NEW ensemble The Klara Kollektiv may have been formed in Sweden, but the trio and its programme has a deep Kiwi connection.
Featuring New Zealanders Anna McGregor (clarinet) and Manu Berkeljon (violin), along with Swedish pianist Taru Kurki, the ensemble will perform at the Civic Theatre on Tuesday and have created a programme which features the work of two New Zealand composers – Anthony Ritchie and Douglas Lilburn.
McGregor said the Ritchie composition was a New Zealand premiere on this tour and they were looking forward to bringing it to the stage.
“It’s really nice for us to have the opportunity to play Anthony Ritchie’s trio, because he’s written it just for us.
“We’re looking forward to meeting him again and playing it for him for the first time.”
McGregor said the work was very atmospheric, and was inspired by Ritchie’s trip to Sweden in 2016. Ritchie visited the ensemble and he undertook a composer residency on the island of Gotland.
McGregor said Ritchie was inspired by stones from the Viking era which were engraved with stories – leading to the work’s name Picture Stone.
“He’s kind of imagining a Viking child and… the adventures the child might have through their life.”
McGregor said the ensemble also had other compositions by Ritchie in its repertoire which they were performing in other centres.
“We’re going to meet and record it in Wellington and put together an album of New Zealand music for our ensemble.”
To be produced by Rattle Records, she said it would also include the sonatina for clarinet and piano by Lilburn, which also features in the programme.
“[The sonatina] has hardly been recorded, we took the opportunity to make sure that gets recorded on CD.”
McGregor said the combination of violin, clarinet and piano was historically less common as an ensemble.
“It’s surprising, when we decided to form a trio, violin, clarinet and piano, I really expected that there would be a lot of repertoires, but the trios that are written for clarinet by Brahms and Beethoven include cello instead of violin. So really the most important repertoire for this particular ensemble is from the 20th century.
“We have Bartok and Khachaturian, and there are some other good pieces, but we’re very happy that Anthony’s written something, because it can’t hurt to have more pieces for this combination.”
She said the programme for this concert was also good because it meant the musicians got to play as much as possible as a trio.
McGregor said the ensemble was formed in 2016 and was a continuation of her and Berkeljon’s work together as part of the Dalecarlia Clarinet Quintet.
The members of the ensemble lived in different parts of Sweden, so McGregor said she would travel for five or six hours on the train to be able to rehearse with Berkeljon and Kurki on her days off from her full-time job in a professional orchestra.
“It’s quite intensive, but it’s really worth it.
“It’s really important for Manu and I to come home to New Zealand… Chamber Music New Zealand has been really big in helping us.”
McGregor said she hoped audiences would come with open ears and open hearts and not be afraid of new music.
“[Ritchie’s composition is] very rhythmic, it’s very harmonic, it’s very melodic and it’s very likeable. We hope they come.”