A Fine Way to Connect: Sharing classical music at MACS

On 19 September, Melbourne Recital Centre (MRC) Music Always programme brought more concerts to MACS, profoundly raising meaningful human connections here. They sent the sixteen-piece Inventi Ensemble, which performed symphonic works of two of the greatest composers of the Classical era: Mozart and Haydn.  The works were Mozart’s Symphony No 40 and Haydn’s Symphony No 6 Le Matin, (the morning).

For residents, home care consumers, their families and staff who attended these performances, this was an unforgettable musical experience.

Through the language of music so sublime, the audience on that day could share inexpressible depths of emotion evoked by the music. And perhaps sharing the music together was an affirmation of connectedness between each other. Throngs of eager listeners mingled in the packed chapel venue, its foyer and outside hallway. Everyone was included. Even those who were immobile were wheeled in, some in large Princess chairs.  Some of the audience moved to the music rhythms, shadowing the musicans’ movements as they played their instruments.

No matter how diverse the audience was, there was an intimate surrender to the beauty of the music and the joy that it brought.

Oliver Sacks reminds us that music can also be profoundly meaningful to us as human beings and can resonate deeply within us. Music doesn’t even have to be familiar to us. Our auditory systems, our nervous systems, are in fact tuned for music – human beings are musical species.

The Power of Music, Oxford Academic, Brain, A Journal of Neurology academic.oup.com/brain/article/129/10/2528/292982/The-power-of-music

This idea was clearly evident during these performances at MACS too. The attendees couldn’t get enough of sharing this deeply moving experience, even if they’d never been to a live performance in their life. Their applause was unashamedly loud. And frequent. Some people attended both concerts, even though they had the same programme.

Who could blame them? The programme selection by Inventi Ensemble was brilliant and was certainly a hit with the audience. And some of it, such as Haydn’s flashy finale in the last movement, reflected the entertainment factor of the music from that era, which Michael Tilson Thomas of the San Francisco Symphony, has written about. www.sfsymphony.org/Watch-Listen-Learn/Read-Program-Notes/Music-Then-and-Now-Classical

One resident who attended the concert, experienced a deep connectedness within herself and part of her story. With a gleam in her eyes, she talks about Inventi Ensemble’s performance and the feeling you get is that she has just taken part in in something extraordinary. Something that hasn’t come her way in a hurry: she hadn’t attended a concert for over seventeen years. At the MACS’ concert though, she drifted back to the Arena di Verona—the Verona Opera House in Italy—her country of origin. It wasn’t that MACS’ chapel resembled the ancient Roman amphitheatre with all its tiered seating. Rather, for her, it was going back to attending operatic spectacles. The Arena was and still is the world’s most prominent open-air opera theatre. And the grandeur of Inventi Ensemble, with its abundance of musicians and broad range of instruments, certainly carried her back to Verona. She thought about all those summers long ago when she had attended the opera there with her family. “Oh, it was all those violins here at MACS that made me think of it!” she exclaims. “So many musicians playing live! I remembered how I saw the great Pavarotti and wonderful operas like La Bohème and Aida.

We might even walk away with new insight, returning to our daily activities inspired somehow. We have experienced something beautiful together. And we could be living out the saying “Music can also evoke worlds very different from the personal, remembered worlds of events, people, places we have known.”
Oliver SacksMusicophilia:  Tales of Music and the Brain


And it seems that the language of live music serves our social functioning in our diverse community here at MACS. It bridges generations and backgrounds, immersing us in a deeply personal shared experience and even within ourselves to who we really are.

Now unleashed from the concert hall, MRC live performances at MACS have historically been about improving accessibility to classical music for older people. This sidesteps a cultural elite approach to a performance mode; it brings pleasure and connectedness to others who may not ordinarily be able to attend. MACS extends the warmest appreciation of MRC generosity for this opportunity.

Links and Resources

Verona opera house – Arena di Verona




Inventi Ensemble www.inventiensemble.com

Inventi Ensemble is a dynamic new chamber ensemble run by Artistic Directors Ben Opie (oboe) and Melissa Doecke (flute), drawing together Australia’s finest soloists and chamber musicians. Internationally, Inventi Ensemble musicians have performed at the BBC Proms, London’s Southbank, with San Francisco’s Ensemble Parrallele and Magik*Magik, as well as at music festivals in the UK, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Prague, Italy and the USA.

The instruments they played at MACS were: six violins, two violas, two French horns, two bassoons, two oboes along with a cello, a bass and a flute. Thanks to Becca Hill from MRC as well who ensured this marvelous performance happened and who supported the Ensemble on the day.

Melbourne Recital Centre www.melbournerecital.com.au

Coming next to MACS from MRC on Friday 24 November for two concerts at 11am and 1.15pm, is Hetty Kate – fabulous swing vocalist. She will be presenting songs from the 30s and 40s.  Hetty is one of Australian jazz luminary James Morrison’s favourite singers, has graced stages from New Zealand to New York, released six acclaimed albums, sung for the lindy-hop/swing-dance community across Europe, Asia, North America and Australia, and more recently has joined the ABC Jazz / Universal Music stable of vocalists. www.hettykate.com

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