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Spring at the Primrose Potter Salon

22 August 2023

The Primrose Potter Salon is more than a venue; it is a tapestry woven from the threads of music and heritage. As a smaller enclave within the larger tapestry of Melbourne Recital Centre, the Salon provides an acoustically rich space for events that nurture emerging and upcoming talent. Opulent and versatile, the Salon is a veritable jewel in Melbourne’s performance crown.

From August to October, the salon will deliver an impressive catalogue of musical performances. The season will commence on August 26th with a joint performance by Australian musicians, Eliza Hull and Liz Martin. Although individually their music is quite different, together the two achieve sonic equilibrium, arresting the audience in an acoustic trance. Their Salon performance, Into the Space Between the Notes, will open with Martin’s “stripped back set”, which “allows her songs to really breathe”. Hull will then perform with her whole band, making the most of the Salon’s “beautiful acoustics and grand piano”.

On September 28th, the Salon will play host to JG Thirlwell, a distinguished New York-based producer, composer, and mixer who has engaged in collaborations with an array of artists, among them Nine Inch Nails, Nick Cave, and Karen O. Thirlwell will perform his critically acclaimed electro-acoustic project, Silver Mantis. The 50-minute immersive presentation includes exclusive projections and live surround sound. Also set to grace the stage in September is the acclaimed violinist, Xani Kolac. Having earned the prestigious title of ‘Best Musician’ at the esteemed 2022 Music Victoria Awards, Kolac is poised to present an extraordinary interpretation of her piece, Xani Makes.

The show will blend electronic dance music with elements of folk, jazz, experimental metal, and Celtic traditions. This “aligns with [her] mission to continuously genre-bend and innovate with contemporary violin.” “There are fewer contemporary violinists than traditional classical violinists, so part of my practise involves breaking new ground and forging new paths for contemporary violin paedagogy", she explains. For audiences unfamiliar with Xani’s work, expect a night of joy and community: “All of my live music performances are most importantly about connection. Connecting to an audience, to each other, to the music and artists that have come before me, and even to electronics. Every performance I do is fuelled by creative energy and improvisation, joy, melody, and growth.”

On October 17th, the Salon will then host ARIA-nominated pianist and composer, Nat Bartsch. After being awarded ‘Jazz Work of the Year’ at the Art Music Awards in 2023, Bartsch is returning to Melbourne to perform her latest album, Hope Renewed. Fans of Bartsch will know that the performance is a re-imagining of her 2021 ARIA award-winning album, Hope.

While Hope was performed with a string quartet, Hope Renewed “is performed like a jazz gig”, incorporating elements of jazz and post-rock. Intricate and immersive, the performance is a patchwork of sound. Of the album Bartsch explains: “My jazz quartet recorded the pieces first, but then I composed chamber music (harp, strings, saxophones) which was overdubbed on top, weaving around our improvisations. Later came ambient effects and samples. So, the result is like a mosaic, reflecting our post-Covid world, where everything feels so enormous.” The album’s “maximalist aesthetic” reflects the optimistic attitudes of our time. “You’ll hear guitar, piano, ambient electronics, double bass, drums, and special guest Mary Doumany on harp. If you like the music of European jazz label ECM, the genre-bending of Sufjan Stevens, or the post-rock anthems of Sigur Ros, I hope you’ll find some of these influences in our music”, shares Bartsch.

Brother Asanti and Soulectric, a newfound Melbourne band, will take the Primrose Potter Stage on October 19th. Grounded in their Melbourne roots, the duo have performed at various events around the city. In 2022, the band performed for the UpClose Yarra Sessions (their performances are still available to watch on YouTube) and featured in the Melbourne Now series. They also participated in the 2023 Firelight Festival at Docklands. Drawing inspiration from Africa and the underground dance scenes of New York and Chicago, Soulectric celebrates culture and the fluidity of music. For the duo, “Every show is a unique experience, influenced by the atmosphere, the crowd’s energy, and even my own emotions that day. I feed off the energy of the audience, adapting my performance to create an electric atmosphere.”

Tickets to the Primrose Potter Salon performances can be purchased here.

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SEE ISSUE #06 HERE. The theme for this issue, Revelations, delves into the unfiltered aspects of life. It’s an appreciation and exploration of raw beauty, where authenticity reigns supreme; the unconventional is not just accepted but celebrated. In a world of manufactured perfection, this issue chooses to validate our quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all, they are what make us inimitable.

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