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Spring has sprung! It’s that time of year when everything seems to come alive. To honour this season of renewal, we’ve put together a playlist that captures the essence of spring in simple, melodious tunes. These songs are the perfect companions for your sunny walks, picnics, or moments of quiet reflection in the garden. Here, MSO Violinist Philippa West looks at how music, and its connection to spring, can help put a spring in your step.

I have always enjoyed that buzz that awakens us as Spring starts to rouse us from a winter dormancy. Daylight gently coaxes us out of bed a little earlier each day, along with the natter of birds and their chicks, and the late August sunshine and wind creates electricity in the air. Walking down the street neighbours once again greet you with a smile as eyes are wider taking in the blooming buds from the trees, an explosion of colour in gardens, and lungs are filled with the intoxicatingly fresh Spring air.

When asked to create a playlist to celebrate Spring I found myself not only trying to capture this excitement of real time Spring 2023, but by looking to the past and finding relevance in the symbolism of Springtime in how we evolve and continue to spark joy in our creative selves. As a school art student, I remember viewing a marble sculpture, "The First Breath of Spring" by Harold Parker at the Queensland Art Gallery. Referring to the ancient Greek Myth, it depicts Persephone, daughter of Zeus, as a young woman who is taken to the Underworld and is allowed to return for a short time each year. A breathtakingly beautiful figure seen as a symbol of re-birth, it is a wonderful representation of Spring in the marking of time, and viewing the pristine beauty that growth brings. To this day I never fail to be taken by its aura of freshness.

My playlist draws from influences over the years, from hearing a fresh interpretation of classic works, or the realisation that inspiration from nature could help guide you through the billion notes you are struggling to get your fingers around. From my Dad gearing my sisters and I to get out the door in the morning by bellowing a tune, to sitting on stage mid concert and experiencing the joy of an artist's encore, or happily driving along with kids belting out the latest 'cool' song, these tracks all release the chemicals that give you a spring in your step, a glowing hug, or just pure joy in heralding the arrival of Spring!

Pip's Songs That Celebrate Spring

Chopin- 12 Etudes, Op. 25: No. 2

Although a violinist by trade, the piano has always had a strong presence in my life. Including Chopin on my list was essential as I've always been struck by the poetry in his music. Although an etude with its set of pianistic challenges, in Op. 25, No. 2 known as 'The Bees', Chopin has managed to veil the difficulty of polyrhythms, sonorous tonality, and a quietly busy right hand to depict the working bees buzzing through a meadow. Nelson Freire's sparkling and delicate sound brings this etude to life.

Recomposed By Max Richter- Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: Spring 0,1

Part of the joy of being a musician is the sharing of ideas and collaboration of many art forms to create an experience for all the senses for both artists and audience. I'll always remember the first time I joined the stage as part of MSO with CIRCA, the incredible contemporary circus company. Max Richter's Recomposed was one work which seemed a perfect choice not only to articulate the freedom to explore what's possible on the traditional concert platform with finely tuned acrobatic and trapeze artists soaring above the orchestra, but also to hear fragments of Vivaldi's Spring re-imagined with a contemporary freshness.

Delibes- Lakme, Act 1: Duo des fleurs. "Viens, Mallika"

To me this work presents the idea of how some music is timeless. Although the notes are written in the score, each time it is played, interpretation not only is about what the listener can open their ears and heart to, but relies on something less quantifiable. The first time I heard this duet was on TV watching the old British Airways ad. I found it glorious in every respect. The first time I played it was as a violin duet in an elaborate setting to mark the opening of a Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. Even with just two violins, its simplicity of line was equally glorious. It wasn't until I experienced the full glory of the entire opera in context playing in the pit as a member of Orchestra Victoria. Although having now heard and played the flower duet countless times, Delibes manages to bring a smile and a sense of innocent joy each and every time.

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