An introduction to Questing Spirit, the Duo of Anne Norman & Peter Hagen
"These instruments echo a time when musicians were dedicated to grace, style, beauty and in the case of the shakuhachi, profound meditation... it was a tour-de-force of virtuoso technique and also a taste of future possibilities" Border Mail, Wodonga 2001
Questing Spirit - the duo of Anne Norman & Peter Hagen - have developed a program presenting three strands of music - Baroque, Japanese & contemporary Australian - in an exciting and complimentary programme. To their knowledge, this is the only duo of harpsichord & shakuhachi on the planet, and to the delight of audiences, the timbres of the harpsichord and shakuhachi blend beautifully. Anne & Peter have commissioned Australian composers to write for the duo, and audiences have responded very enthusiastically to these new works. In addition to Australian duo pieces, Anne performs Baroque works on her expressive bamboo flute, while Peter has invented some stunning performance techniques on the harpsichord in imitation of the microtonal inflections of the shakuhachi. At the end of their performances, members of the audience generally swamp the performers with questions, wanting to know more about the instruments and music presented.
In 2002, Questing Spirit were invited by the Asia Society AustralAsia Centre to perform at a dinner in Sydney to honour the visiting Prime Minister of Japan Junichiro KOIZUMI. Questing Spirit have also been invited to perform in New York at the International Shakuhachi Festival in July 2004. They are currently recording a 30 minute suite by composer Dindy Vaughan to be included in a CD of her compositions, and have plans to make their own CD. The Australia Asia Foundation have recorded one track by Questing Spirit, released on their CD entitled Scent of Time.
Questing Spirit have performed in many venues throughout Victoria and South Australia (their 2001 Victorian tour being assisted by an Arts Victoria Touring Grant). The duo's preference for intimate venues with lively acoustics has seen them perform in halls, art galleries and churches. Where possible, the harpsichord is placed in the middle of the performance space with lid removed, and the audience arranged in a circle around the performers. Performing in the round creates an intimate feel, and frees Anne to perform at different points within the space, and indeed wander about, giving the audience various sonic and visual perspectives on the music presented. "We believe this is the best way to experience chamber music - up close."
"An evening of beautiful music" The Boite, Melbourne.
"I drove 100kms to get to this concert, and it was worth every centimeter" audience member in Hamilton, Victoria.
"We were both transported by the sheer beauty of the music, and by the sensitive and erudite commentary by both the musicians. As two people with Celtic and European background, combined with a long interest in Buddhism, we were fascinated by the musical fusing of the two cultures." John & Jenny Adams, Philip Island 2001.
"I loved the unusual combination of sounds, which was a new experience for me and at times almost bringing tears to my eyes." Jenny Sharp, Philip Island 2001.
I was dubious about the combination of shakuhachi and harpsichord until I heard it. Now I'm a convert. Especially as Peter has developed a range of glissando techniques for the harpsichord that remove it from the exclusive realm of the baroque. Warren Burt, Shakuhachi Australis II, 2002.