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Alvin Curran, Shofar III concert with William Winant, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, 2009 Alvin Curran, Shofar III concert with William Winant, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, 2009
photo Susan Levenstein
This year’s Totally Huge New Music Festival looks to be bigger than ever, spreading across Perth’s cultural precinct and beyond in August. The festival will also incorporate the International Computer Music Conference with its extensive program of selected live performances from around the world. Matthew Lorenzon spoke with Tura New Music’s Tos Mahoney to find out more.

This will be Tura’s 26th year, the 11th Totally Huge New Music Festival and the 27th International Computer Music Conference. Though none of those numbers are particularly auspicious, it looks like it will be a momentous year for the festival. What can we look forward to?

The integration of the first International Computer Music Conference in the southern hemisphere means there will be a focus across the broad spectrum of computer music and electronic music. As well as international headliners like Alvin Curran, Haco and Agostino di Scipio we’ll have a large contingent of Australian acts including Speak Percussion, Decibel and Clocked Out. There will also be, concurrently with the festival, an installation by Otomo Yoshihide at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. We’re looking to get him back for the festival too, if we can.

Both the conference and the festival are centred around the Cultural Centre, but we’ll have events from the Museum to the Library, PICA, State Theatre Centre and even The Bakery. There will also be some events in Fremantle, where Alvin Curran will be presenting a version of Maritime Rites—not the full version, but he’ll be performing the piece himself. Curran will also present Beams—a totally acoustic work—for a varyingly large ensemble at Fremantle or Midland.

We also pride ourselves on bridging the Australian east-west divide on a constant basis. Of course Speak Percussion have been here a couple of times now. This time they’ll be presenting a new collaboration between Robin Fox and Eugene Ughetti, which we’re very excited about.

How will the International Computer Music Conference and the festival connect?

Though it sits outside the conference, the Fox-Ughetti collaboration will fit quite nicely into the ICMC program. In fact all the way through the program there are constant connections. The great thing about the ICMC is that it’s not just an academic conference: as well as written papers there are also peer-reviewed performances. Clocked Out will be doing some of their own compositions as well as performing some of the works from the ICMC. We’re still not exactly sure which pieces yet, but I can say there will be a wealth of fantastic work that will be presented as both part of the conference and the festival. Some will be live performances, others acousmatic surround-sound works by each artist and then there will be a listening room where about 60 works will be on a loop for the whole week.

How did you tee up this ground-breaking international conference?

To our credit we have had Cat Hope from WAAPA and Lindsay Vickery from Edith Cowan University working on this for a long time. The universities and Tura New Music jointly bid for the conference. This is the first time in the conference’s 27-year history that it will be south of the equator. We didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into! We had over 400 submissions for the conference and we understand that it attracts an uncommonly engaged audience who go to everything, whether it is officially part of the conference or not. If you were ever going to bridge that east-west gap and visit Perth, this would be the time.

What are the themes for the conference and festival?

Cat Hope decided on the theme “Developments in electro-acoustics” to broaden the notion of what the conference could contain. We are providing a contingent of performers and resources for the conference beyond the obvious electronic ones—including Decibel, Clocked Out, didjeridu players, a jazz orchestra and a laptop orchestra. There will be a huge spectrum of events.

Will we be introduced to any emerging performers?

Yes, we are organising an emerging local artists’ stream for the conference curated by Sam Gillies, a composer and recent graduate from WAAPA. That program will feature about 12 local artists and ensembles.

On a side note, Tura New Music has been collecting an invaluable archive of recordings of and documentation about contemporary Australian music. Have there been any developments in regards to this incredible resource?

We guard the Tura New Music Archive with our lives and have recently received funding through a joint ARC grant with ECU, the State Library, the National Library and ABC FM. It is called the “Western Australian New Music Archive Project.” Its goal is to set up an online research archive of Western Australian New Music going back to 1970. The Tura archive will be part of that but we will also be uncovering as much as we can in other collections. The grant allows us to employ a research assistant for up to three years. We’re about to put out an Expression of Interest, but if you know anyone who knows about digital archiving please tell them to get in touch with us!


11th Totally Huge New Music Festival International Computer Music Conference, Perth, 9-18 Aug; www.tura.com.au

RealTime issue #115 June-July 2013 pg. 44

© Matthew Lorenzon; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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