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23 February 2022

Konzertprojekt: Storytelling Through Music and Art

Konzertprojekt Image: Konzertprojekt  
© Nick Bakopolous-Cooke

Sound Stories is a two-part art music concert series that is centred upon storytelling through music and art. Thanks to the generosity of the City of Sydney and St. Stephen's Uniting Church, it's the first in-person event that Konzertprojekt has been able to hold in almost three years, and includes a program of chamber, solo and audiovisual works. Part 2, which presented both electroacoustic works and the seven-piece Ensemble MUSE, took place on the 12th of February; Part 1 features soloists Michael Burden and Hannah Buckley next to wind quintet Ensemble Terra, and has been rescheduled to the 25th of March ─ an unfortunate event for our concert-naming conventions.

It's been amazing to feel the gears begin to turn once more for our Sydney-based new music collective. For Sound Stories, we've been able to curate an all-Australian program, as well as commission nine local artists to produce seven new works - Ariel Bonnell, Gabrielle Cadenhead, Rosa Clifford, Christine Pan and Bea Brabante, myself and Keesha Field, Rhys Little, and Sophie Van Dijk. These commissions from up-and-coming voices produced work with a stunning variety in approach, genre and style; the proof and fire for widening the scope of the Sydney arts music scene. Two of those commissions being collaborative audiovisual pieces marks Konzertprojekt's first steps into facilitating interdisciplinary arts collaboration!

When we're able to foreground the stories told by emerging and diverse composers, we're then able to demonstrate how absolutely vital the stories they have to tell are to our local culture. Our commissioned artists, both members and peers of Konzertprojekt, have responded to us by producing a sophisticated breadth of work, from lively solo vocal pieces to stunning chamber compositions, to intricately-animated soundscapes.

To perform these commissions, Konzertprojekt is working with the incredible Ensemble Terra and Ensemble MUSE, whose performances become such a deeply formative part of the story being told.

A key principle at the heart of Konzertprojekt is making new music and its diversity accessible for our community and peers. For Sound Stories, free tickets are an important feature. During the ticketing process, we've also invited the audience to submit stories to be improvised upon live by chosen performers. When an audience is allowed the agency to directly impact the creation of the music they're hearing, it forges a deeply personal, requited relationship with it. The experience becomes sacred, and sparks a connection with new art music that becomes its lifeblood.

A new step for programming for Konzertprojekt, Ensemble MUSE's improvisations cemented them as fun and highly engaging parts of the Part 2 concert program. The first story selected was an audience member describing their early experience with progressive bilateral hearing loss and learning Auslan, alongside picking up their first instrument, the drum kit. It was performed by percussionist Kaylie Dunstan with a small kit setup: two toms, a cymbal and a woodblock. Her improvisation was beautifully thoughtful and striking; honouring the complexity of the story by weaving in Auslan throughout her playing, which grew gradually quieter until she was only miming.

The second was a small, sweet tale about feeding a bird some seed before it flies away. Flautist Chloe Chung, pianist Katarina Grobler and clarinetist Candela Tennent Serra brought a vivid colour and life to this bird with tremolos and flutter tongue in their bright, yet delicate interpretation of the story.

Though it took scheduling and rescheduling over the course of many unpredictable months, Sound Stories Part 2 sold out the day before the concert, to our complete and utter surprise ─ a moving testament to the importance of the music and performances that were featured, Ensemble MUSE and our commissioned artists. Part 1 offers a completely new approach to storytelling with its own unique instrumentation. It includes solo soprano and violin works, and Ensemble Terra in a new five-piece iteration performing pieces by Deborah Cheetham, Victoria Pham and James Hazel, with rumours of some wild euphonium improvisations.

When underrepresented artists, their unique approaches, and accessibility to their work are key parts of the Australian arts scene, it grows remarkably richer and stronger. Being able to share our platform with an array of incredibly talented emerging composers, performers, and artists during Sound Stories is an honour that Konzertprojekt finds itself very lucky to undertake.

Sound Stories: Part 1 (rescheduled) takes place on March 25th, 7pm, at St. Stephen's Uniting Church.

Maddy Briggs is an electroacoustic composer based in Sydney. Her practice centres upon the digital elaboration and explosion of acoustic instruments, weaved together into highly textural, ambient soundscapes. The current Vice President of Konzertprojekt, she is co-curator of their 2022 Sound Stories series alongside Gabrielle Cadenhead.


Konzertprojekt is a new music collective with inclusivity at our core. Focusing on emerging artists, we curate concerts which feature composers and performers of diverse genders, cultural backgrounds, sexualities and abilities, and seek to cultivate a vibrant community of living music strengthened by the different voices it presents.


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