Introducing Croissants & Whiskey

2022 Continuo Composer Kym Dillon has chosen Croissants & Whiskey as the ensemble for whom she will compose the commissioned work.

Curious about the name? We asked Miranda Hill to tell us how the group was formed, and how it got its name. Here’s what she sent:

“Croissants & Whiskey, the unlikely pairing that combines the crispness of good pastry with the smooth aftertaste of a well-aged spirit. In musical terms, it brings together the established beauty and earthiness of baroque instruments with new ideas, cultural diversity, and timbral explorations.

“This ensemble was a dream project, conceived of during those long winter lockdowns in Melbourne when everyone was free, and yet no one could gather to play any music. So in lieu of actual rehearsals, we started to muse on the ideal group to break this imposed drought with; what music are we longing for, and what will be restorative both personally and musically after so long apart? This dream-team was founded by Miranda Hill (G violone), asking Joy Lee (harpsichord), Ryan Williams (recorders) and Katie Yap (baroque viola) to form a prog baroque quartet. There is one surviving work for this instrumentation from the baroque period by C.P.E. Bach, however, the main aims of our quartet are to commission new works from diverse Australian voices, and to write our own music as a collective.

“We were fortunate to receive a grant from the City of Melbourne Covid-19 Arts Grants, which commissioned Victorian composer Louisa Trewartha to write our first work, to be premiered at Homophonic! 2021. Rehearsals were scheduled, and then cancelled. The shows were scheduled, and the festival was cancelled. Rehearsals were attempted online but quickly abandoned… so when we finally got to our first rehearsal in person it had been literally 11 months in the planning! And it was even better than we’d imagined.

“It was 11 am on a Thursday. Miranda had brought croissants for morning tea, Joy has a good collection of Whiskey… it was inevitable. These joyous post rehearsal libations have become a strong tradition, and have come to represent our commitment to celebrating what each instrument and musician can bring to the table, and the beautiful combination of our diverse experiences and musical backgrounds.

“We’re bringing the fusion to your aural palette! and by commissioning, performing, and composing new music for baroque instruments we can fully explore this collaboration. Thanks to the generous support from the Continuo Commissioning Circle we are really excited to work with Kym Dillon on developing a new work for the quartet, and have already discussed some great ideas for the commission to be premiered in 2023.

“If this has whetted your appetite for new Australian compositions for baroque instruments, we’ve got our debut performance coming up on the 23 July at the Leaps and Bounds + Beyond Festival in Melbourne. The performance will feature skilful commissions written for us by exciting young Australian composers, including Louisa Trewartha and Emily Sheppard; a classic Nigel Butterly, with world premieres by Ryan Williams and Elizabeth Younan. The Fertile Crescent by Younan is a riotous whirl of Lebanese dances reimagined for western baroque instruments, commissioned and recorded for release by ABC Classic. (There’s also some sneaky CPE Bach and Couperin in there to round off the palette like a nicely aged Scotch in a wine barrel.)”

You can hear and see Croissants & Whiskey play the work by Louisa Trewartha in the video below.