AWARD-winning Southern Cross University contemporary music graduate Yantra de Vilder is making a special return to the Northern Rivers this weekend for a concert series with internationally renowned Australian concert pianist, David Helfgott.
David will play a program of virtuosic piano works including Rachmaninov, Liszt and Beethoven, while Yantra will play her improvisations on a Steinway, against a backdrop of abstract photography (entitled 'The Art of Nature' by Candida Baker) projected on the big screen at the Byron Community Centre on Saturday, 17 March, at 7.30pm, and Sunday, 18 March, at 2pm.
"I am just emerging from an amazing time composing with David.
"The composing process is wonderful and I feel privileged to be part of such an exciting collaboration," Ms de Vilder said.
"David's fluidity and expansive repertoire of patterns and musical ideas makes him an incredibly versatile player and as composing is a new direction for him I believe that we are at the start of something really exciting.
"One of the fascinating qualities of this work together is the development and journey aspect of the compositions.
"For example, we may commence a piece in quite a reflective and soft style, and yet in a seamless way move through to dramatic and passionate piece.
"It is all planned, as David says, and my job is to trust that and keep available to the bigger picture."
Ms de Vilder graduated from the University in 1991 where she majored in music composition.
"Southern Cross University was a fertile ground for developing and nurturing my creativity," Ms de Vilder, who now lives in the NSW Central Coast, said.
"I came to SCU as a mature age student after working in the industry for a number of years.
"I wanted to dive deeper into composition and the Northern Rivers was the perfect place to go to have a beach culture life style whilst furthering my musical life."
In 2010 Ms de Vilder was awarded best instrumental composition for the prestigious International JD Music Awards and last year she was a finalist at the International Acoustic Music Awards, and nominated for an ABC music award and an APRA/AGSC screen music award.
She is a recipient of the Australian Post Graduate award and is currently doing her Doctorate in Creative Arts at the University of Western Sydney.
The upcoming concert series with David Helfgott forms part of the research and composition component for her doctorate.
"My academic work has always sailed along beside my industry and artistic pursuits and this continues to be at the heart of my career," Ms de Vilder said.
Ms de Vilder was a guest at the CSIRO Futurists Conference in Melbourne last year, and she also has teamed up with the neuroscience department at Newcastle University to further her research into the power of music and sound on human consciousness.
For this program she devised a series of experiments that combined music and visuals.
This interdisciplinary approach now informs much of Ms de Vilder 's work.
David Helfgott will embark on a European tour after completing the series of Australian concerts with Yantra.
One of the highlights will be celebrating his 65th birthday on May 19 with a special guest appearance at The Life Ball, an AIDS fundraiser in Vienna, with around 40,000 people expected to attend.
Mr Helfgott is also exploring the therapeutic benefits of music. Along with wife Gillian Helfgott, he is working with Curtin University PhD student Jeremy Marriott on the value of music in treating autistic children, with Mr Helfgott recording music specifically for the research program.