Like many in the audience, I never knew Mary Rodoreda, in whose memory Elena Kats-Chernin’s Ave Maria was written, following a commission for West Australian Symphony Orchestra by Mary’s son, Dr Paul Rodoreda.

Elena Kats-Chernin

Elena Kats-Chernin with Sara Macliver, Fiona Campbell and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, 2022. Photo © Adrian Thomson

But such was the empathic if occasionally disquieting effect of this world premiere performance, that by the end of the concert one had an expanded portrait, which encompassed the world before Mary (Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture) and the world after (Sibelius’s Second Symphony). And I felt like I at least knew what she meant to those who did know her. And what music meant to her.

Six short movements, melody-riven and crisply orchestrated: three wordless but still sung (superfluously, perhaps?); two with texts by Tamara-Anna Cislowska; one a partial setting of the Ave Maria.

Evocations of river and sea. (Ballina, Mary’s birthplace – but why did I recall the serenity of Yeats’ “bee-loud glade” here? Perhaps the susurrating strings?) The bustling A Life Travelled. Bird on the Bench:...