Erik Griswold, co-director of Clocked Out with Vanessa Tomlinson, tells me, “I started The Trilling Wire Series last year upon realising that there were a number of really great contemporary/experimental music ensembles around the country doing fantastic programs that never made it to Brisbane. So I invited Perth’s Decibel, Melbourne’s Golden Fur and Sydney’s Ensemble Offspring to come and present some of their best programs of 2010. Held in the intimate Shopfront space of the Judith Wright Centre, The Trilling Wire Series was a rare chance for audiences to hear avant-garde chamber music in a non-conservatorium environment.”
First up in the 2011 series is Adelaide’s Soundstream Collective, led by Gabriella Smart and resident ensemble at the University of Adelaide. Their program entirely focuses on the idiosyncratic Polish composer Hannah Kulenty’s Circle series (1994-96) representing “Kulenty’s self-titled ‘European trance music,’ her original version of ‘post-minimalist’ style...In many ways this music is closer to the meditative qualities of Indian ragas, rather than Western minimalism” (press release).
Chris Reid wrote about hearing the Fourth Circle at the Soundstream Adelaide New Music Festival in 2009: “Kulenty’s is a stunning piece, emotionally overwhelming and brilliantly executed. Following a long piano passage like a tolling bell, the cello begins a series of questioning phrases that become incessant, using short, microtonally notated glissandi, crying imploringly—why? why? why? An intense crescendo is then slowly relaxed, with the glissandi curling downward. I was speechless for some time afterwards, so affecting were the writing and the performance” (RT93). The Brisbane performance, a very special occasion, will be the first time the series will be played in its entirety, featuring musicians John Addison, Janet McKay, Martin Phillipson and Gabriella Smart.
Melbourne’s Quiver, led by Matthias Schack-Arnott, will present the meeting of Louise Curham’s “hyper-expressionist” 8mm film with David Young’s watercolour graphic scores—”Shot in Yokohama Japan, this 45-minute hand-processed Super 8 film/music work forms the basis of the musical scores...The inter-medial nature of the work creates a hovering connectedness between image and sound, shifting the boundaries between the artforms” (press release). The program also premieres a Quiver commission from James Rushford—Viper Gloss, with “a compositional process...informed by the ‘grisailles’ technique of staining glass, where different shades of grey are used to create the effect of a relief.”
The final concert in the series, Early Warning System, launches a new percussion-based ensemble directed by Michael Askill and Vanessa Tomlinson.
Tomlinson describes the concept for the group: “Michael has contributed so much to the identity of Australian music over four decades of work, commissioning composers, composing himself and generating huge enthusiasm for Australian music through his work with Synergy. Early Warning System harnesses his pioneering experiences and combines with my eclectic style of playing and interests.”
The group’s debut performance features works by American John Luther Adams (not the other John Adams; see The New Yorker, May 12, 2008, available online) and a premiere of a new composition for cello and percussion by Erik Griswold. Tomlinson says, “Both composers represent a way forward for acoustic percussion performance that acknowledges the listening detail of electronic music and is accepting of particularities of place. We will also be playing Chinese composer Tan Dun’s Snow in June—which obviously makes more sense in the southern hemisphere than the north—and a classic of Michael Askill’s, Free Radicals, dealing with rhythmic cycles and the joy of percussing.”
The title of the series comes from TS Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton, but what does it mean for Clocked Out? “The trilling wire in the blood/ Sings below inveterate scars/ And reconciles forgotten wars.” Erik Griswold says, “Yes, the TS Eliot connection is there. I also like the connection to a news wire—transmitting contemporary music developments around the country, and more generally to the notion of the trilling wire emitting vibrations, both acoustic and electronic. Taking a slightly broader context of that section of the poem, there is much brighter imagery which suggests energy and lightness: ‘The dance along the artery/ The circulation of the lymph/ Are figured in the drift of stars/ Ascend to summer in the tree/ We move above the moving tree/ In light upon the figured leaf’.”
RealTime issue #105 Oct-Nov 2011 pg. 41
© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to email@example.com