Impressions: Colours, Heart, and Imagination

June 12, 2018










Dr. Andrew Filmer
Co-Curator for Educational Programming





The idea of all things “Impressionistic” comes to us from composers like Claude Debussy, who brought new colours to music in the same way that painters brought new hues to canvases. The term goes back to another Claude: Claude Monet, with an exhibition of his 1872 work Impression, Sunrise. Today, it is proudly displayed in Paris as one of the most iconic works in history, with the melancholy oils muting a sunrise and evoking not only emotion in its aesthetic, but imagination as well.








That achievement is the same artistic goal we have in music, that is not limited to producing an authentic emotional representation of a composition. We also aim to invite an imagination that lets each listener take home something personal from a shared community experience.

That’s the inspirational part. I also like a darker side to the history of Impressionism. The murky mystery of Monet’s work contrasted so much with the realism of art that came before, that not everyone appreciated such a shift in direction. It is from Louis Leroy’s snarky criticism that we coined the term:


Impression – I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it... and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.



As it turns out, the painting stood better the test of time than the test of knee-jerk reaction.



This tells us about the task of the artist and the mission of the artiste, in provoking thought, turning insult to legacy, and above all: being true to oneself. Our duty is not to play it safe –  our job is not to take the easiest path to a positive reaction even as we cater to those from whom we ask help in making art possible. Instead, we forge new trails, we draw new boundaries, we take risks for the shared good – the same as the role of the intellectual, the role of the citizen and the voter, something certainly resonant with the trailblazing path of the JB folks who bring these festivals to you, and to me. The faith lies in the pureness of heart: that if we truly believe in what we do, you’ll see, hear, and sense it. We try to have that here at our Festival, and we hope that we are successful at creating an impression.












Diversity is a hallmark of Dr Andrew Filmer’s career, with expertise in viola performance, musicology, and publication. As a performer, his interests range from the use of period bows, to collaborations with contemporary composers, and conducting.




 Andrew is a member of the Sutera Ensemble, was guest leader of Ensemble Virama, and performs in a trio with violinist Mabel Wong and pianist Robin Lee. Andrew holds a PhD from the University of Otago, where he was a New Zealand International Doctoral Scholar, and a master’s degree in viola performance from Indiana University at South Bend, where he was also on a full scholarship. He is a lecturer at Sunway University, and was previously at Universiti Putra Malaysia.




Additionally, Andrew holds the positions of Consultant to the Australian and New Zealand Viola Society, Advisor of Musica Sinfonietta Penang, and Associate of the Euroasia Association of Performing Arts. He was the first non-American to be appointed to the position of Editor of Journal of the American Viola Society in the publication’s 30-year history.






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