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Totally Huge: landscape/soundscape

Andrew Beck


This year’s Totally Huge New Music Festival begins over the Easter break with Drums in the Outback on Wogarno Station, a working sheep property 600 kilometres north-east of Perth. This is the second mini-festival at the station, following last year’s successful Violins in the Outback which featured Jon Rose performing and conducting his Violin Factory. This year sees a further commitment to regional performance with Hannah Clemen and Steve Richter conducting percussion workshops amongst the locals. The results will be incorporated into the main performance line-up on the Saturday evening.

The highlight of the weekend will be Clocked Out Duo (Vanessa Tomlinson and Erik Griswold) in collaboration with Chinese composer Zou Xianping and choreographer Zhang Ping, both from Chengdu in China’s south-western Sichuan province. Tomlinson and Griswold returned from Chengdu in February this year after working with Zou and Zhang for 3 months. This collaboration has yielded a cross-cultural, cross-genre perspective on contemporary performance—incorporating video, electronica, traditional and modified instruments, dance and mock ma jiang.

Over the past month the country media have been carrying “wanted” ads for distressed pianos. Ross Bolleter plans to revisit his improvised vocal and percussion piece based on the Ruined Piano of Cue. Bolleter’s performances, which range from avant-folk to hauntingly and reverberantly intimate, will contrast with the massed percussion of Freo Samba’s forty strong group of drummers, dancers and pyro-acrobats.

Other artists performing throughout the weekend are to be scattered across the countryside surrounding the homestead at locations like Lizard Rock, Blue Hill and The Wires. New installations by Alan Lamb, Rob Muir and Alex Hayes will occupy the outback landscape/ soundscape.

The Perth component of Totally Huge follows in April. While not themed there is a definite weight towards percussion in the programming which includes: Tetrafide; Nova Ensemble (in company with the pipe organ of St Peter’s Basilica); a significant part of the Clocked Out Duo, Zou and Zhang collaboration, and Ross Bolleter’s piano dissections. Balancing this program’s inclination are the contemporary chamber music ensembles Magnetic Pig and Elision. Previously in Perth Elision have performed Richard Barrett’s Opening of the Mouth at the Midland Railway Workshops amongst a Crow installation of decaying vegetables and moulding milk. This time they will be in concert mode performing works by Heyn, Desapin, Veltheim and others at the more anodyne space of the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

The composer-based ensemble Magnetic Pig will be celebrating their 10th anniversary with new works by members Cathie Travers, Lindsay Vickery and newcomer Jessica Ipkendanz. Travers will present 2 works from her Motion Algorythm series and Vickery will present Dialogues with Nobody and Improbable Games. Violinist Ipkendanz premiers her solo work Obsession. Travers will also be performing a solo show The Modulator where she abandons her usual electronic keyboard and effects in favour of piano accordion.

Moving from percussion and chamber music to electronica, John Gough, aka Pimmon, for the first time this year exposes Perth audiences to his dynamic electro-audio accretions. Also, Hannah Clemen has curated an immersive environment of sonic journeys. Seven hours of soundscapes, ambient and deep listening can be heard for free in the mathematically named ‘Function Room’ at the Paradiso cinema.

On the other side of town at the Claise Brook inlet off the Swan River there will be installations by Alan Lamb and Rob Muir. For Project 44 Muir is collaborating with visual artist Alex Hayes. A speaker is to be placed in the depths of each of an array of 44 gallon drums, playing its sonic history, real or imagined. The listener moves through the array physically mixing the many stories as they go.

At the river end of the inlet Alan Lamb will string 6 high-tensile wires across the Claise Brook; one end anchored to a huge eucalypt, the other terminating above the Holmes á Court gallery on the opposite bank. This work, Wires in the Sky, will use transducers to feed the constantly changing harmonies and transient impacts of the wires into the gallery below. In the gallery, visitors can listen, mix and record their own compositions.

Although this year’s Totally Huge is not as ambitious or as diverse as previous festivals, and many artists reappear throughout the program in different guises, Artistic Director Tos Mahoney is about to deliver another satisfying festival of new music to the audiences of Perth.


Totally Huge New Music Festival, Perth, April 12-21; Drums in the Outback, Wogarno Station WA, March 29-31 www.tura.com.au

RealTime issue #48 April-May 2002 pg. 38

© Andrew Beck; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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