Nat Bartsch

Melbourne Recital Centre announces Merlyn Myer Music Commission 2021

Melbourne Recital Centre is delighted to announce the recipient of the Merlyn Myer Music Commission 2021: Melbourne pianist and composer Nat Bartsch.

The Merlyn Myer Music Commission was initiated to celebrate the work of Australian female composers in collaboration with Melbourne Recital Centre. Nat’s new work, ‘Glasshouse’, will receive its world premiere on 25 November 2021 when it is performed by award-winning chamber music group, Inventi Ensemble.

The Centre’s Director of Programming, Marshall McGuire says:

‘This proposal captured the interest and imagination of the panel, intrigued by the musical and visual possibilities the composer described. The influence of this mid-nineteenth century photographer on the composer is strong, and the musical response proposed is one of reflection, of memory, of celebration.’

Nat Bartsch explains her project:

‘I sit at the piano and laptop, joined onstage by members of the Inventi Ensemble playing oboe, flute, violin and cello. We create a slowly evolving, whimsical, impressionistic sound-world in several movements, each responding to a different photograph. This through-composed work blends contemporary classical composition, improvisation and ambient electronics. The suite celebrates the work of this early photographer and her female subjects, in a world-first musical medium. It explores themes of femininity, fragility, the natural world, relationships and white privilege.’

About Nat Bartsch

Nat Bartsch is an ARIA-nominated Melbourne pianist and composer. She is an ABC recording artist, privileged to release music for both their Classic and Jazz labels. Nat has received numerous awards including the Melbourne Prize for Music (Development Award), Lionel Gell Travelling Fellowship, Johnny Dennis Music Award and Catherine Mary Sullivan Composer Scholarship. After many years as a jazz artist, she has slowly transitioned to a career as a classical composer. She has written acclaimed commissions for Plexus, Muses Trio (for the ABC Fresh Start Fund), Matt Withers & Sally Whitwell and Solstice Trio.

Nat is most well known for her lullabies (her classical album ‘Forever, and No Time At All’ and the 2020 ARIA nominated jazz re-interpretation ‘Forever More’) which have been streamed millions of times, and support people in vulnerable and personal moments – from the birthing suite to the final hours of life. Nat has released six albums of original music and toured domestically and internationally, as well as working with artists from a wide range of contemporary genres. She is currently completing her Masters in composition at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music with Stuart Greenbaum.

About Glasshouse

‘The Glasshouse’, is to be a suite, in response to the portraits of Victorian-era female photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. The work will be performed by Nat Bartsch and Inventi Ensemble and will feature several impressionistic movements, each connected to various portraits projected on the walls of the Primrose Potter Salon.

Cameron’s evocative, Pre-Raphaelite style is aesthetically very aligned with Bartsch’s lyrical, neo-Romantic approach to composition and performance. Having visited the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2013, Bartsch was given special access to Cameron’s photographs for research for this work. Cameron is not very well known, despite being considered one of the most innovative portrait photographers of the 19th century. Her photographs of women and children are of particular interest to Bartsch, whose aim in writing this work is to draw attention to Cameron’s photography and explore themes related to the natural world, fragility, femininity and white privilege.