What's On Upcoming Events2023 / 2024

Variations on Goldberg Variations (Keyed Up! #1)

Main Stage

J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations is one of the most famous works in the Western canon. Our Variations on the Goldberg Variations reflects on Bach’s singular achievement through a contemporary lens. In the first half of the program, four living Canadian composers each write 7-8 variations for a total of 30 new variations, each preceded by a rendition of Bach’s original. The composers represent not only a diversity of aesthetics, but the newly-composed variations will alternate continuously between piano, harpsichord, organ and electronic keyboard. J.S. would have loved it!

In the second half, the distinguished Australian composer and pianist Paul Grabowsky returns to Soundstreams nearly a decade after appearing with his boundary-breaking Australian Art Orchestra. This time he creates his own extraordinary, jazz-inflected response to Bach’s eternally beautiful theme. Performed 36 times across Australia last season, The Sydney Arts Guide had this to say: “In this improvisation, jazz gesturing alternated with hand-crossing, complex filigree. Paul Grabowsky’s playing was effectively reminiscent of Bach’s ecstatic workings in his thirty variations.”


Improvisations on the Aria
from Bach’s Goldberg
Composed & Performed by Paul Grabowsky

Four commissions for the
Variations on Goldberg
Taylor Brook: Variations 1-8: Variations: eight variations on J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations I-VIII for keyboards
Dorothy Chang: Variations 9-15:
Variation 9: Bach Appears in a Dream
Variation 10: Bach Takes a Walk
Variation 11: Bach Dancing with Joy
Variation 12: Bach Floating on Air
Variation 13: Bach, in Bright Sunlight
Variation 14: Bach’s Obsession
Variation 15: Bach Descends
Emily Doolittle:
Variations 16-23: Varia8 variations on Bach’s Goldberg Variations for assorted keyboards
André Ristic: Variations 24-30: 7 Variaddictions to the Goldberg Variations

Paul Grabowsky – piano
Jackie Leung – piano
Wesley Shen – harpsichord
Gregory Oh – electronic keyboard
John Paul Farahat – digital organ