Vienna Dreaming has been a work in progress by saxophonist and composer Matt Keegan for a number of years. He has composed this suite of music around the life of his great grandfather, Heini Portnoj. Heini, himself a musician and composer, became a refuge from his home in Vienna, when Austria was annexed by the Nazis in the 1930s. He escaped to Australia with his wife Annie and her child Elizabeth, Matt Keegan’s maternal grandmother. Matt recorded the suite , which then consisted of six pieces, in 2018. It was released on CD as Vienna Dreaming but has not previously been performed live.
Matt is now giving the first live performance of the suite as part of the SIMA Summer season, Jazz Now, at Mary’s Underground on February 28th. And he has added new pieces to the suite, focussing on Heini’s experiences of living in Australia.
Mick Paddon interviewed Matt about how he transposed a family narrative into a suite of music and about the live performance of the new version of the suite. Part way through the interview, we hear a piece from recorded suite, the Femina, Matt’s imagining of the Viennese club where Heine was musical director for 9 years. At the end of the interview we hear a more sombre piece from the suite, the Not Knowing, expressing the thoughts and emotions a refuge will have experienced leaving family and friends behind.
The interview was first broadcast on Mick’ s weekly show on Eastside radio, Time and Space, on February 18th.