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Calendar, Music, Performing arts, September 19, Vocal

Music: Penny and Robert – Au Naturel!

13 & 14 September @ Kidogo Arthouse ·
Presented by Robert Hofmann and Penny Shaw ·

Seize this great opportunity to enjoy an enticing variety of music from the world of musical theatre in the intimate and atmospheric Kidogo Arthouse.  Singers Robert Hofmann, fresh from rave reviews in New York City and Penny Shaw, the brunette half of DivaLicious join forces with Tommaso Pollio, Perth’s most celebrated pianist.

Cabaret and opera veterans Penny and Robert will be singing Au Naturel. This does not mean (audiences will be relieved to know!) that they will be singing naked but rather without the wigs and elaborate character costumes of their hit cabaret shows performed at The Ellington, Downstairs at the Maj, New York City and Sydney Opera House.

Robert has performed several principal roles with WA Opera including Koko in The Mikado, Penny recently performed in their sold-out season of Sweeney Todd.

Bring in a drink from the beautiful Kelp Bar open from 6:30pm. Nibbles provided.

More info
W: www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=531690&
E:  roberthofmann15@gmail.com

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Calendar, Music, October 19, Performing arts

Ice Land: A Hip h’Opera

15-26 October @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company ·

Fractured like shards, Ash, Carly and Joy must fight the demons of their past to reclaim their future, but it’s not easy to leave behind the crystal meth plains of Ice Land.

With the flow of jazz, the soul of blues, the energy of electro and the power of  funk, Ice Land: A Hip H’Opera uses the language of hip hop to tackle a tough issue currently affecting our society – the plague of methamphetamine use.

Alongside a team that boasts some of Western Australia’s best artists, including Australian hip hop kings Downsyde, WA hip hop queen Layla, multi-disciplinary performer, musician and singer Moana Mayatrix of MOANA, and solo hip hop maestro Trooth, we explore a very timely subject and ultimately ask the question: if meth use continues to escalate within our communities, what is going to happen to our society as a whole?

Previews: 15 & 16 October
Opening night: 17 October

More info
W: yirrayaakin.com.au/production/ice-land/
E:  reception@yirrayaakin.com.au

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Close up photo of microphone head and words The Two of Us
Calendar, Choral, Music, Performing arts, September 19

Music: The Two of Us

14 September @ Beasley Auditorium, Perth Modern School ·
Presented by Voyces ·

For their second concert of 2019, Voyces presents The Two Of Us, a celebration of the lighter side of choral music. The program ranges from choral versions of  jazz standards through to an arrangement of a Canadian hip hop track and includes more traditional Voyces repertoire like Balleilakka, originally written by Indian music director, A. R. Rahman. The choir will also be joined by The Laura Igglesden  Trio, all graduates of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Voyces is a West Australian arts organisation whose focus is on the performance, production and promotion of contemporary choral repertoire, with Musical Director Dr. Robert Braham leading the ensemble through diverse and challenging choral music. Voyces was started in 2011 from a passion for creating and sharing the highest quality choral music in a vibrant and engaging setting that connects audiences and performers.

More info
W: events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/the-two-of-us-evening/tag/seesaw

Pictured: Voyces – The Two of Us

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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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August 19, Calendar, Music, Performing arts

Music: Tura Soup Nights 1

13 August @ The Sewing Room ·
Presented by Tura New Music ·

Tura’s monthly night of new sounds at The Sewing Room.
This Month Featuring:
Hi. Ok, Sorry.
Lana Rothnie
Ben Agüero
Great Statue
Movement: Jacinta Larcombe / Olivia Hendry / Lilly King / Umairah Murtaza.

Tura presents an evening of evolving club beats, off-kilter house, and elusive positions in a conversation between improvised movement and experimental electronic music. This club-night-gone-weird features live sets from local electronic musicians paired with live improvised dance from movement artists. Sounds from Lana Rothnie, Ben Aguero and Hi. Ok, Sorry. Shapes from Olivia Hendry, Lilly King, Jacinta Larcombe and Umairah Murtaza. Multivalent voicings drift up from the basement; motions becoming below; sounds and shapes in odd conversation.

More info
W: http://www.tura.com.au
E:  tristen@tura.com.au

Pictured: HI.Ok.Sorry by Derren Hall

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August 19, Calendar, Music, Performing arts

Music: Lionel Marchetti Residency and National Tour

26 August @ The Sewing Room, Wolf Lane, Perth ·
Presented by TURA New Music ·

French Musique Concrète artist Lionel Marchetti returns to Australia for a series of concerts and residences. Lionel will work with composition students WAAPA in a week long composition residency before working with long time collaborators Decibel New Music Ensemble. Decibel and Lionel will present a series of concerts together, the first being at the Sewing Room on Monday the 26th August. Entitled Partition Concrète, this will be an atmospheric concert of delicate but at times surprising sounds.

The recent release of a recording of these works, on Brisbane Label Room 40, was named ‘a masterpeice’ in Italian music magazine ToneShift, and was listed on Nicola Orlandino’s “Best Artworks of 2018” list.

The Sewing Room is at 317 Murray Street (Basement) Wolf Lane, Perth WA 6000

More info
W: www.tura.com.au/lionel-marchetti-residency-national-tour/
E:  info@tura.com.au

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August 19, Calendar, Music, Performing arts

Music: Joy Division Orchestrated

9 August @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by Teg Dainty & Nice Events ·

The group’s original bassist Peter Hook, The Metropolitan Orchestra & guests come together to perform the catalogue of one of the world’s most celebrate bands.Celebrating one of the most influential bands ever, Joy Division’s legendary bass player Peter Hook, including special guests and a full orchestra will put the group’s most famous works in an immersive show that recognises their role in shaping popular culture and the influence they continue to hold.

Curated by Hook and with Musical Director Tim Crooks taking care of the orchestration,  the concerts are the first time that an original member of the group has taken part in such a project. Joy Division Orchestrated pairs up musically the elements of post-punk that characterised Joy Division’s ground-breaking sound, with the orchestration – paying homage to the spirit which defines their heritage.

Given the band’s iconic legacy, the arrangements of classical Joy Division will be presented in a state-of-the-art setting with the highest standards of production. The band’s landmark tracks are to be featured in Joy Division Orchestrated, including from the band’s debut album Unknown Pleasures – considered by many the finest debut release by any group. Meanwhile the follow-up Closer is described as a “start to finish masterpiece” (Pitchfork).

A night of nostalgia not to be missed!

More info
W: www.perthconcerthall.com.au/events/event/joy-division-orchestrated-featuring-peter-hook?promo=2741
E: boxoffice@perthconcerthall.com.au

Pictured: Joy Division Orchestrated

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Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Trio play out of their skins

Review: University of Western Australia & Tura New Music, Armadillo ·
University of Western Australia, 16 July ·
Review by Jonathan W. Marshall ·

A percussion trio led by American Robyn Schulkowsky has performed one of the concerts of the year as part of the international Gender Diversity in Music and Art Conference at the University of West Australia.

The Australian premiere of Schulkowsky’s 30-year-old work Armadillo is the first of three evening performances over the four-day conference  this week, in addition to a wide range of academic discussions about historic female artists, contemporary queer music, and feminist sound art.

Two more concerts round out the conference performance program at the the UWA Conservatorium of Music, presented by UWA and Tura New Music. Decibel new music ensemble, led by Cat Hope, offers a survey of compositions by contemporary Australian female composers as part of its 10th anniversary (Decibel 10 at 10) on July 18. Queensland percussionist Vanessa Tomlinson closes the conference with a performance in the UWA Tropical Garden on July 19.

Schulkowsky is a veteran of the US and German experimental scene, having worked with Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman, and many others, principally in the role of performer/interpreter. In devising Armadillo, she was inspired partly by Mayan calendrical cycles and numerological groupings.

As performed by Schulkowsky with Tomlinson and UWA head of percussion Louise Devenish, Armadillo is a mercurial, endlessly surprising work. Small, semi-detached rhythmical items rest within other inconsistent, larger groupings, which intermittently break out, or cause the piece to morph in time signature and/or sonic texture.

Although peppered with extended, cumulative agitations of the cymbals and tam-tam (or gong), it is first and foremost a piece for drums. It is amazing the amount of sonic variation that Schulkowsky, especially, coaxes from these instruments as the piece develops in time.

There is a brief passage of Brazilian batucada-style drumming, with sharply-attacked bongos leading, but this is soon dispersed into a more effervescent set of motifs. Steve Reich’s highly repetitive, minimalist drumming is evoked when the three performers settle into a groove which feels like it could last all night. But on the whole, the shimmering effects and phasing so loved of Reich is absent here.

Armadillo is therefore more properly called a work which at times settles into a minimalistic lockstep, as rhythmic patterns are lovingly repeated. The highly asymmetric time signatures required Schulkowsky in particular to, very comfortably it seemed, pump out one rhythm with her foot on the cymbal hi-hat pedal, and an entirely different one with her sticks in her hands on the toms. This puts Armadillo ultimately within another musical and stylistic space to Reich or Latin percussion, although Schulkowsky is clearly influenced by both.

Another striking element of the performance is the rise and fall of intensity which is modulated through how the drums are approached. Schulkowsky and her collaborators however often combine a strike to the drum with a kind of dampening or pressing effect. When performing as a trilogy, the usual mode is to come together for several minutes, then one performer drops away, the others continue, and then the first returns before another drops out. In this turn taking, volume and textural density rise and fall. One needs a careful ear to attend to the very subtle layering of material.

Schulkowsky definitely loves her instruments. I have never seen a performer with such a deft touch on the skins of the drums. While Tomlinson and Devenish are also superb, Schulkowsky all but strokes her instruments. She bashes, coaxes, rubs, caresses and finger-thunks these items. As she rocks gently back and forth, or looks off in absorption upwards and to one side, we in the audience also move to another place with her; a place of objects, surfaces, drum-skins, and musical sublimity.

This was one of the most extravagantly wonderful and awe-inspiring Perth concerts of the last few years: please bring Schulkowsky back!

The Gender Diversity in Music and Art Conference ends on July 19.

Pictured at top: Vanessa Tomlinson, Robyn Schulkowsky and Louise Devenish. Photo by Tristen Parr.

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9 choir members
August 19, Calendar, Music, Performing arts

Music: Giovanni Consort @ Government House Ballroom

11 August @ Government House Ballroom ·
Presented by The Giovanni Consort ·

For 24 years, The Giovanni Consort has been delighting Perth audiences with beautiful harmonies and imaginative concerts. The Consort has become renowned for its exquisite, high-quality performances of unaccompanied choral music ranging from the medieval period to the present day.

Some of Perth’s best voices join forces to present diverse and engaging musical programs and the Government House Foundation is delighted to present this fine group in a popular and wide ranging program.

More info
W: perthconcerthall.com.au/events/event/giovanni-consort
E:  giovanniconsort@gmail.com

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