17 October 2014
Australian Art Orchestra - 20th anniversary series 5-7 November 2014
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Australian Art Orchestra I have curated a series of three concerts aimed at highlighting this extraordinary ensemble's history, while also looking to its future.
The first two concerts (on 5 and 6 November) consist of four acoustic solo performances per night in the ANAM Quartetthaus, which is a bespoke 50-seat circular venue with a central, slowly turning, stage. Quartetthaus is a demountable venue, currently in place outside ANAM at the South Melbourne Town Hall. It was designed by Melbourne designers, Bluebottle, for performance of string quartets and it is rare to hear improvised music in this most rarified of settings. These concerts are completely unique and provide an unprecedented opportunity to hear some of the most celebrated musicians in Australian jazz and improvised music alone and up very, very close.
These solo concerts also offer an opportunity to hear what makes the AAO different to any other orchestra or any other music ensemble in the country. The Australian Art Orchestra is an orchestra of individuals, and the Quartetthaus series offers an unrepeatable chance to hear eight very different, completely personal approaches to improvisation - then, the very next evening, hear how these individual musical languages come together in the context of the full 20-piece orchestra for our '20Up' gala performance.
'20Up' sees the AAO return to the place of its first concert: the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne. A total of twenty-five musicians will perform a range of works from Ringing the Bell Backwards, the first work written for the AAO by founding artistic director Paul Grabowsky - the work premiered at the Malthouse in 1994; Testimony, Sandy Evans's extraordinary tribute to Charlie Parker; Struttin', Eugene Ball's impressionistic take on Louis Armstrong, and a brand-new commission called Virtuoso Pause from young composer Austin Buckett .
Austin is part of an exciting new generation of composers making an international mark with a distinctive postmodern vision. He works across the genres of electronica, hip-hop, jazz, experimental and classical music, and brings all these influences to bear in his music. Virtuoso Pause was commissioned with the support of APRA and is the first in a series of AAO Young Composer Commissions.
Austin Buckett is also one of several new performers and collaborators introduced to the AAO since I became artistic director at the beginning of last year. One of my aims with this program was to include some new faces and new approaches. In addition to Austin, the program features experimental turntablist/DJ Martin Ng, Papuan-born vocalist and rising young pop star, Ngaiire, bassist Sam Pankhurst, violinist Lizzy Welsh, and incredible young trombonist James Macaulay.
Alongside these extraordinary younger players are many of the AAO founding members including Scott Tinkler (trumpet), Paul Grabowsky (piano), Niko Schauble (drums), Sandy Evans (saxophone), Vanessa Tomlinson (percussion), Phil Rex (bass) and Adrian Sherriff (bass trombone).
Want to hear the past, present and future of Australian jazz? Come to these events:
Wednesday 5 November - solos: Scott Tinkler trumpet, Vanessa Tomlinson percussion, Austin Buckett various devices, Gian Slater voice.
Thursday 6 November - solos: Sandy Evans saxophones, Martin Ng battery operated turntables, Erkki Veltheim violin, Sam Pankhurst double bass.
Thursday 7 November - 20Up Gala Performance: Paul Grabowsky piano/conductor; Austin Buckett piano; Erkki Veltheim & Lizzy Welsh violins; Phil Noy, Lachlan Davidson, Sandy Evans, Tony Hicks, Mirko Guerrini saxophones; Scott Tinkler, Eugene Ball, Paul Williamson trumpets; Adrian Sherriff & James Macaulay trombones; Geoff Hughes guitars; Peter Knight electronics/trumpet; Martin Ng turntables; Vanessa Tomlinson percussion; Phil Rex & Sam Pankhurst basses; Niko Schauble & Allan Browne drums; Gian Slater, Ngaiire, Dan Barnett voices.
Please note: Quartetthaus solo concerts seats are extremely limited, so bookings are essential via www.aao.com.au.
© Australian Music Centre (2014) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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Composer, trumpeter and sound artist Peter Knight is the Artistic Director of the Australian Art Orchestra.
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