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12 December 2007

Orpheus Remix Awards

Orpheus Remix Awards
© courtesy of ABC Classic FM

When it comes to the notion of opera in Australia today, opinions are hugely diverse. For some, opera continues to hold its place as the ultimate form of musical expression; at the other end of the spectrum, it embodies the essence of music elitism. Seven professional artists – Gail Priest, Damian Barbeler, Constantine Koukias, Dave Noyze, Anthony Pateras & Robin Fox, and Amanda Stewart – have recently been exploring the role of opera in a commission to create a 4-minute musico-dramatic radio work as stimulus for the ABC's Orpheus Remix Awards.

For Sydney-based sound artist, writer and curator Gail Priest, opera, 'for the most part…is the elite cultural baggage'. So, in response to the ABC's commission, she wrote a mini-anti-opera. 'It is also the way in which everything is heightened', she explains on the ABC's website. 'The stories epic, the allegories too obvious – all sense of reality banished by decoration and virtuosic flourishes'. In Coffee this Morning there are ‘no heroes, no epic journeys, gods with grudges or family vendettas. Rather, there is a simple domestic moment, where a contemporary couple gets on with the flawed business of communication, trying to make sense of an existence shared, and of the small wounds inflicted on the way’. Gail's work, along with the other commissions, were premiered on 1 December on New Music Up Late and are now available for download on ABC Classic FM’s website.

The Orpheus Remix Awards, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo – the world’s first acknowledged opera, are offering creative artists the opportunity to explore their own concept of opera within the musically and sonically diverse context of contemporary radio and audio technology. The competition also provides creative artists with a chance to delve into Greek mythology: entrants must use at least one of the five downloadable samples from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (sampled with permission from the ABC Classics recording of Pinchgut Opera’s 2004 performances in Sydney) available on the Orpheus Remix website.

The Orpheus myth – with its resonances regarding the power of music, love, and a journey into the underworld – has been used as inspiration for many artists throughout history. Son of Calliope – the muse of poetry, Orpheus is said to be the inventor of music. The power of his singing enabled him to charm the animal kingdom, tempt trees into dance and even redirect rivers. Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo is based on the famous love story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus mourns the tragic death of Eurydice through song, causing all around him (including the gods) to weep in sadness. The gods allow him to visit Eurydice in the underworld and agree she may return with him to the living world on the condition that he doesn’t look back as she follows. He does, however, and she is forced to remain in Hades forever.

Along with having their work broadcast on ABC Radio National and ABC Classic FM and available for download from the ABC website, Award-winning entrants will each receive a paid commission to create a longer musico-dramatic work for radio in consultation with ABC Radio producers. Three Awards will be presented: The Night Air Choice Award, The New Music Up Late Choice Award and The Listeners’ Choice Award (chosen through online voting).

For more information contact Stephen Adams, Australian Music Unit, ABC Classic FM, phone 02 8333 2815 or e-mail adams.stephen@abc.net.au

Important Dates

Deadline for entries: 31 January 2008

Further Links

As a national service organisation, the Australian Music Centre is dedicated to increasing the profile and sustainability of Australian composers and other creative artists. The AMC facilitates the performance, awareness and appreciation of music by these artists through: composer and other creative artist representation and assistance; resonate – its online magazine; library and retail services; sheet music publishing; and the management, administration and publication of project-based initiatives. Its library collection holds over 30,000 items by more than 500 artists.


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