Interview: Bridget Alfred – Bringing Chamber Music To The Terrace

Chamber Music Adelaide (CMA) will once again be presenting its highly successful On The Terrace on Sunday 15th November.

Chamber Music Adelaide (CMA) will once again be presenting its highly successful On The Terrace on Sunday 15th November. This event, which is part of CMAs celebration of their return to live performance, will run between 11am and 4pm at multiple venues along North Terrace’s Cultural Precinct. Venues include The Art Gallery of South Australia, SA Museum, State Library, The University of Adelaide and the Migration Museum.

I recently caught up with CMA General Manager Bridget Alfred to discuss On The Terrace, the importance of chamber music education and how CMA operates and facilitates performance opportunities for multiple ensembles.

“CMA came about in 2013 when Arts SA wanted to find an effective way to represent the small to medium ensembles in the chamber music industry here in Adelaide. There were seven different groups that were really divergent in terms of output and they were doing really good work, and Arts SA wanted to make sure those groups survived and had regular funding. The decision was made to create CMA, which is a membership-based organisation with a core group of members. Since then CMA has grown in the role that it plays, and is developing more of an advocacy role, almost an event-brokering role in a way, creating audience experiences and opportunities for performers and ensembles.”

On The Terrace will feature the seven core organisations that CMA represents: Adelaide Baroque, Ensemble Galante, Kegelstatt Ensemble, Recitals Australia, Soundstream New Music, The Firm and Various People Inc. I was keen to hear how this unique performance idea came about.

“The original aim was to develop a partnership with cultural institutions along North Terrace and create an event that makes chamber music accessible, and people feeling comfortable with listening to it. The aim was to create an event where people could happen upon this beautiful music. It was designed to bring chamber music out into these public areas, at no cost, and in little 15 minute performances that’s really easy to absorb if you’re not a regular listener of classical music. It really is a way to bring chamber music to the people.

“It really reflects back positivity to the venues as well. One of wonderful things about Adelaide is how interconnected the different art forms are. This is another way that showcases what is really pretty unique about Adelaide. The whole cultural industry works closely together and supports each other.

“This year’s program is going to be rather exceptional. Soundstream will be performing a world premiere. They have put together an exploration of the sonic world, and they will be using unusual objects. This piece could be described as contemporary art music.

“Each performance is only 15 minutes in length so it’s perfect for families and young children.”

With a lot of schools basing their curriculum around what will be ‘engaging’ for the students, rather than a broader music appreciation, it is important for organisations such as CMA to foster relationships with schools and other music education facilities to keep the art of chamber music alive.

“Relationships with schools, such as Brighton and Marryatville Special Music Centres, are ones we really would like to build upon. A lot of our ensembles are already engaged with these schools in a variety of ways. Recitals Australia, as part of their lunch time series, have had a number of opportunities for Brighton High School Students, and The Firm is also closely connected to several schools. They are very active in promoting emerging artists and giving them opportunities. There’s also a large proportion of active music teachers within our ensembles, so education is something that the ensembles are actively thinking about, and certainly CMA as an organisation wants to really nurture that.”

On The Terrace is an award-winning free event that can be enjoyed by families of all ages, and the benefit of holding it in these venues along North Terrace is how easy it will be to abide by social distancing.

“With this format of event it’s easy to manage social distancing so people do feel safe. That’s another advantage of chamber music – it was designed for small audiences and small rooms so it can be performed with smaller capacity crowds. It’s so flexible. It’s been really heartening to see how these ensembles have bounced back into performance mode after the dry period of COVID.”

On The Terrace is a great initiative for both seasoned and new classical fans. Gather the family together, make a trip to North Terrace, and soak in the glorious sounds and sights that our city and cultural precinct has to offer.

Chamber Music Adelaide’s On The Terrace
Sunday 15 November – 11am – 4pm
North Terrace Cultural Precinct, venues include The Art Gallery of South Australia, SA
Museum, State Library, The University of Adelaide and the Migration museum.

For more information please visit: www.chambermusicadelaide.com.au

Interview by Ben Stefanoff

More News

To Top