by Kristanna Sutton

It won’t just be the ghost stories of Boggo Road Gaol giving you goosebumps and spine tingles when the Muses Trio bringing their virtuosic classical performance to the former women’s cellblock.

One of many unconventional performance locations for this year’s Anywhere Festival, the trio of ladies – Christa Powell (violin), Louise King (cello) and Therese Millanovic (piano) – launch their debut CD, ‘The Spirit And The Maiden’ at the Gaol. A compilation of the talented trio’s renditions of female composers, past and present, Therese says the CD tells the unique stories of the women who wrote the music. “We celebrate music composed and performed by women, and a lot of the women that we’ve featured have been imprisoned in some way, particularly women from the past.

“One of the composers, Amy Beach, was a wonderful young composer and after she married her doctor husband, she was forbidden to perform or compose. After he died, she set at it with a vengeance and really had a rich career. Those stories are quite common.”

Embracing industry women is a critical element of the production, as the trio are passionate about “highlighting some of the issues” women continue to face in the creative industries in particular. With this in mind, the ladies only thought it perfect to collaborate with Brisbane’s own Vulcana Women’s Circus for the performance. Showcasing their talents during the trio’s performances, Therese hopes the all-female troupe will bring a innovative, visual element to the performance space.

“We’re really looking forward to this collaboration… To me, interdisciplinary collaborations bring a fresh insight into understanding the music, and also vice versa, into understanding the circus and physical theatre.

“Some people are very visual and when they listen to music they see images, whereas other people might have smells or memories evoking for them. I think if you see the music expressed in a different way, it can also change your interpretation.”

Though Therese stresses: “We’re not scary feminists and we certainly don’t want men to feel they’re not involved and they’re not welcome, because that’s not the case at all… In any industry, it’s about the quality of the performance, whether you’re male or female.”

Bringing their classical performance to inside the gaol walls has been Therese’s vision for quite some time, and thanks to the Anywhere Festival, the difficulties of bringing a grand piano into the cellblock have been resolved. Therese has embraced the festival’s unexpected performance spaces and has encouraged her views on the importance of public inclusiveness in the arts.

“Today it’s more and more important to take music, and the arts in general, away from the very formal, big concert halls in the middle of town. I believe some people are perhaps intimidated by the idea of going to places like QPAC, and a different venue can allow a different way in.

“In that sense, I think [Anywhere Festival] is a brilliant initiative to bring into Brisbane. I really love discovering little hideaways and new venues and it’s a great way for people to think creatively.”

Unfortunately, the Muses Trio’s performance will be one of the last opportunities to experience music within the walls of Boggo Road Gaol, as the precinct is set to be redeveloped with bars, cafés and restaurants in the modern parts of gaol later this year.

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