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seasonal sounds

upcoming festivals


The first Melbourne International Biennale of Exploratory Music 2008 (MIBEM March 28-April 2) has just wrapped up after six days of ‘boundary-expanding’ music made by over 50 Australian and international artists. Curated by the irrepressible duo of Anthony Pateras and Robin Fox the fare ranged from the ‘erotic killcore’ of Passenger of Shit to Stephen Whittington’s interpretation of Triadic Memories by Morton Feldman.

Following hard on the heels of the Adelaide Festival was the inaugural Adelaide Contemporary Music Festival (April 4-8) directed by Gabriella Smart of the Soundstream Contemporary Music Ensemble. The program included compositions by Andrew Ford, Roger Smalley, Tristram Cary, Sofia Gubaidalina, Alfred Schnittke and others as well as the world premiere of a work by Constantine Koukias for the Dutch ensemble Telesto Duo. The Korean Trio d’anche Suave, also made their Australian debut. Smart is already planning her 2009 festival.

Also biennial is the 2008 Aurora festival (April 11- 20) concentrated in Western Sydney with concerts at Campbelltown and Blacktown Arts Centres, Parramatta Riverside, UWS Parramatta Campus and The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith. Directed by Matthew Hindson, Aurora concentrates on living composers, and this year’s focus is on the work of Chinary Ung and Michael Atherton. Ung is Cambodian-born but US-based coming to Western classical music in his late teens. His work Aura, exploring the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will be performed by the soprano duo Halcyon. The same concert will feature Sydney-based Michael Atherton’s Songs of Stone and Silence based on poems by WWII prisoners of War. Atherton’s UtiLity HoRn GrOove, for five utes, DJ, saxophone, double bass, dancers and a gamelan of mag wheels promises to be a highlight. The program also includes concerts by The Grainger String Quartet, percussionist Claire Edwardes with pianist Bernadette Balkus, and the Austrailian premieres of Michael Smetanin’s Micrographia and Steve Reich’s Daniel Variations (also previewing at the Sydney Conservatorium).

After a break in 2007, Whatismusic? returns with a mini one-day extravaganza at CarriageWorks Sydney (April 11). The marathon evening features Dale Gorfinkel, Marco Fusinato, Chris Abrahams and Cor Fuhler, Maxximal Patterrorist (Anthony Pateras and Max Kohane), festival director Robbie Avenaim and a rare Sydney performance by former festival director Oren Ambarchi. Along with leading Italian electroacoustic composer and improviser Valerio Tricoli, highlights will include the full scale laser show from Robin Fox and Miles and Zai van Dorssen’s Feuerwasser — a monumental clash of the elements of fire and water which must be seen to be heard! There’s a Melbourne leg with a concert at the Toff of the Town (April 14 with artists still to be announced) and Noisemaze, a free outdoor public jam at Grace Park, Hawthorn (April 15).

In May it’s the ACT’s turn with the Canberra International Contemporary Music Festival (May 7-18). Under the directorship of Nicole Canham, tango is set to feature with the French ensemble Tango Futur and Elena Kats-Chernin’s Keating Tangos. Other international guests include Iva Bittova from the Czech Republic, Crash Ensemble from Ireland, So Percussion, The Don Byron Ivey Divey Trio, and purportedly the world’s best theremin player Rob Schwimmer, all from the USA. Combined with the Australian talents of Lisa Moore, Jouissance, Topology, Ensemble Offspring, Robyn Archer, Paul Grabowsky, The Sculthorpe Quartet and William Barton, Canberra might just be the place to be.

Once we hit winter Liquid Architecture will tour nationally and the Australasian Computer Music Conference will be held in Sydney. Along with the first round of successful tours supported through the new Sound Travellers initiative, exploratory music would appear to be alive and well. RT

RealTime issue #84 April-May 2008 pg. 42

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