Features, Music, News, Performing arts

WASO’s 2020 vision

The West Australian Symphony Orchestra have launched their 2020 program. On the eve of their program launch Rosalind Appleby caught up with principal conductor Asher Fisch and Evan Kennea, executive manager artistic planning.

The program, as you would expect, is packed with international soloists and some of the greatest orchestral repertoire in music history. But the season also includes opportunities for local composers, new outreach initiatives and a depth that reflects the orchestra is taking seriously its role of building a musical community.

Over coffee Asher Fisch and Evan Kennea exuded the relaxed confidence of a team who have been working together for years. With immense enthusiasm Fisch revealed that he will be conducting a concert performance of another opera, this time Beethoven’s Fidelio in collaboration with the Perth Festival, starring German soprano Christiane Libor.

“I’m very excited about Fidelio, I want this to catch on and do [an opera] every year. It is so expensive but I think it is important and in the end it will be the best seller in our program. It might take a few years but I know from other opera concerts in America, Europe, Israel, they are the first best-seller in the orchestra’s program every year.”

Asher Fisch and WA Symphony Orchestra. Photo supplied.

The opera is part of a focus in 2020 on Beethoven, celebrating the 250th anniversary of his birth. The Beethoven-mania will include the mighty Missa Solemnis and Fisch will continue his tradition of cycles, this time dedicating a week to Beethoven’s five Piano Concertos performed by Behzod Abduraimov. It is part of Fisch’s vision to reach beyond the programming straitjacket of the overture/concerto/symphony, and to bring in particular new opera repertoire to Perth audiences.

“I must say the management is so understanding because every crazy idea I have had that is expensive and big and everybody was afraid wasn’t going to sell well, they went for all of them, they supported it. It proved, thank God, to be successful in each case. They said nobody is going to come to a Brahms cycle in Perth but we sold very well. These big projects, in the end, that is what pushes us.”

WASOs new recording of Tristan und Isolde for ABC Classic.

Fisch cites the orchestra’s 2018 performance of Tristan und Isolde which recently won two Helpmann Awards and was released as a recording by ABC Classic earlier this month.

“With Tristan we had two great concerts and we have a recording that is now out. There is no better way for us to herald our great orchestra than to put it on a Tristan recording because people in the U.S. and London will listen to it because there is a new Tristan recording – they don’t come out that often because it is a massive thing to do – and with Stuart Skelton who people know is one of the world’s best Tristan’s and deserves a recording.”

Supporting local artists

Kennea revealed with pride that the Beethoven focus is balanced with some exciting Australian repertoire.

The orchestra has commissioned Perth composer Olivia Davies to write a new work which will be premiered by conductor Cristian Macelaru, who will then give the work an international platform by performing it at the prestigious Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California, where Macelaru is the director.

Iain Grandage’s spectacular percussion concerto Dances with Devils, inspired by Australian gothic stories, will be performed by Claire Edwardes. And in a landmark event Deborah Cheetham’s groundbreaking 2018 work Eumarella, a war requiem for piece with its fusion of Western classical tradition and First Nations culture, will be performed in Perth with chorus, soloists and children’s choir.

The international contemporary repertoire includes Rautavaara’s Cantus arcticus and John Adams’ Absolute Jest, a witty concerto inspired by the ecstatic energy of Beethoven’s music, featuring the members of Australian String Quartet as soloists. British composer Anna Clyne’s This Midnight Hour, written for the Orchestre national d’Île de France balances out the gender parity in the contemporary repertoire nicely.

Building a musical community

WASO has expanded its efforts to reach new audiences in 2020 with the launch of two new concert series: Afternoon Concerts and Naked Classics.

“We are not sitting on our hands hoping an audience will develop somewhere, we are getting in there and trying to help build an audience in Perth.” Kennea explains. “When you finish work come to the hall, bring your colleagues, have a drink and enjoy a short, sharp, punchy concert that is done by 7:30, so you can head out for dinner.”

And for those who love WASO concerts but don’t always have someone to go with, Music for Every 1, a meetup at Perth Concert Hall connects solo attendees with others who share a passion for classical music.

Kennea also talks with excitement about the orchestra’s role in musical education. WASO’s Crescendo music education program was recently recognised with an Art Music award. Created by WASO in 2014 and inspired by the Venezuelan El Sistema, Crescendo delivers free, ongoing and regular music education to more than 400 students in Kwinana.

“Our education program is a crucial plank in the company. Simon Rattle when he went to Berlin [Philharmonic] said: ‘You have been the most phenomenal high priests of music, now you have to become the evangelists as well.’ It is true, you have to have a great orchestra, that is the basis of everything, but then you are part of a community. And particularly [WASO] is a critical part of a much bigger musical world, and how the orchestra helps keep the health of that musical world is a really important thing.”

Grammy Award-winning violinist Gil Shaham. Photo supplied.

The orchestra’s outreach into the community will unfold along several avenues, including a Discovery Concert, building on the popular series initiated in 2019, this time with Fisch at the piano and podium providing a guide through the concept of musical variation. Fisch will also conduct Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra narrated by Iain Grandage, and educator Paul Rissmann will return as artist in residence for a family concert.

The roster of soloists includes the star power of conductors Vasily Petrenko and Ludovic Morlot, Grammy Award-winning violinist Gil Shaham playing Brahms, Australian pianist Jayson Gillham performing Liszt, and Macedonian superstar Simon Trpčeski in Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2.

Returning seasonal favourites include another Easter collaboration with St George’s Cathedral (Bach’s Easter Oratorio); the ever popular Last Night at the Proms; Chris Dragon conducting Comic Cons, and WASO at the Movies performing the soundtracks to the next instalments of Star Wars and Harry Potter.

“We still have Asher doing his core repertoire,” Kennea explains, “Repertoire he has used to build the orchestra over the past five and a half years, so reinforcing that kind of playing. But [we are] pushing the envelope out a little bit which is good.”

It is good indeed.

The WASO 2020 program is available online.

Pictured top: Evan Kennea and Asher Fisch relaxed over coffee. Photo by Rosalind Appleby.

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six instrumentalists stand on the stage of an empty auditorium
Features, Music, News, Performing arts

A concrete collaboration

A performance by Decibel ensemble is a visceral sensory experience, particularly when performing music by French composer Lionel Marchetti.  Their musical collaborations – spanning eight years – are being celebrated in a national tour, part of a series of concerts recognising Decibel’s ten year anniversary. Seesaw magazine chatted to Decibel’s artistic director Cat Hope about the magic that happens when acoustic and electronic sounds overlap.

Rosalind Appleby: Firstly congratulations on Decibel’s 10 year anniversary as a band! It’s great the party is continuing all year with this series of 10 at 10 concerts. And I’m pleased WA (as the original home of Decibel) is hosting the launch of this tour with Lionel Marchetti. What are your highlights from the past 10 years?

Cat Hope: The highlight is really how we have evolved and consolidated as both a musical project but also a group of people playing music together. But specific highlights would have to include the tour of Europe in 2012, where we worked with German Radio producers and tonmeisters: it really validated us and our approach, and made me realise that there is a place for our music outside the ‘experimental music ghetto’ that I sometimes feel we are relegated to in Perth.

Our performance at the International TENOR conference earlier this year was also great, because it became clear there that we are held in very high esteem by our international colleagues.

RA: Lionel Marchetti has been working in the French genre of musique concrète since the 80’s, utilising recorded sounds (instruments, voice, electronics etc) as raw material in his digital compositions. How did you first come across his works?

CH: We met Lionel when Decibel shared a bill with him during a performance at Liquid Architecture in Sydney in 2011. I was so impressed with his live performance, and this idea that music concrete could be a performative genre, that I asked him to write a piece for Decibel. The result was a beautiful work that we premiered the following year at the WA State Museum, Premierè étude (le ombres). Later I found out that he was in Australia back then to be on the bill with Eliane Radigue, as he is a preferred diffusor of her electronic works. She was unable to travel that time, but we went on to work with her later, so that’s a nice link. Since then we have worked with Lionel on around seven works, in different ways: they are all on our Room 40 CD release, The Last Days of Reality released at the end of last year.

Portrait of French composer Lionel Marchetti, also the cover art of the Decibel/Marchetti album The Last Days of Reality. Photo Bruno Roche.

RA: Decibel’s 2012 commission from Marchetti was the first time he had done anything for a combination of electronic and acoustic instruments. Can you explain the process of how you came upon the idea of a ‘partition concrete’, a concept which inspired the title for this concert?

CH: Premierè étude (le ombres) is a text score, and comes with what Marchetti calls a ‘Partition concrete’ (concrete part). Referencing his music concrete practice, the partition concrete is a fixed audio ‘part’, like any part in an ensemble. The partition concrete is reproduced through carefully calibrated and situated speakers onstage, and sometimes alongside,  the live performers. The performers are instructed to interact with these sounds in specific ways. The result is truly wonderful: delicate but at times surprising, a real examination of the nature of sound and performance. You can also listen to these partition concrete alone: they are all on his Bandcamp site.

RA: What has Marchetti’s music brought to Decibel Ensemble’s ongoing explorations into the integration of electronic and acoustic instruments?

CH: This is a great question: one thing that became clear to us a few years into our existence was how important scores were going to be as part of our commitment to the integration of electronic and acoustic instruments. So we found innovate ways to read and create scores for electronics within the ensemble. Marchetti’s music took us in a different direction again, as it relies much less on notation. The detailed instructions are within the sound, but structured through the text score. It draws on the intuitive musicianship we share as creators of electronic or acoustic music, and relies on excellent ensemble skills to come together. I really believe in this common musicianship concept – musicianship as something that all experienced musicians hold, irrespective of process, genre or style. When you truly explore that notion, the results can be pretty special.

RA: In this concert the loudspeaker is not simply a system of amplification or even an instrument in itself – Marchetti is trying to render the speaker invisible. Can you explain how he manages to make the sounds from the speaker invisible?

CH: When the acoustic instruments are work working within and around the sounds from the speakers, you really can’t tell which is which sound is coming from the instrument or speaker, and that’s kind of magical.

RA: The program includes two works Marchetti wrote for bass flute (you) and a work for Decibel ensemble. There is also a new collaborative work that will be performed on the night – can you give us some clues what we can expect from this?

CH: Two of the works are collaborative pieces between myself and Lionel: The Last Days of Reality (2018)  for bass flute, tam tam and partition concrete, and The Earth Defeats Me (2014) for bass flute, bass clarinet and partition concrete. These were made differently from the others in that I first created a graphic score in the Decibel ScorePlayer as I usually do, performed and recorded it, sent to Lionel who would then use it to create the partition concrete in some way. That partition concrete is then built into the score, so whenever we play it, from the score, that part is included. I love the way these turned out.

There are two other existing works for the ensemble (and Lionel will play a clarinet in one of them!), but also an extended new work by Lionel, Inland, which we will be developing in the residency before the concert.

RA:  How should we be listening to it?

Darren Jorgensen called this music the ‘new classicism’ in his Realtime Review of a concert we did featuring Marchetti’s music in 2016, and I think it’s a good term. There is an unexpected and strange kind of formality to this music, a new and different type of formality that I am still attempting to describe. The music is experienced as a sensory experience because it requires a kind of virtuosic listening – the sound is rich and multilayered, coming from places you don’t expect, instruments creating sounds that seem to defy their construction or intention, as well as the use of unusual instruments at times. The closer music moves toward the real centre of sound, the more visceral it becomes.

“Partition Concrète” is at the Sewing Room on August 26 and continues to Melbourne and Sydney.

Read Seesaw’s review of “Partition Concrète”.

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Laura Boynes. Photo: Emma Fishwick
Dance, Features, News, Performing arts

An everyday super (s)hero

“Imagine if feminism was a super hero.”

That’s what local dance artist Laura Boynes is asking of audiences this month, when she presents and performs Wonder Woman, a double bill of solo dance works.

It’s the recent groundswell of support for women’s rights – in the form of international and national women’s marches, as well as the #metoo and Time’s Up campaigns – that initially moved Boynes to commission NSW-based choreographers Adelina Larsson and Julie-Anne Long to create the solos.

In this Q&A with Nina Levy, Laura spills the beans about making Wonder Woman.

‘What does an everyday superhero looks like?’ asks Laura Boynes. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

Nina Levy: Why did you choose to name your show for Wonder Woman?
Laura Boynes: Wonder Woman seemed like a fitting title as one of the first provocations I commissioned the choreographers with was “imagine if feminism was a superhero” and whether people believe Wonder Woman is a feminist icon or failure she remains a feminist symbol 75 years after her creation. Whilst I am not portraying Wonder Woman the character, the work speaks to the idea that potentially there is a “Shero” within all women. What does an everyday superhero look like?

NL: There’s no questioning the timeliness and relevance of this work… but what inspired you to commission the two solos that comprise Wonder Woman?
LB: Firstly, I attended a symposium in 2016 Fremantle titled “we are not dead yet” which spoke about gender and age dynamics within contemporary arts practice and in particular invisibility of the older female artist. It was an incredibly inspiring lecture series and sparked a passion in me to respond to some of these themes by creating a new work. Secondly, a personal need to push my own practice as a performer by working with two artists I hadn’t previously worked with in a new format and the urge to take on the challenge of a full length solo work.

NL: Originally you were motivated by campaigns such as #metoo and Time’s Up. How has Wonder Woman evolved from this starting point?
LB: There is no doubt that #metoo and Time’s Up were the catalyst for Wonder Woman. While the issues are still relevant, a few years have passed since these political movements. The works we have ended up creating don’t deal directly with these events and thankfully I don’t have a personal #metoo story to uncover, however there is an undertone in what has become a semi-autobiographical and empowering work.

Laura Boynes. Photo: Emma Fishwick.
‘Movement can say a multitude of things that words cannot.’ – Laura Boynes at Dance Massive’s Open Studio. Photo: Ausdance Vic.

NL: The choreographers you commissioned to create the solos are Adelina Larsson and Julie-Anne Long. What drew you to those two dance artists?
LB: I chose these women for their individuality, and the choreographic aesthetic and thematic similarities in their prior bodies of work.

I had worked with Adelina in the past but never in this capacity. I had always been interested in her choreographic practice based, which is based heavily in improvisation, and also her commitment to larger social/political causes like BighART, where she works as a choreographer.

I met Julie-Anne in 2008 in a dance film lab and have been following her work every since. Julie-Anne has an extensive body of work spanning over many years. Part social/political commentary and part autobiographical, her work is clever, humorous and always has something to say. It was learning about her 2007 work The Invisibility Project that really led me to approach her for this project, along with a desire for cross-generational exchange.

NL: What does dance/dance theatre provide, in terms of being able to explore issues relating to women’s rights and feminism, that other art-forms don’t?
LB: I believe movement can say a multitude of things that words cannot, which is why I love this art form. Contemporary dance allows a viewer time and space to think and project their own thoughts onto what they are watching. Each audience member has a uniquely different experience of a dance work and that is why it is such a subjective form.

NL: What do you hope people will take away from Wonder Woman?
LB: My desire is for the audience to take away a sense of empowerment from Wonder Woman regardless of their gender. I want us to celebrate our strengths and flaws as humans and to feel a sense of community in knowing that others share the same experiences.

 Wonder Woman plays the State Theatre Centre of WA, August 28-31.

Read Seesaw’s review of Wonder Woman.

Laura Boynes eating a loaf of bread.
Laura Boynes. Photo: Matt Cornell.

Laura Boynes is an independent dance artist based in Perth. For the last 11 years, Laura has worked professionally as a performer, and has been creating her own work for about 7 years. Her work to date explores social, political and environmental concepts for theatre, gallery and site-specific spaces. She uses performance as a tool to inspire critical thought and reflection on the contemporary world.

As a dancer Laura has worked nationally and internationally in dance, theatre, experimental music, site-specific and opera works. What she enjoys most is taking on a performance challenge and collaborating with a choreographer to realise their vision.

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Features, Music, News

It’s time to listen

Becoming a composer often requires a long apprenticeship, but composer Lachlan Skipworth’s career is hitting full stride. The winner of the 2016 Paul Lowin Prize has released his debut album and it features a stellar line up of local and international musicians performing his chamber music. He chats with Rosalind Appleby about the endless chase for the perfect listening experience.

Rosalind Appleby: You’ve learned both clarinet and shakuhachi and studied with composers ranging from English modernist Roger Smalley to the Asian-influenced Australian Ann Boyd and avant-garde German Jörg Widmann. As a composer that is a vast range of experiences to draw on, yet you fuse them together to create such an original and beautiful voice. What is your secret??

Lachlan Skipworth: I suspect the “secret” is listening. I thirst for music that moves me physically and emotionally, as I believe music’s role is to strengthen us, to uplift us. Look at how profoundly it impacts infants, children and the elderly. And for me, endlessly chasing a “perfect” listening experience built a strong sense of my own personal aesthetic preference. So the constant challenge of creating music that lives up to this vision is what drives my artistic journey. Clarinet and shakuhachi skew my voice towards a certain purity and subtle nuance, and memorising shakuhachi honkyoku in particular left an lasting impression on my musical instincts. My composition teachers all played an important part in developing my musical thinking at key stages of my career. But the central factor is how deeply I love listening to both live and recorded music.

Composer, clarinettist and shakuhachi student Lachlan Skipworth. Photo supplied.

RA: Your repertoire includes orchestra, chamber and vocal music. Why did you choose to focus on chamber music pieces for your debut album?

LS: Of course a little pragmatism- it’s much easier to assemble chamber groups than an orchestra. But playing in a wind quintet in high school introduced me to the joy of making chamber music, and the love has never gone away. Chamber music can be equally as powerful as the symphonic repertoire, but reaches for something even more through the intimacy of its spell-binding musical communication. On my album the Piano Trio reflects this, a live recording that absolutely sparkles with the personality and virtuosity of the performers as they navigate some fiendishly difficult writing. It really does mean a lot to me to have assembled these five pieces on an album, it is a big personal milestone. And I do hope a subsequent orchestral release is not too far down the track!

RA: The shakuhachi honkyoku aesthetic permeates every work, with the use of silence as a colour, the floating absence of predictable rhythms, detailed inflections of tone and pitch. However the instrument itself doesn’t appear on the album. Is there a reason for this?

LS: These pieces represent a challenge to myself to express the honkyoku aesthetics in a medium completely removed from shakuhachi. Its haunting sound holds so many connotations that it ties me to a particular musical palette which I outgrew many years ago. So in these works I’m asking musicians with no knowledge of honkyoku to engage with its various musical elements, perhaps unknowingly. And this to some extent meets my obligation to transmit my shakuhachi learning in gratitude to my teachers for teaching me.

RA: Can you describe the Psalterphone, the instrument you invented, and why you wanted this particular sound in The Night Sky Fall.

LS: In the original version of this piece, a re-tuned cello playing stratospheric natural harmonics was the third instrument (after clarinet and piano). I’ve been told it is close to impossible to play. And when I started conversations with Louise Devenish about forming Intercurrent, we discussed playing this work with percussion taking on the cello’s role somehow. After many trips to the Perth New Music Supply Store (Bunnings), I settled upon a design that combines the layout of a psaltery (an ancient Greek string instrument) with the sound of a bowed vibraphone. The sustained sound helps the perfectly tuned intervals of the harmonic series linger and shimmer in the air. Louise has honed the playing technique to make it sound fantastic.

RA: You have a stunning list of performers contributing to the album, including the ensemble Intercurrent you founded, and your wife Akiko Miyazawa playing violin. How important is it for a composer to either form or find ensembles willing to take on the challenge of a new piece?

LS: Very important, but I’d flip the responsibility around- composers simply must make sure their notes challenge and excite the best performers. If the music is too easy performers won’t practice, and if too hard they won’t achieve the satisfaction of feeling like they played well. I’m really happy that my collaborations with Ashley Smith are heavily featured on this album. He was the star of my Clarinet Concerto some years back [Ed: which won the 2015 Art Music Award for Performance of the Year and the 2016 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize.], and this experience undoubtedly informed how I composed the Clarinet Quintet to frame the astoundingly beautiful tone he makes. Our musical relationship is a dream, and I hope to write many more works for him in the years ahead.

Lachlan Skipworth album cover. Cover photo Andrew Davoll

RA: What do you hope listeners will experience when they get their hands on this album?

LS: I hope that listeners can be drawn in to experience the “inside” of each work. These high-quality snapshots of the music were facilitated by the recording engineer Lee Buddle, who makes it truly possible to feel like you’re in the room sharing an intimate performance with the musicians. But most of all I hope that the music itself leads the listener upon a personal and somehow uplifting journey.

Skipworth’s self titled debut album is available on the Navona label from August 9. Catalog #: NV6241.

Pictured top: Composer, clarinettist and shakuhachi student Lachlan Skipworth. Photo Nik Babic.

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Christopher Pease, Kartwarra, 2019, oil and Balga resin on canvas, 36th Telstra NATSIAA. Courtesy of the artist and Gallerysmith.  
Features, News, Visual arts

Recovering a stolen past

As a son of a member of the Stolen Generation, Dunsborough-based artist Christopher Pease didn’t know much about his Aboriginal heritage when he was a child.

Now he has created a series of works that explore Aboriginal identity and culture, one of which has been selected as a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Awards. Jaimi Wright spoke to Christopher Pease to find out more.

Christopher Pease

In testament to his name, Christopher Pease exudes an easy kind of warmth. As he describes his striking artwork Kartwarra (2019, pictured top), he admits that entering a work in the 2019 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) had not initially crossed his mind. Now the Dunsborough artist is a finalist in the prestigious competition, with Kartwarra, a poignant work that is a complex study of contemporary Aboriginal identity and heritage.

Kartwarra is not intended to be a comfortable viewing experience. The work is part of the larger, four year long, six work series “Minang Boodjar”, the premise of which is taken from a series of colonial sketches of King George’s Sound by English Lieutenant Robert Dale in the 1830s. Overlaid on Pease’s interpretation of Dale’s work are three ominous geometric shapes; a grim reminder of Dale’s connection to King George’s Sound and local Indigenous heritage. The shapes are based on a print of the head of Nyoongar leader Yagan, taken back to England by Dale to serve as a local curiosity. There is a tension in the macabre juxtaposition of Dale’s print and Pease’s contemporary deconstruction of Yagan’s head. It is these tensions and juxtapositions that speak of Pease’s experience of identity.

A combination of English, French and Minang/Nyoongar descent, Pease had no active relationship with his Aboriginal cultural heritage growing up. “I knew that I was Aboriginal, but I didn’t know my family ties or traditional language,” he remembers. “It wasn’t until maybe year nine or ten that I started [to be curious about it].”

Police forcibly took Pease’s mother away from her family at an early age and she was raised in the infamous Sister Kate’s boarding school, established in Perth. A member of the Stolen Generation, she didn’t reunite with her family until her late thirties, when Pease was in high school. This separation created a cultural disconnect, one that Pease bridged visually in the process of creating “Minang Boodjar” years later.

“What started it all was, I guess, back in 1999; I was trying to find a visual iconography that has very old roots,” he explains. “I wanted to revive the Nyoongar visual iconography.”

What ensued was a search through museums and photographs searching for Nyoongar iconography. This trail led Pease to a series of photographs by controversial nineteenth-century Irish anthropologist Daisy Bates and, eventually, to Robert Dale’s print of King George’s Sound.

“There’s always questions as to the accuracy and how much propaganda is in the old artwork,” he reflects. “I think it’s a mixture of a lot of things. There are a lot of truths in it, but also a lot of propaganda in the old prints.”

Kartwarra questions the accuracy of this mixture, but is not overly didactic in doing so. Though the work addresses heavy subject matter, its abstract elements posit themes rather than direct ideas. At its core, Kartwarra is an exploration of connections; between objects and history, between cultural interpretations, between a man and his heritage.

Although Pease laughs to himself as he admits he only entered NATSIAA after a request from a friend, he says he is grateful to be one of the 68 artists to be finalists in Australia’s longest running and most prestigious Indigenous art award. “The standard is very high, I’m glad to be a part of it. The work up there is always at an amazing level.”

Kartwarra makes for powerful viewing. With tactful curiosity the artwork addresses issues of shifting contemporary and Aboriginal and European identity, both on a personal note and now on a national level.

The winners of the 36th Telstra NATSIAA Awards will be announced at an awards ceremony at Museum And Art Gallery Northern Territory’s Bullocky Point Facility on Friday 9 August 2019.

The exhibition of the finalists’ works will be on display at MAGNT from 10 August – 3 November.

Pictured top is Christopher Pease’s ‘Kartwarra’, 2019, oil and Balga resin on canvas, 36th Telstra NATSIAA. Courtesy of the artist and Gallerysmith.

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Features, News, Performing arts, Theatre

A modern-day Medea

How do you take an ancient Greek play about betrayal and revenge, that culminates in a mother murdering her two children, and reimagine it into relevance for a contemporary audience?

Nina Levy asked this question and more of Sally Richardson, the director of Black Swan State Theatre and WA Youth Theatre companies’ upcoming production of Medea.

Sally Richardson

Nina Levy: This version of Medea is by Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks… how have the writers shaped this story for a contemporary audience?
Sally Richardson: Kate and Anne-Louise’s Medea is very much an “of the now” re-writing of the play. This is Medea as experienced from the perspective of the two sons of Jason and Medea, and set in the boys’ bedroom in a family home somewhere in Australia. It’s a story that is over 2500 years old, with events unfolding as per the Euripides version but it is adapted into a modern vernacular and represented in a very human, poignant and moving way.

NL: When did you first come across this version of Medea? What drew you to the play?
SR: The work was first performed in 2012 and won the Sydney Critics Circle Awards for Best New Australian Work, Best Main Stage Production, Best Direction, Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Newcomers. Friends had seen the show at Belvoir St Downstairs studio space and said it was incredibly moving.

I had directed Kate’s play The Danger Age in 2010 for [the now defunct Perth theatre company] Deckchair Theatre and I was keen to do another work of Kate’s here in Perth. Given the subject matter around the breakdown of a family unit and a once passionate marriage, this work feels both timely and relevant to our audience.

In rehearsal: Young actors Jack Molloy (foreground) and Lachlan Ives. Photo: Philip Gostelow.

NL: Medea is a collaboration between Black Swan and WA Youth Theatre Company (WAYTCo) – tell me about the collaborative process.
SR: WAYTCo helped us undertake the critical first stage of the project in finding the two young casts to play the key roles of the brothers Jasper and Leon. In a process facilitated by WAYTCo, and in their space, over a single day we saw more than a hundred boys. We then ran a once a week workshop for eight weeks for the selected 25 emerging artists. The boys received an introduction to Medea and professional theatre, and it allowed the team a real chance to work with and get to know our potential cast members. There are two alternating casts, so at the end of the process two pairs of boys were selected for the roles: Jalen Hewitt and Jesse Vakatini, and Lachlan Ives and Jack Molloy.

Now in rehearsal we have WAYTCo’s ongoing support and WAYTCo Associate, emerging artist Amelia Burke, has also joined the team as an observer.

NL: The fate of the children is one of the most tragic elements of Medea. How do you look after the emotional well-being of the young performers playing the roles of Leon and Jasper?
SR: Although they are playing characters a couple of years younger, the four boys are actually aged 14-15 so in many ways they are quite mature, and even joke about the play being actually quite funny “except for the homicide at the end”. We have had some deep discussions around how this might happen and why it can happen, but it’s the tragedy of this that is also what makes the play so relevant and timely.

Alexandria Steffensen with young actors Jalen Hewitt and Jesse Vakatini, in rehearsal. Photo: Philip Gostelow.

NL: As a director you’re renowned for bringing together multiple disciplines. Describe the vision for this work in terms of your artistic practice.
SR: My creative practice through Steamworks Arts has seen me actively championing the voice, presence and creativity of women in the performing arts. This production is no exception having been created by two leading female playwrights with a female lighting designer in the incredible Lucy Birkenshaw, singer/songwriter/composer and arranger Melanie Robinson on the team, Laura Boynes as movement director and powerhouse actor Alexandria Steffensen in the lead role. We also have an all-female backstage team in Erin Coubrough and Ana Julien Martial so we balance out the boy numbers pretty well! The script also gives us lots of room to choreograph our own play and fight sequences, so there are plenty of opportunities to create an exciting physical score as well.

SR: What do you think the cast members will bring to the play?
NL: The boys are wonderful and bring buckets loads of enthusiasm, energy, a wicked sense of humour and cheeky playfulness to their roles. Never mind superb good looks and charm… (they’ll love me for saying this!).

Alex [Steffensen], a WAAPA grad recently return from over East, will be new to Perth audiences and I know her Medea is going to blow people away. Her reading is intelligent, gutsy, while also being deeply moving. All together, it’s going to make for an unforgettable night in the theatre.

You can catch Medea at the State Theatre Centre of WA, August 8-25.

Pictured top: Lachlan Ives, Alexandria Steffensen and Jack Molly rehearsing ‘Medea’. Photo: Philip Gostelow.

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Artists take aim at canon

Perth artists Gabby Loo and Steven James Finch will be exploring a new approach to the Western canon of art and culture at this weekend’s Disrupted: Festival of Ideas. Entitled “Epistemicide in the Western art canon”, their workshop is about making visible the alienation experienced by people of colour in the face of this cultural monolith. Nina Levy spoke to the pair to find out more.

Gabby Loo and Steven James Finch. Photo: Tasha Faye.

Nina Levy: Tell me about yourselves and your artistic practice.
Steven James Finch: I am an early-career community artist with migrant settler heritage living on stolen lands. I have an ongoing concern about care, culture and ethical art practices in the face of ecological collapse and climate disaster. I recently become interested in decoloniality of the illegal state of Australia and solidarity with First Nations people.

I have edited literary journals, built and lived in nomadic off-grid structures, curated festivals and visual art exhibitions, produced Fringe performances, written and performed poetry, literature and performance art. Throughout I have tried to constantly ask what is the best way of living and caring for each other and for all beings? How can we be good, curious, just and truthful?

Gabby Loo: I am an emerging multidisciplinary artist and community arts facilitator based on the stolen lands of the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation. I am a second-generation migrant of Shan and Hakka ancestry.

In my personal arts practice I enjoy visually exploring my intersectional identities and autobiographical histories, of past and future self. I tend to accompany these ideas with fictionalised and surreal elements. I currently explore these ideas through illustration, comics, photography, textile works and small sculptures.

I am a co-director of Paper Mountain, creator of the CaLD & ATSI Creatives of WA online community group and I co-coordinate the ongoing community arts project Belonging with Aisyah Sumito, a local artist and curator. Belonging is a Noongar boodja-based community arts initiative with an aim to provide a safe space for artists to express ideas of self and identity, to make art, and have a voice with a particular focus on platforming Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) youth. We host communal workshops, meet ups and forums.

NL: What has shaped your artistic practices?
SJF: During my degree, when I thought being an author was a relatively straightforward process of releasing books, I developed an interest in the ethics of Soren Kierkegaard. Ethics for me became tied to aesthetics and interrelationality or spirit. I roughly remember Kierkegaard describing the ethical way as watching the face of someone who is perfectly responding to an imperfect but youthful actor on stage. So, for me, initially, creative practice and meaning-making is tied into ideas of being good and living ethically. So, instead of a solitary writer I’ve become committed to helping others express themselves. I have learned from running a magazine with my peers and putting in a lot of volunteer hours; from living off-grid in a nomadic structure in a backyard, hosting dinners about the end of the world; from running an artist run initiative; and from doing all of this while living in economic precarity.

What really helped me get to where I am today is meeting and working with incredible and good people, like Gabby Loo, Amber Boyatzis, Vidya Rajan, Claire Bushby, Alina Tang, Janet Carter and people on the dotdotdash and Paper Mountain team, people from Aunty Mabel’s Zine Distro. This led me to a key moment in 2016 when I was doing a short course with the Centre for Cultural Partnerships at the University of Melbourne, when Tania Cañas was a tutor, and spoke of how Western pedagogy and education had led to this widespread epistemicide, the death of the diversity of knowledge. From that moment, I began to take my community arts work more seriously. In speaking with our collaborators from the “Seasons, Histories, Hopes” exhibition at the SLWA, I have learned so much about who I am and what knowledge I can share with my cultures and communities – one of which, from Walter Mignolo and others, is the idea of decolonial aesthetics.

GL: In 2017 I graduated from UWA with a Fine Arts Major. I’ve been a freelance independent artist and community arts facilitator ever since. As an artist of colour I am driven to create change in the Perth arts and foster culturally safe spaces for marginalised identities.

My arts practice was shaped by personal experiences of art as therapy, a means of self-empowerment and self-acceptance. As a gender queer young person of colour, my lived experiences are laden with intersectional discrimination and the battle against harmful effects this has on my well-being. As I move towards my future, with my past as a reminder in my back pocket, I’m always learning how to unpack the internalised harm and decolonising my modes of thinking and foster positive attitude of self-realisation for myself and others.

My lived experiences and learning from peers who have also been through similar experiences are very relevant to the core of my practice, guiding how I work with individuals in communities and build creative communities which value cultural safety and decoloniality. As an artist based on stolen Whadjuk Noongar land, it is my hope that I can support creative spaces that foster intercultural solidarity, amplify the voices of BIPOC folx (Black, Indigenous, and People of colour), and learning the truth about our cultural histories (colonial erasure and Western Euro-centrism sucks big time!).

NL: How did you meet? And how did you come to collaborate?
GL: We met while volunteering at Paper Mountain, an artist-run-initiative and gallery on William Street in Northbridge. One of the first projects we worked on was during KickstART Festival 2017 for WA Youth Week. Steve, who was the Festival Coordinator at the time, asked me to run a community workshop series and exhibition for migrant and refugee background youth, supported by OMI, Propel Youth Arts WA and North Metro TAFE. It was then that the ongoing community arts project Belonging was born.

SJF: I approached Gabby to ask if they wanted to run a series of art workshops for the Office of Multicultural Interests. It was all a bit last minute, and a process that was a bit stressful for Gabby, but they really stepped up. Belonging became a beautiful ongoing project. For the State Library exhibition, I spoke to Gabby as I was applying for the fellowship. Initially we were going to do two separate individual projects, but as we spoke together and organised community gatherings, we realised that the project needed a many-voices approach to the idea of Asian identity in WA, and so it became a group project we co-facilitated.

NL: You recently co-curated and presented Seasons, Histories, Hopes at the State Library of WA, a group exhibition about Asian migrant history in WA that is the culmination of the year-long research project Imagined Migrant Future. In the exhibition catalogue you talk about how the project evolved over the year. Can you talk us through that process of evolution, and what the project uncovered for you?
GL: The Western framework of archives, libraries and museums use the white gaze to constrict the living cultural practices and everyday objects of people into palatable stereotypes and racist imaginaries.

SJF: We entered the State Library space knowing this, but also assuming that people who work in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) Sector would be aware. What we found were State Library materials, signage, and processes that seemed unaware of the inherited racist structures they were replicating. We also experienced racism from some staff members; people who would tell us our research project was misguided or unimportant in focusing on Asian migration, or who would assume that we did not belong in the staff areas or that we must be cleaners. Our fellowship itself was named after James Sykes Battye, chief librarian of the State Library, who in his Cyclopedia of Western Australia only mentions Chinese people once, and that is in reference to there being a State budget surplus and a discussion by the government on acquiring cheap labour to further increase the surplus. I wish to mention that there were also staff members who were helpful and professional, that this is not about a series of isolated incidents, but about how ongoing racist structures are perpetuated by administrative organisations.

GL: Despite these disheartening experiences there was always a strong feeling of hope when we met with our exhibiting artists. Sitting together and discussing with other non-white people our struggles with racism, both external and internal, our specific cultural knowledge and histories, and being heard as humans rather than as racialised identities was incredibly empowering. We have documented a lot of our experiences and our histories in  the documentary Imagined Migrant Futures by Michelle Vuaillat and our exhibition catalogue.

NL: And you will be presenting a workshop this month as part of the Disrupted Festival of Ideas: Epistemicide in the Western Art Canon. Firstly, for those who don’t know, what is epistemicide?
SJF: Epistemicide is the colonial act of killing knowledges. It is a term used by Boaventura De Sousa Santos in the book Epistemologies of the South: Justice Against Epistemicide to describe how colonial powers destroy language, ancestral ties, memories and culture of subordinated groups. We’ve found this term useful in understanding current monologic expressions of culture. As local artists we’ve found that there is a violent process of meaning-making predicated on erasing and writing over the lived cultural truths of First Nations people and People of Colour that is, unfortunately, quite prevalent today, even from well-meaning individuals. And so we feel this is a much needed conversation to be had with our community.

NL: And what will the workshop involve?
SJF & GL: During the workshop we will be looking at the following ideas:

  • Unpacking the constructions of truth, particularly as defined by Western Euro-centric efforts at universal truths through the erasure of cultures, languages and diversity.
  • Specific histories that uncover cultural bias and theft, particularly during the Enlightenment and Modernity.
  • Identifying and discussing international/local decolonial art histories and repatriation efforts.
  • The effects of representation on lived and racialised bodies.
  • Reference to other efforts in decolonial thought and activism.
  • Fun!

NL: Who do you hope to see at the workshop? 
GL: We hope to meet an array of people who are art admirers, artists and art workers. They do not need to have any training/experience. However, we hope those with a keen interest in truth-telling will attend and learn how our histories are documented and shaped through art.

SJF: Anyone that has ever, like me, been seduced into liking Western culture and the Western art canon, and as a result have gone through periods of real self-doubt and self-hate and shame and racial dysphoria. This space is for you. These are the truths that have always been there. Your lived experience, your cultures, your childhood: they are all as valuable and deserving as any of this.

Disrupted: Festival of Ideas takes place at the State Library of Western Australia on July 27 and 28. It is a free event. 

“Epistemicide in the Western art canon” is fully booked but you can join the waitlist here.

 

Pictured top: Gabby Loo. Photo: Giselle Natassia Woodley.

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A winter theatre warmer

What goes into making theatre?

The Blue Room Theatre’s Winter Nights festival invites audiences to find out how work is made. With opportunities to meet artists at the beginning of their creative journey, witness the development of work in real-time, catch freshly minted works and enjoy conversations about culture, Winter Nights is full of reasons to brave the cold. Seesaw asked Blue Room Producer Harriet Roberts to talk you through her top picks of the program…

Keynote Lecture: On Theatre
“To formally open the festival, we’re establishing our own ritual of an opening night lecture from a cultural leader that we hope will become an enduring event on Perth’s arts calendar. This year, for the inaugural, Shelagh Magadza, executive director of the Chamber of Arts and Culture WA and former artistic director of Perth Festival, is exploring theatre as a ritual essential to our humanity. An apt beginning to the ritual of the lecture itself, I think.”

Saga Sisterhood
“A transformative performance project which sees a group of female-identifying South Asian artists take the stage to share their experiences of love, loss, life and strife. The Centre for Stories has partnered with Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, the performance poet featuring in Black Swan State Theatre Company’s Fully Sikh later this year, to lead a series of workshops and developments to amplify the voices of a new bunch of storytellers.”

 

The Lion Never Sleeps
“This participatory walking performance and audio tour through the streets of Northbridge takes audiences to places and spaces of the activism and community during the AIDS crisis in Perth. It’s a beautiful project that provides us with a slice of history and a moment to reflect on queer culture through the meditative activity of walking with a sound bubble of stories from those who were in the thick of it.”

 

The Jellyman
“After a first development with Kiss Club, creative Rhiannon Petersen continues her investigation into the demise of Jerry Hatrick, a crotchety old shit bag of a man, AKA her drag persona. Investigating power and identity in an age of progress, The Jellyman promises to be a strange and spoofy political work filled to the brim with rich visuals and with a genre-melding-mash of drag, puppetry, and performance art.”

Political Badassery with Van Badham
“The badass theme of Winter Nights 2019 is grounded in the presence of nationally renowned playwright, activist, political provocateur and cultural critic, Van Badham. We’ve seen her on Q&A and heard from her weekly column in The Guardian, now we can catch her on-stage in a facilitated discussion on theatre and politics, as she attends the Winter Nights festival to school local artists in theatre as a political event.”

Punch Up Club
“A satirical cabaret that sees Perth’s best improvisers (the gang that brought us Frankie’s) tackle the world’s current events with just 24 hours to prepare. With big characters, astute perspectives and quirky tales, you can’t get more up-to-speed than this.”

 

 

 

 

For Now
“Isaac Diamond, an emerging artist to watch for his sound design and performing prowess, takes on playwriting in his latest venture, For Now. Drawing inspiration from Mad Max to 1984 and local hit Lé Nør, this play crash lands into Mars’ desolation, interrogating opposing ideologies and the inherently human condition in an un-human environment.”

 

 

Winter Nights runs July 23 – August 3.

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Celebrating diversity

Dr Louise Devenish’s career as a percussionist has taken her around the world collaborating with a huge range of musicians and artists. Her wide-reaching approach to music making underpins the Gender Diversity in Music and Arts Conference which Devenish is convening next week at the UWA Conservatorium of Music. Seesaw mag caught up with Devenish to find out what gender diversity looks like.

Seesaw: The Gender Diversity in Music and Arts is the third in a series of national conferences focused on gender in the arts, building on the momentum generated from conferences at ANU (2017) and Monash (2018). What inspired you to host the conference in WA?

Louise Devenish: I am inspired by the strength and advocacy shown by Australian artists and academics on this issue, particularly Cat Hope, Vanessa Tomlinson, Claire Edwardes and Liza Lim.  I have seen the effects of their advocacy appearing in programming, education and in general visibility in certain areas of the arts. By hosting the conference in Perth, I hoped to add more voices to the discussion and create an opportunity for people to get together to talk about gender diversity, and to broaden the discussion to include organisation and individuals across a range of genres and approaches to music and art.

S: As a woman in the performing arts industry you’ve been intentional about commissioning and collaborating with women creatives, both as a solo artist and in your ensembles Decibel and Speak Percussion and Intercurrent. Now you are championing the topic at an academic level – is grassroots activism not enough?

LD: I think there is always more to be done in terms of championing equality, and that efforts across industry, academia, community are all equally important. Particularly in the context of how artists make work today – a large number of us epitomise the portfolio career and are therefore active in a range of spaces. At UWA, one of my roles is Diversity Chair within the Conservatorium, and even in the few years since I started here I have seen change in this space. This conference is a great opportunity to invite students, staff and peers to continue focused discussion around the issue, and to expand our efforts.

Artist in Residence Shoeb Ahmad. Photo supplied.

S: In the past few years there has been a renewed concern about the lack of visibility for women and people of diverse gender in the music industry. What difference does a conference like this one make?

LD: Like the 2018 event, GDIMA 2019 is designed to be a very open platform. Although it’s called a conference, it is not just about the presentation of research in the field of gender studies, but also in providing a platform for gender diverse artists to share work – in short an opportunity to increase visibility. I am thrilled that there are a range of performances and creative work being presented, from emerging through to established artists, well known and relatively unknown.

S: You have invited an impressive range of guest speakers and artists including Jennifer Walshe (Ireland), Robyn Schulkowsky (U.S.), Shoeb Ahmad, Sandy O’Sullivan, Nicole Monk and Vanessa Tomlinson. What do you hope they will bring to the discussion?

LD: All of these artists are total inspirations – both artistically, but also in their ability to talk about their work and about important topics related to it. With support from range of partners including the UWA School of Design, Institute of Advanced Studies and Tura New Music, we’ve been able to draw together a range of keynotes and artists in residence working in different artistic fields, at different stages of their career, and active in different cities to share their experience.

S: The #metoo movement has been a helpful catalyst in many arenas; has it brought more awareness to gender disparity in the arts?

LD: I think it has – and in fact one of the papers presented at the conference – ‘Teaching Women in Music in the #MeToo Era’ – will focus on exactly that. Come along!

S: Larger arts organisations seem to struggle to move beyond a male-dominated canon of art. However the small-to-medium organisations have been addressing gender diversity in their programming and commissioning for awhile now. Are there examples of what is working to redress the balance?

LD: The opening plenary session is aimed at this – we have invited representatives from small-to-medium and MPAs including WASO, Wa Opera, Pica, Tura and WA Music to speak about what each organisation is doing in this space. 10am, 17 July!

American percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky will be performing the Australian premiere of Armadillo. Photo by wowe.

S: The conference also includes three unique concerts with free access for the public. What can audiences expect?

All three are going to be fantastic. Armadillo will feature Robyn Shulkowksy’s work of the same name, performed by three generations of percussive women.  Shoeb Ahmad has drawn together an ensemble to perform their work in what promises to be a really fascinating lecture-recital. Decibel 10 and 10 is part of the ensembles 10 year anniversary celebrations, and features works by women composers from WA including a world premiere by Kate Milligan.

S: Can you see a future where we will no longer need conferences promoting gender diversity in the arts?

Not yet….but I am optimistic! The response to this conference has been overwhelming already – there is a clear interest in discussing and working on gender diversity at present. I hope that another Australian city will host this event in 2020 to continue the discussions…Brisbane, Adelaide or Sydney perhaps!

The Gender Diversity in Music and Art Conference runs July 16-19 at the UWA Conservatorium of Music. 
Concert 1 Armadillo is July 16.
Concert 2 Decibel 10 at 10 is July 18.

 

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Ben Burgess takes WAYO to infinity and beyond

From budding violin player to executive director, Ben Burgess has had a long association with the West Australian Youth Orchestra. Burgess chatted to Rosalind Appleby about a new commission and other innovations that are providing WAYO’s 400 young musicians with opportunities to reach for the stars.

Ben Burgess, executive director WAYO. Photo supplied

Seesaw: You’ve dedicated 14 years of your working life to this organisation. What is the appeal of working with the Western Australian Youth Orchestra?

Ben Burgess: The main appeal is giving young people fantastic performance opportunities and seeing young people grow and improve through all our groups, over many years.  We also have many individuals and organisations that support what we do which is always encouraging. Because it is a small team at WAYO you can really see the results of your hard work be it in concerts, sponsorship or funding.

S: WAYO has been around since 1974. Has the role of the organisation changed much over the years to attract new generations of audiences and musicians?

BB: WAYO’s core values have never changed but we have been able to introduce new programs such as the International Conductor Season and collaborations that add a new element to being in a youth orchestra program. We also invest time and resources in creating and promoting programs and concert that interest the concert-going public as well as our members.

S: Recently I’ve noticed a new focus on Australian composers, particularly women, with the commissioning of Melody Eotvos and the performance of a piece by Dulcie Holland this year. What has prompted this?

BB: WAYO’s last four commissions have been from Australian female composers which we have premiered on main stage concerts plus a work we toured internationally, and all our groups regularly perform Australian music. Recently and justifiably there has been some focus on bringing gender equality into programming but it’s something WAYO and the small-to-medium sector have been doing for many years, but possibly not everyone has realised.

Melody Eotvos’ Solar Wolvz will be premiered by WAYO on July 13. Photo supplied.

S: On July 13 WAYO’s flagship ensemble will perform Eotvos’ Solar Wolvz. Can you give us any clues as to what the piece is about?

Solar Wolvz is based on a very peculiar chain of ideas, all related to meteors, comets and any unpredictable objects in space. Inspired by the ghostly Spider Crater in the Kimberley region, the icy Oort Cloud that surrounds our solar system, and Ouamama (the only known interstellar object that has passed through our solar system), Solar Wolvz is a musical journey through time and space filled with brilliant orchestral colour.

S: The concert will be conducted by Benjamin Northey, Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, and Associate Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Why is it important to secure high profile conductors like Benjamin Northey to work with the orchestra?

BB: Many years ago, the idea of getting an international conductor straight off the professional circuit to spend a week with WAYO was a pipe dream. Now we have had 13 years of having conductors from all over the world come to Perth for a week. This program has meant the orchestra spend an intense week like a professional orchestra does instead of rehearsing once a week over a few months. It provides WAYO members with a glimpse of the professional world but in a supportive and exciting environment. One of the really nice things of the program is the enthusiasm the conductors themselves show in embracing the orchestra and working together for a week.

S: I still remember the thrilling feeling the first time I played in an orchestra. Did you participate in WAYO when you were studying oboe? What was it like? Was it a good stepping stone to a career in music?

BB: I was lucky enough to do WAYO both as a young violinist and later as an oboe player and spent upwards of 10 years as a member. It was a terrific experience musically and socially and it was a big and vital help when I later performed professionally in orchestras around Australia, and even later when I transitioned to arts management.

S: What is your favourite orchestral work?

BB: Anything by Richard Strauss, so likely Don Juan.

S: Under your directorship WAYO has experienced significant growth in audience and sponsorship partnerships, as well as international tours. What is your secret to success?

BB: WAYO has a lot of great people and organisations that believe in what we do and contribute in all sorts of ways. We honour the long tradition and history of what WAYO has done, but also look to continually improve it and be ambitious with new things that a youth orchestra typically isn’t known for. For example our collaborations with Orchestra of the Makers (Singapore), the Perth Festival and delivering special events for our major sponsors.

S: Where is the organisation heading next?

BB: In addition to our standard big concert seasons and our world famous Babies Proms, we are looking at more unique events and  collaborations within the Western Australian community and an international tour in a few years.

Benjamin Northey will conduct WAYO for the premiere of Solar Wolvz on July 13.

Pictured top: the West Australian Youth Orchestra performing with conductor Peter Moore. Photo: Andrew J Clarke Photography.

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