“Not All Who Wonder Are Last”—Bowlines CD launch 2018

World-class Melbourne improv string trio BOWLINES releases second album

Three of Australia’s leading improvising bowed string players, Bowlines, will launch their new CD, Not All Who Wonder Are Last, on Sunday 7 October at Carlton Church of All Nations.

Not All Who Wonder Are Last is a wellspring of sparkling improvised instrumental music created by Australia’s leading klezmer violinist, Ernie Gruner, with virtuoso players Helen Mountfort (cello; Cosmo Cosmolino) and Hope Csutoros (violin, viola; The Stiletto Sisters, Circus Oz).
The recording captures the trio’s inspired interplay, their musical brilliance, and the love, trust and respect they bring to each other, their music, and the moment.
The CD is true to the trio’s collaborative and creative sensibilities in every way, with input from artists including storyteller Niki Na Meadhra. Niki’s choice of the title Not All Who Wonder Are Last is a beautiful word play on J R R Tolkien’s “Not all those who wander are lost” line from the poem “All that is gold does not glitter” (Lord of the Rings). It speaks to the notion that slowing down to wonder may be at first a delay, but ultimately it is an enhancement of pace, focus and direction in a creative journey.
Like watching a flock of birds circling at dusk, engaging in an unexpectedly enlivening conversation with a stranger at a party, or turning—on a whim—to saunter down an unfamiliar path, Not All Who Wonder Are Last evokes a sense of exploration, playful whimsy and the inherent value of taking time to wonder and ponder.
The launch concert will be a theatrical and musical extravaganza, featuring improvised music from Ernie, Hope and Helen, along with creative contributions from Adam Simmons (saxophone, flute, clarinet and words), Karen Berger (hang drum), and members of the Melbourne Playback Theatre Company as well as Travel Art Theatre Company.
Bowlines concerts are a breath-taking experience for audiences, inviting them to dive into a rich and intense new world of ephemeral music. The players’ melodies curve and weave, together and apart, creating harmonies that fill the space and reach into the heart. In the words of one audience member, “… it’s inspiring to be in the presence of the communion, the communication, the listening, the connection between the musicians and to receive the gift of their musical creation, happening in the moment”.
Their CD launch will offer Melbourne audiences a rare opportunity to hear these three world-class string musicians creating new music in the moment and inviting others to experience the magical and transformative power of collective improvisation.



ABOUT BOWLINES

Ernie Gruner formed the Bowlines trio in 2012 to create new improvised music by virtuoso bowed string players from eclectic backgrounds with a shared passion for improvising. The group’s music is inspired by The Necks (Australian experimental jazz trio), Coolangubra (atmospheric, genre-defying music), Kronos Quartet (celebrated contemporary US string quartet) and Born In A Taxi (improvisational theatre). Not All Who Wonder Are Last is Bowlines’ second CD (their debut was Circling Strangers).

MUSICIAN BIOS

Ernie Gruner (violin/viola, octave violin)
Ernie is widely recognised as Australia’s leading klezmer violinist and a significant contributor to the development of Australia’s world music scene (earning him a profile in Seth Jordan’s 2010 book World Music: Global Sounds in Australia).
Ernie has co-founded, performed, recorded with and guested in countless bands, theatre and cabaret groups, at countless major festivals and concert venues. He appeared twice on ABC TV’s musical quiz program, Spicks and Specks, and has more than 75 recording credits to his name.
His studies in New York, Kracow, Budapest and Montreal have helped him develop a technical brilliance that gives wings to his love of improvised music, resulting in inspired performances across multiple genres including klezmer, jazz, blues, Latin, art music, and folk (Middle Eastern, Balkan, Irish, Australian bush, gypsy), as well as in cabaret and theatre.
Renowned for his ambitious and ingenious musical collaborations, and as a much-loved fellow musician on the world music scene, he’s been a member of Dya Singh band (Sikh), Kalinka (European), Zingara (world/gypsy), Howlin’ Wind Band (world/rock) and accompanied Zulya Kamalova, Kavisha Mazzella, Bronwyn Calcutt, Gypsy Fire – Matthew Fagan, Texicali Rose (mariachi) Colin Reid, Brahim Benim (Moroccan), Afandi Siyo (Oromo/East African). As a classical musician, Ernie led the Monash String Quartet for 10 years and was an orchestral violinist.
His theatre involvement and collaborations include Melbourne Playback Theatre, Cafe Scheherezade, Progress and Melancholy, Our Chalk Circle, Dante, Russian Soup , Emma Celebrazione, Blue Absinthe and cabaret with Jugularity.

Hope Csutoros (violin, viola) (left hand side of photo)
Hope Csutoros studied at the Victorian College of the Arts and the Budapest Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary. Performances and touring overseas includes My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Stiletto Sisters, Circus Oz, State Orchestra of Victoria, Phantom of the the Opera, David Chesworth Ensemble, Chamber Made Opera, and Deflocked String Quartet. Her recording credits include Midnight Oil, Deborah Conway, Mark Seymour and Renee Geyer.

Helen Mountfort (cello) (centre of photo)
Helen Mountfort performs with Fine Blue Thread, Cosmo Cosmolino and Not Drowning, Waving. She was a member of DeFlocked, improvising string quartet, and also David Chesworth Ensemble and My Friend The Chocolate Cake. She has recorded with many Australian artists including Missy Higgins, Archie Roach, Paul Kelly, Midnight Oil, Renee Geyer, Mark Seymour and the John Butler Trio.

SPECIAL GUESTS—BOWLINES CD LAUNCH

Adam Simmons (saxophone)
A virtuoso player of saxophones, clarinets, flute and shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Adam Simmons stretches the boundaries of modern composition and infuses a sense of wonder and playfulness into musical art forms better known for their gravitas. His performances are not so much ‘concerts’ as staged auditory spectacles—drawing audiences in to share in the uniquely communal power and euphoria of his music and art. He has a rare and uncanny ability to elicit the very best from the highly accomplished musicians he works with, as well as evoking spine-tingling emotion and rapturous applause from audiences.

Karen Berger (hang drum)
Karen has worked in Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe as a director, musical director, actor and musician. Career highlights include: devising and performing in an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First winning show, Believer (1992); improvising fairy stories for Bosnian children in Slovenian refugee camps (1993); musical directing and performing in a dance/music piece at the Melbourne City Baths, Walk on Water (2000); devising and directing a West African tour of Ashanti short stories, Who Stole Daawa’s Tail? (2004); playing teapot for the Melbourne International Arts Festival and Singapore International Children’s Festival in the Teapot Ensemble of Australia (2007) and co-directing ‘Forest Beats’, an outdoor circus show with 300 Zambian street children (2013).
Last year she was commissioned by the Dandenong Ranges Music Council to compose Bells of Peace for the Federation Bells at Birrarung Marr.
The original Hang (meaning ‘hand’ in Bernese German) was created in Switzerland in 2000. It uses some of the same basic physical principles as a steelpan, but modified in such a way as to act as a Helmholtz resonator – i.e. Air resonance in a cavity. Each note has a complex range of harmonics.

Travel Art Dance Company
Founded in 2003, Travel Art Dance Company brings together dancers from a range of dance and movement backgrounds, with the motivation behind the group being the combination of choreographed and improvised dance in a performance context. The experience of the dancers in the group ranges from contemporary dance, classical ballet, improvisation and creative dance to yoga, gymnastics, acrobalance, circus skills and martial arts.

Melbourne Playback Theatre Company
Melbourne Playback is a leading interactive theatre company that has been creating performances, professional training and workshops which transform, empower and entertain for over 30 years. They use personal story and the principles of improvisation as ways to awaken new perspectives.


NOT ALL WHO WONDER ARE LAST—CD DETAILS

by Bowlines
Release date: October 2018
Name of album : Not All Who Wonder Are Last
Artist : Bowlines
Musicians: Ernie Gruner (violin, viola, octave violin), Helen Mountfort (cello), Hope Csutoros (violin, viola)
Genre/s : World / improvised / art music / strings / classical
Recorded: Live at Northcote Uniting Church, Victoria, Australia, 30 October 2016
Recorded by: Nao Anzai and Yasutomo Umeki
Mixed & mastered by : Nao Anzai, Toys Of Noise
Australian distribution : Readings Carlton (309 Lygon St, Carlton), Captain Stomp (46 Forest Rd, Ferntree Gully) and L’Espresso Ballarat (417 Sturt St)
Via Ernie Gruner ernie@erniegruner.com ($20 inc postage within Aus)
Digital: https://bowlines.bandcamp.com/
Label : Independent
Cover art : Jamie de Rooij, DesignCrowd
CD layout : Implant Media
Photography : Rowan Gruner, Shawket Husseini
CD and track titles by: Niki Na Meadhra, storyteller

Track list :

  1. The Question Is The Key 3:14
  2. Rowing Into Sunlight 1:41
  3. The Traveller’s Dog 0:33
  4. Over The Hills To Faraway 0:33
  5. Unexpected Descent 0:33
  6. The Asking 3:16
  7. When Every Door Is Closed 2:51
  8. The Crone’s Advice 3:44
  9. The Horse Knows The Path Through 3:27
  10. Defeated By The Journey 3:37
  11. The Veil Is A Door 3:22
  12. Return To Home And Hearth 3:30
  13. A Home Outgrown 6:22
  14. Learning To Walk In New Shoes 4:44
Bowlines CD cover art

Our ecosystems are in decline, and this matters

This is my submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Ecosystem Decline in Victoria. Submissions close on 31 August 2020.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone…”—Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this inquiry, and I applaud the government’s attention to this pressing issue.

Australia’s unique plants and critters, and their myriad complex relationships, are both endlessly fascinating and critically important to our world. One tiny example is the Nodding Greenhood Orchid (Pterostylis nutans), endemic to our southeastern coast. Its only known pollinator is a particular species of fungus gnat, which it entices by emitting a kairomone. When the orchid flower senses the right sort of gnat landing near its labellum, it tips the insect into the flower. Wriggling around to escape, the gnat contacts the flowers’ sexual organs and stimulates pollination. It is not known how valuable this entrancing interaction may be to humans, but a similar example from across the world, the Vanilla Orchid (Vanilla planifolia), gives us a glimpse of its culinary and medicinal possibilities. Native to Central America, the Vanilla Orchid is thought to be (i.e. it remains a mystery to science) pollinated in the wild only by a species of stingless bee and/or hummingbird, and requires laborious hand-pollination in cultivation. Originally cultivated by Aztec peoples in the 15th Century, vanilla is now used worldwide in commercial and domestic baking, perfume production, and aromatherapy, and is the second-most expensive spice after saffron. We can’t imagine life without vanilla.

Please bear with me; this seemingly random little story underscores the premise of my submission, which is that our richly biodiverse ecosystems are crucial to us in ways we may never know. And, further, that ecosystem health is critical to humankind’s very existence. However, it is apparent that our increasingly individual-focused and city-based society is blinding us to the importance of the natural world. If we care at all, it’s usually because of an emergency (such as the 2020 Southeastern Australian bushfires), and because we focus on individual and charismatic plants and animals (not that this has protected them from destruction) to the exclusion of the habitats needed to sustain them. We’re oblivious to the consequences of our own destructive actions (e.g. throwing a cigarette butt into a gutter, bulldozing a patch of grassland to make way for a new housing development, waving through approval for a new mine or dam or feedlot), seeing them as somehow separate from the unfolding environmental devastation we see on the news.

I believe what’s needed to arrest the catastrophic decline in our ecosystems is a quantum shift in thinking, from seeing ourselves as individuals operating in our own bubble separate from nature, to seeing ourselves as fundamentally and inextricably connected with all living things and reliant on biodiverse ecosystems to breathe, live, and survive. An example of a need for a shift in thinking is this inquiry itself: holding a state-based ecosystem inquiry is almost an oxymoron. I mean no disrespect when I say that it seems bizarre to me to investigate ecosystems as if they start and stop at our arbitrarily/politically-drawn borders. However, the best chance we have to coordinate and protect biodiversity efforts across state borders, the national Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, is failing dismally. It’s currently under review as well, but any national law that allows states to determine their own logging, water allocation, wildlife protections and the like, is problematic.

To complicate things further, Australians appear to possess a collective cognitive dissonance when it comes to our environment: we live on the driest inhabitable continent on earth and yet we squander potable water on an unfathomable scale. We have one of the greatest levels of solar coverage per square metre in the world, and yet we have no coherent national solar power policy. We’re blessed as one of the top 10 biodiverse countries in the world, with the majority of our flora and fauna species found nowhere else, and yet we continue to drive these unique species to extinction at a depressingly inexorable rate. In the face of rising salinity, soil erosion, catastrophic bushfires, dieback, and other dire indicators of ecosystem decline, we stubbornly keep growing the wrong crops, raising the wrong livestock, wasting water, clearing bushland, over-developing and over-building land, fragmenting ecosystems, allowing entire species to go extinct, and bulldozing, burning, clear-felling and culling.

However, I believe that we ignore the interconnectedness of all things, at our peril.

Here’s what I offer:

  • We need to stop seeing wildlife as pests and native vegetation as unproductive, ugly, or an infinite resource to be plundered.
  • We need to look at our environment and all that dwells therein as inherently valuable, precious, connected, and irreplaceable.
  • We must instil a reverence for our flora and fauna that begins at birth, is taught at schools and universities, and is fundamental to every choice we make as citizens, workers, governments, businesses, and custodians of this incredibly country.
  • Respect, awe and love for our unique environment must be reflected in robust, coordinated and powerful national, state, local government legislation. The rights of individuals and vested interests can no longer take priority over our environment.
  • Embrace and integrate Indigenous knowledge into all aspects of our environmental policies, approaches and activities.


Thank you for your consideration,
Kind regards,

Diana Wolfe

Impermanence with without Band Photo by WILK

Impermanence trio—new music launch, listening parties

Preview and Q&A with Bianca Gannon
By Sue Barrett

From time to time, music emerges that touches souls and captures hearts with its atmosphere, improvisation and unexpected and/or improbable sound combinations.
Australian trio Impermanence has just launched a double album, with // without. The trio consists of Bianca Gannon (piano, mixed Indonesian gamelan); Josh Holt (double bass, bass guitar); and Elliott Hughes (trumpet, augmented trumpet).
Described as a “fusion of neo-classical, experimental art music, and freeform jazz”, Impermanence’s music brings to mind the rural isolation of a country like Ireland – sometimes ethereal; sometimes stormy; sometimes uncomplicated; sometimes complex.
Bianca Gannon grew up in Ireland and studied in Wales.


In what ways has living in Ireland and in Wales influenced your music?
In this trio, I’m not sure that my Irish heritage comes through in an obvious way, though the ubiquity of music in Ireland – diverse music – has certainly left its mark. I did my music degree in Wales and learnt a lot about various forms of music, particularly art music, and music from around the world, such as gamelan from Indonesia. I was deeply drawn to the otherworldly resonances and syncopated interlocking rhythms of the gamelan pitched percussion orchestras. A few years later, living in Ireland again, I had the opportunity to join a gamelan. An Irish woman had been studying in Indonesia and brought back a full gamelan set – which was the one we were using at University College, Dublin. Later the Sultan of Yogyakarta gifted a gamelan to An Ceoláras Náisiúnta (National Concert Hall). From there, I embarked on the Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship – intensive cultural study in West Java, followed by many more study trips and collaborations across the archipelago.

What brought you to Australia?
My partner – Josh Holt – is from Australia and he’s also the bass player in our trio.

Tell us about Impermanence’s album, with // without
It’s an improvised, double album. Disc 1 (with) includes electronic components. And Disc 2 (without) is without electronics. You’ll hear a lot of different sounds and emotions. Our music is quite organic – it moves in and out of groove, in and out of time. It can be free and floating – ethereal. And, at other times, it has a pulse and time signature – it can get quite rhythmic. I think overall the music creates a feeling of space and expanse. We first improvised the music and afterwards christened the tracks.

How did Impermanence come about? And did you set out to have a trio with this combination of instruments or was it just an happy coincidence?
Elliott [Hughes], our trumpet player, and I met at the Australian Art Orchestra’s Creative Music Intensive residency in Tasmania, where we were put in an ensemble with a bunch of musicians from Sydney. When we got back to Melbourne, we continued to play together. Then we became participants in the Lebowski’s Development Residency in Melbourne – a six month residency. One day, Elliott was rehearsing at my house and Josh joined us on bass, which was another piece of the puzzle, another layer of unity.Elliott invented the augmented trumpet – he uses a trumpet with a device he 3D printed that attaches to the valves and tracks finger movement. It’s extraordinary the sounds that he’s making in real time – at times like an orchestra of the future and at other times quite an electronic sound – with beautiful, unique timbres.

What does it take for musicians to successfully improvise? How does Impermanence approach this?
A deep knowledge of your craft and of your instrument, as well as a healthy dose of reckless abandon. Curiosity. Really, really listening to your band mates. Letting go of your ego a little bit, at times. And a bit of risk taking. But certainly we do prepare for gigs, we do rehearse. We try to approach performances as a stream of consciousness, playing in the moment. In a performance, we might play for 45 minutes straight, continuously. But in our rehearsals, we typically play for five or ten minutes at a time, then discuss and then try new exercises (for example, duos, flipping the roles of the instruments). Each piece of music is a once-off. So for the album, like our performances, the music was totally improvised on the spot, with no preconceptions. The start of a piece is always a surprise – whoever is feeling ready jumps in and starts. Often a set is one continuous work. And sometimes themes from the beginning return later, re-orchestrated with a different instrument or in a different key. We all try to centre ourselves a bit before performing. Elliott and Josh both close their eyes a lot – I think they really like to go within. Personally, I like to watch them quite a bit – I feel it gives me more of a sense of what they are going to do and allows me to better synchronise movements and synchronise rhythms. We play together as an ensemble, but at times there’s a soloist or just two people playing or two people playing accompaniment and one person playing a melody.

What were some of the challenges in recording the album?
We recorded it in different booths, thinking we could manage the sound better. But in the end, that didn’t fully work – some sound still bled through. Being in different booths made it really hard to hear each other. We’re also used to being very close together when playing, but I think we could really draw on that connection and intuition despite our physical distance in the studio.

Tell us about your upcoming listening parties
For the listening parties, we are going to be playing music based on the album. The first night is Disc 1 – with. And the second night is Disc 2 – without. BUT…we play improvised music, so the listening parties, and then the live launch in August, will probably be the only times we play with // without to an audience.

COVID-19 has had a catastrophic impact on live music. How have you spent the last three months during the lockdown?
Asides from moving my piano teaching online, I’ve written a lot of grant applications and a lot of job applications. I’ve also been working on the art for the successful applications. It’s been busy, but also quite tough – mourning the loss of our industry and the unknowns of what the future holds. It was very natural for me to go to the piano and improvise and process my emotions. I didn’t necessarily feel compelled to make new works and polished compositions ready to share with the world, but by necessity that’s what I’ve ended up having to do. It was great to create work, but it felt like an enormous amount of pressure – having to be creative, to be innovative and to use this challenge as something positive, when it’s actually really a difficult time.

What’s coming up for you over the next 18 months?
There’s the launch of Impermanence’s album, with // without. And we are hoping to be able to do more gigs. In December, we are due to play at the International Society for Improvised Music conference at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne. I also have a couple of commissions. At the end of 2019, I won the Pythia Prize for composition – which means I’m writing a piece inspired by the bushfire crisis for Rubiks Collective. I’m also writing a piece for myself as Artist in Residence at the City of Greater Dandenong. The piece is based around the Irish word for hug – Croí Isteach – which literally means to get into the heart or to bring your hearts close – so it’s a sonic hug for the pandemic times.


MEDIA RELEASE
Redefining the idiom: Impermanence trio premieres new music
June 2020
with // without is the mesmerising new offering from Australia’s rising stars of improvised music, Impermanence.
The Melbourne trio launched with // without, a double album, with two live-streamed Listening Parties.
Described as “one of Australia’s rising stars”, “where jazz meets sound art”, Impermanence are a Melbourne-based improvising music trio who traverse form and genre. with // without captures their cinematic and evocative sound, coalescing ancient and futuristic with tradition and invention through their unique instrumentation:

  • simultaneous piano + mixed Indonesian gamelan (Bianca Gannon)
  • double bass + bass guitar (Josh Holt)
  • trumpet + augmented trumpet (Elliott Hughes)

Their seemingly through-composed long-form free improvisations incorporate neo-classical and jazz references with ritualistic rhythms and a glitchy new music edge. Ethereal lyricism layered with pulsating difference tones, unique timbres, orchestral textures and extended harmonies resonate in an expansive timelessness.
Elliott Hughes’ invention, the Augmented Trumpet, incorporates a 3D-printed motion-sensor that uses the normal movement of the trumpet’s valves to control and synchronise the electronics with the acoustic sound. The resulting sounds are captivating.
Gamelan specialist Gannon performs simultaneous piano with gamelan (Balinese pitched percussion instruments with beating difference-tones that create an otherworldly warbling effect).
with // without is supported by the City of Melbourne COVID-19 Arts Grants.


Impermanence ‘With // without’ Album Launch
WHO: Bianca Gannon simultaneous piano + mixed Indonesian gamelan
Josh Holt double bass + bass guitar
Elliott Hughes trumpet + augmented trumpet
Impermanence website
WHAT: with // without double CD, improvised and recorded at Newmarket Studios, February 2019. Disc 1 includes electronic components (Augmented trumpet and bass guitar) and Disc 2 is acoustic.
Cost: Digital $12, CD $25
with // without is available for purchase and streaming on Bandcamp and spotify.

Award-winning talent Jack Gow dismantles masculinity, failure, and Nelson Mandela at Melbourne Fringe

Sydney-based comedian Jack Gow will showcase his unique coming-of-age story over eight nights at the Melbourne Fringe Festival this year, from Saturday 21 to Sunday 29 September.

Just A Small Town Boy is a hilarious, yet bittersweet, coming-of-age story exploring the idiosyncrasies of growing up as an outsider in small-town country NSW. This is a show about masculinity, failure and Nelson Mandela. It’s about slam poetry, the Year 12 formal, and patriarchal power structures. It’s about teen love, internalized homophobia, and drunkenly kissing your best friend at a house party to the sound of Timbaland. Inspired by the likes of Hannah Gadsby, David Sedaris, and Daniel Kitson, it’s a show for anyone who has ever been rejected by society, questioned their sexuality, or felt that they needed to compromise their true self in order to fit in.

Jack, described as “a growing force in Australian comedy” (Broadsheet), enjoyed a sold-out debut season last year at the MFF and earned high praise from reviewers and audiences alike. The talented wordsmith’s “wry, gentle storytelling” (Sydney Morning Herald) is characterised by hilarious personal anecdotes imbued with dark pathos.

Exploring the idiosyncrasies of growing up as an outsider in small-town country Australia, Jack’s show touches on identity politics, notions of traditional masculinity and the extreme lengths individuals go to try to belong.

His style has been described as “an anxious, apologetic eloquence that takes the everyday and makes it quietly marvellous” (★★★★ The Music), and he has been lauded as “one of the finest emerging comedians in the country” (Sydney Comedy Festival).

A multiple The Moth StorySLAM winner and two-time The Moth Sydney GrandSLAM runner-up, Jack writes regular comedic pieces for ABC News Digital and his stories have appeared on Radio National, the Story Club podcast, and he is a former contributing writer and performer on The Checkout (ABC TV).

____________________________________________________________

SHOW DETAILS

Who: Jack Gow presents Just A Small Town Boy, Melbourne Fringe

Times: Saturday 21 to Sunday 29 Sept (6:30pm daily, 5:30pm Sun); no show Mon 23 Sept

Venue: Fringe Hub at Trades Hall, Cnr. Victoria & Lygon Streets, Carlton South, VIC 3053

Tickets: Adult: $24 / Concession: $20 

Bookings: https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/just-a-small-town-boy/

Media release written by Diana Wolfe and Gianna Huesch

Gelareh Pour and Garden Quartet

Gelareh Pour’s Garden Quartet album launch and national tour 2019

Talented Australian-Iranian musician Gelareh Pour is launching Garden Quartet, her band’s self-titled debut album, with a national tour beginning in July.

Gelareh formed Garden Quartet in 2016 in collaboration with Brian O’Dwyer, Arman Habibi and Mike Gallichio, creating and performing music which Gelareh describes as Iranian-Australian contemporary music fusing elements of world music, avant garde, alternative/indie post-rock, dark ambient and romantic, sung in Farsi.

Having studied in Iran and then obtained her Masters of Ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne, she is a respected composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist master of Persian/Iranian instruments including Kamancheh (spiked fiddle) and Qeychak Alto (Iranian bowed lute). She has previously released three albums to widespread acclaim, and is a contributing member of Boite World Music Café and Victoria’s Iranian House of Music. Gelareh is now based in Melbourne where she regularly performs with some of Australia’s most innovative experimental musicians.

The theme of the album Garden Quartet is “more than one place”, drawing on Gelareh’s experiences and stories about living and creating music in two very different cultures, together with her bandmates’ differing cultural backgrounds and the stories they’ve carried along their personal journeys.

Gelareh also incorporates the stories of women who have had to flee from war-torn countries inspired by Gelareh’s academic research work on The Lives of Iranian Women Singers in Diaspora.

Celebrated as a vocalist of rare and ethereal skill, the 34-year-old has nonetheless experienced hardship as a female singer in Iran. There, she was only able to perform covertly in underground venues, as women are forbidden to sing solo in public under Islamic law. Women’s voices are viewed as “too provocative” and their hand movements when playing instruments deemed “too erotic”. As a result, Iranian women can only play instruments in male-led bands, or perform to all-female audiences, who must also obtain permits for all performances via an arduous bureaucratic process. By contrast, singing as a woman solo singer with no restrictions on the stage and in recordings is very special to her. In Australia, for the first time in her life, Gelareh feels she has true musical and creative freedom—a feeling of exhilaration that is beautifully expressed in the compositions on Garden Quartet.

Media release written by Diana Wolfe and Gianna Huesch

Wang Zheng-Ting (Sheng) and Adam Simmons (saxophone). Photo: Kevin Peterson.

Wu Xing (The Five Elements)—Adam Simmons’ Origami national tour 2019

Jazz virtuosos to tour nation with joyous, magical ‘auditory spectacle’
Adam Simmons and Origami join forces with Wang Zheng-Ting

One of Australia’s finest jazz/art music saxophonists, composers and band leaders Adam Simmons is launching his first national tour with his trio Origami, accompanied by world-renowned Sheng player Wang Zheng-Ting, through August—October this year.

Critics say Simmons is producing some of the most “breathtakingly beautiful” jazz in Australia or anywhere else. Electrifying both recorded and in concert, Origami’s music is quite unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

Hailed as one of Simmons’ strongest projects, the trio formed in 2010 and has wowed at festivals ever since. Origami’s sold-out concert at Stonnington Jazz Festival this year was described by Australian Book Review as “the standout performance” of the Festival.

Their album Wu Xing—The Five Elements was deservedly nominated for The Age Music Victoria Awards Best Jazz Album 2018, with its mesmerising exploration of the Wu Xing—the five elements  (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) that underpin Chinese philosophy, drawing parallels between music and nature.

The Wu Xing tour comes hot on the heels of Simmons’ critically-acclaimed five-part concert series and CD box set, The Usefulness of Art, which drew four-and-five-star reviews from The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Arts Hub, and Australian Book Review.

The tour features longtime Simmons collaborator Wang Zheng-Ting on Sheng (Chinese mouth organ). Ting is a world-renowned musician, musical director, lecturer, author and ethnomusicologist whose “exceptional artistry” sees the Sheng “flutter and dance with the delicacy of butterfly wings, though it can also pulse with rhythmic vitality” (Sydney Morning Herald).

Simmons is known for stretching the boundaries of modern jazz composition and performance, and infusing a sense of wonder and playfulness into musical art forms better known for their gravitas. With Origami, his alto saxophone is perfectly complemented by virtuoso bandmate Howard Cairns’ gentle strength on double bass and Hugh Harvey’s exuberant drumming style.

The Wu Xing tour takes in major cities and regional centres including Sydney (Sound Lounge), Canberra (Drill Hall Gallery), Newcastle’s Grand Hotel, Melbourne (Jazzlab), Adelaide (Nexus Arts), Mildura, Geelong (Courthouse Theatre), and Hobart (MONA), with more dates being added.

The tour concludes with a celebratory concert at the Melbourne Recital Centre with the Australian-Chinese Music Ensemble, commemorating both the MRC’s 10th anniversary and the ACME’s 30th anniversary.

Workshops will also be available in a number of towns, offering a rare opportunity to learn from these masters (supported by Forestone Japan and The Music Place).

WU XING NATIONAL TOUR DATES

Sat Oct 5 Uniting Church Hall, Wangaratta, tickets

Thu Oct 10 Courthouse Youth Arts, Geelong, tickets

Sat Oct 12 Christ Church Longford, Tasmania 

Sun Oct 13 MONA, Berriedale, Tasmania, details

Media release written by Diana Wolfe and Gianna Huesch

Butoh—the dance world’s punk rock—
is here to disrupt your preconceptions of dance

Tickets are now on sale for the eagerly-awaited 2019 ButohOUT! Festival—Forbidden Laughter. Thanks to pioneering Japanese-Australian performance artists Yumi Umiumare and Takashi Takiguchi, Melburnians have the chance to experience this unique and captivating dance form. Incorporating elements of cabaret, Bouffon, burlesque and visual installations, Forbidden Laughter is created by Yumi Umiumare along with award-winning performer Maude Davey, and the unstoppable force of WEAVE Movement Theatre, devious duo Willow J Conway and Zya Kane, and the Butoh OUT! Ensemble.

About Butoh
Australia’s love for dance shows no sign of waning and we’ve demonstrated our eagerness to embrace genres from around the world. We lap up the televised dance shows, from Dancing With The Stars to So, You Think You Can Dance. And on any night of the week, we can head to a class and kick up our heels in the style of our choice, whether it’s rock-and-roll, Latin, Irish, tap, line dancing, clogging and more. So when you think of imported dance styles, Butoh probably won’t spring to mind… and yet this Japanese-born performance medium offers us the chance to immerse ourselves in a fascinating, hitherto unexplored dance form that’s as revolutionary and subversive to dance as punk rock was to popular music.
Butoh, the so-called Dance of Darkness, emerged out of post-WWII Japan as a rebellious and anti-establishment reaction to the country’s social turmoil. Butoh’s crude physical gestures and ‘natural’ movements rejected traditional Japanese aesthetics of refinement and understatement, and eschewed what creators Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo saw as the imitation of Western dance styles. Butoh dancers were commonly covered in white full body paint, near-naked with shaved heads, moving excruciatingly slowly with clawed hands and rolled-up eyes, silently screaming.
The first Butoh performance at a Japanese dance festival in 1959—which incorporated a live chicken—shocked audiences and not only saw Hijikata banned from the festival, but established him as a cultural iconoclast.

ButohOUT! 2019—Forbidden Laughter
Now in its third year, ButohOUT! challenges the perception of Butoh as dark and grotesque by combining the dancing with elements of cabaret, Bouffon, burlesque, physical theatre and visual installations. Celebrating the unique and powerful performance medium of Butoh, Forbidden Laughter invites audiences into surreal narratives through a bizarre and mysterious domesticated installation within the rustic industrial school of Abbotsford Convent.
Forbidden Laughter is created and conceived by leading Butoh artist Yumi Umiumare in collaboration with Takashi, along with award-winning performance artist, Maude Davey and the unstoppable force of WEAVE Movement Theatre, devious duo Willow J Conway and Zya Kane and the Butoh OUT! Ensemble. Strange and absurd stories are woven between worlds that are mythically sacred and divinely carnal; the sensibilities of the East and West collide in a contemporary setting designed by the internationally acclaimed Thai sculptor, Pimpisa Tinpalit.
The two-month Festival program includes four public workshops held in March and April, two weeks of performances from Thursday 2 May—Sunday 12 May, and discussion groups. Facilitated by professional award-winning performance and visual artists and theatre-makers, the workshops are designed to cater for all age groups and stages of accomplishment including absolute beginners through to dance professionals, making Butoh accessible and engaging for all. The performance season will involve workshop participants (including dancers from the renowned WEAVE Movement Theatre) as well as the workshop leaders.

Creative team: Artistic director Yumi Umiumare, Producer Takashi Takiguchi, Dramaturg Maude Davey, Visual artist Pimpisa Tinpalit. ButohOUT! is being held in partnership with Abbotsford Convent and is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria; Arts Access Victoria; and WEAVE Movement Theatre.

Media release written by Diana Wolfe and Gianna Huesch