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Cross-over artist: Lior celebrates his passion for compassion

Culture

Singer-songwriter Lior’s debut album Autumn Flow is one of the most successful independent debuts in Australian history. Now he lives part-time in the indie world and part-time in the classical world, performing his symphonic song cycle Compassion with classical ensemble Camerata across Queensland.*

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*Lior’s performance has been postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne.

Camerata will still welcome audiences to a performance on the same day with a revised program that will feature much of the same work originally planned including Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue, Turina’s sensual Bullfighter’s Prayer, Steve Reich’s minimalist Duet, and the world premiere of Beyond the Front Door by Queensland composer, John Rotar.

The concert has been renamed Camerata Re-Mastered, and will also feature a 2021 composition of Little Corellas by Camerata’s founding leader Cameron Patrick.

 

The multi-award winning work is a symphony of songs based off ancient Islamic and Judaic texts which weave together a story of the importance of empathy and compassion across religion, race, and the breadth of human experience.

Lior came to prominence in 2004 after independently releasing his debut studio album following a string of rejections from record labels. Autumn Flow went Platinum and became one of the most successful independent debuts in Australian music.

Never shying from a challenge, Lior began his foray into classical arrangements in 2013, creating Compassion with composer Nigel Westlake as part of a song cycle commissioned by Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

“It happened organically rather than me making a decision to cross over into the world of classical music. When I started recording my second album, I wanted to involve a string orchestra to give the album a richer and more lush musical landscape,” Lior told InQueensland.

“Following from that, I met Nigel Westlake, which is when I began working with a composer to write something more adventurous that was specifically for an orchestra and would sit in the classical world,” he said.

Lior and Nigel Westlake went on to win the ARIA for ‘Best Classical Album’ in 2014 for Compassion.

Having written and performed Compassion for many years, Lior told InQueensland that moving between both genres of music has allowed him to refine his ability as a musician.

“I’ve learnt so much about dedication, subtlety and nuance, but also about the detrimental aspects of rigidness. Stepping in to perform in the classical world has been interesting because I could observe it as an outsider rather than as someone who grew up in that world,” he said.

“I could take what I found useful and interesting and leave what I wasn’t attracted to. All in all, there is no doubt that the sophistication inherent in the classical world is astonishing. To have been welcomed to perform Compassion within it has been beautiful and humbling.”

He said that the lessons of Compassion are just as poignant now as they were eight years ago, when it was first written.

“One of the ancient texts of ‘Compassion’ translates to: “Compassion does not enter into anything without beautifying it, and is not removed from anything without making it ugly,” he said.

“The reality is that we always need compassion to be the place where we start from. I believe it to be the central trait that defines what it is to be human and the foundation of the potential that lies within us all.

“Each text within the work presents a beautiful angle on the wisdom of compassion. They are profound mantras to hold on to, particularly in moments of weakness.

“Working together with Nigel has enabled me to present them to people in a universal and spiritual way. We all need to be reminded of compassion and I believe this is one of the crucial functions of art and music.”

Lior told InQueensland that being able to perform the work over many years has allowed a real refinement of the performance.

“Fortunately Compassion has had a rich and diverse life. The fact that Nigel and I have been given several opportunities to perform it with orchestras both in Australia and abroad has given us the chance to refine it over a long period of time,” said Lior.

“We have been able to focus on subtleties and craft both the composition and performance to the slightest detail. Even though these tweaks may seem unnoticeable, they are felt.”

Compassion will be comprised of five works, beginning with Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue (Grand Fugue) which has been described as a testament to “the human capacity for meaning”.

This will be followed by The Bullfighter’s Prayer by Joaquin Turina, Steve Reich’s Duet for Two Violences and String Orchestra, and the penultimate work which will be an exploration of the isolation of 2020 through John Rotar’s Beyond the Front Door.

The final piece will then be Compassion with special guest Lior.

Camerata will perform two shows with Lior in Toowoomba and Brisbane on June 3 and June 5. For more information, visit QPAC’s website. 

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