Thomas Forrest (c.1729–c.1802) and Corelli’s Music in Aceh, Sumatra
Lecture-Recital by David R. M. Irving
with Paul McMahon, Skye McIntosh, Tommie Andersson, and Neal Peres da Costa
12.30pm, Tuesday November 5, 2013
The British navigator and musician Thomas Forrest (c.1729–c.1802) was an eccentric and unusual character in the complex history of intercultural exchange in early modern Southeast Asia. During his travels around the Malay Archipelago between 1764 and 1784, he composed Malay songs, played the flute at Muslim wedding ceremonies, explained European staff notation, gave violins as gifts, transcribed and played back local music, and even sang a duet with the wife of a local ruler. He spoke fluent Malay, sailed with Malay crews, and engaged in unmediated dialogue with many people on many different islands. He seems to have been regarded affectionately by diverse groups of local people, some of whom dubbed him “Kapitan Gila” (“the mad captain”). This lecture-recital will discuss some key dimensions of the role of music in early modern intercultural exchange and diplomacy, and will showcase the modern world-premiere of “A Malay Song” by Thomas Forrest. This work is one of Forrest’s Malay poems, which he set to his own arrangement of a melody by Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713) and sang before Sultan Ala’uddin Muhammad Shah of Aceh, Sumatra, in 1784. The piece has been studied and edited by David R. M. Irving, and will be performed by Paul McMahon, one of Australia’s leading tenors, accompanied by an ensemble of two violins (David Irving and Skye McIntosh), guitar (Tommie Andersson), and harpsichord (Neal Peres da Costa).
For full event information please visit the Global Corelli listing.