose a piece to suit his skills.

“He could play higher and faster than I could, so that get’s stored in my imagination. It’s not in my fingers but I can keep it [in my mind].”

Air violin for the string section also helped her create the Arabic-inspired, three-movement composition, Love said.

The work was created as a social comment of the past and present situation in the Middle East, with a third movement signalling hope for the future.

Although creating a piece for bowed string instruments was a bit like translating from a foreign tongue, she said.

“It’s always a collaboration. It’s not the like the composer creates something and they just make it happen. Everybody gives to it,” she said.

“I write instructions here for what note to play when, but the inflection, the way it melds together, they make that happen.”

Love and O’Brien’s work will be performed alongside Mozart, Elgar and Purcell.

By linking traditional classical music and the new compositions it helped to contextualise the Tasmanian pieces, she said.

O’Brien, who is the double bass player in the group, composed The Obscure Suite for the ensemble.

  • Camerata Obscura will perform at the Scotch Oakburn College performing arts centre from 7.30pm on Friday and at Christ Church Longford from 3pm on Sunday. Tickets on the door are $20 for adults, $15 for concession and free for children.