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).

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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

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

“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

29th Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues announces inspired world-class program

Australia’s foremost jazz and blues music festival, Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, to be held from Friday 2nd through Sunday 4th November in Wangaratta, north-east Victoria, has announced a stunning program of international and Australian artists to tempt travellers, lovers of live music and locals alike.
This year’s program is the most internationally-diverse in the festival’s history, with the likes of electrifying UK blues guitarist Matt Schofield, US ‘sonic explorers’ FORQ, German jazz-hip-hop piano group Trio ELF, and, in a welcome return to Wangaratta for the first time since 2010, the Netherlands’ Yuri Honing Quartet.
And the local line-up promises to be stronger and more inspiring than ever, featuring the world premiere of the Australian Art Orchestra’s new work, revered Indigenous Australian jazz vocalist Wilma Reading, all-female soul band Sweethearts, Ray Beadle coming out of retirement to perform on both jazz and blues stages with Clayton Doley and Red Hands, and Tina Harrod performing her lauded new album, City of Longing, as well as guest-starring on the beloved annual Jazz Mass program.
Festival Chair Mark Bolsius praised the artistic team—Zoe Hauptmann, Frank Davidson, Scott Solimo and Adam Simmons—for creating a program jam-packed with fresh new faces, venerable favourites and award-winning musicians from the UK, US, France, Japan, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, India, The Netherlands, Asia, Germany, Sri Lanka, Canada and Australia.
“This year really builds on the successful rebirth of the festival in 2017, when our new venues, partnerships, precinct layout and programming team were universally endorsed by audiences, artists and music critics,” Mr Bolsius said.
“Not only do we have the most diverse international line-up ever, but we continue to offer a world-class Australian line-up, something that is unique to this festival. With more than 300 musicians in over 80 concerts across eight concert locations, we promise there’s something for everyone. We’re confident that we have the right mix of music, artists, stages and programming to satisfy and delight not just serious jazz and blues aficionados, but also tourists to northeast Victoria and of course our local music-lovers.”


Artist highlights include:

  • UK blues guitarist, Matt Schofield, whose virtuoso playing has seen him named as one of the top 10 British Blues Guitarists of all time and inducted into the British Blues Hall of Fame;
  • World-class sonic improvisers, FORQ, from the US, featuring keyboardist Henry Hey (David Bowie, Empire of the Sun) and bassist Michael League (Grammy-winning leader of Snarky Puppy) and touring their third album Thrēq;
  • Vocalist Wilma Reading, whose numerous international career highlights include touring with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, performing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, lead roles on London’s West End, and featuring at New York’s Copacabana Night Club;
  • From The Netherlands, the Yuri Honing Quartet, in a welcome return to Wangaratta for the first time since 2010, this time with an acclaimed new album, Goldbrun;
  • The world premiere of a new work by the Australian Art Orchestra—a contemplation of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day in music by Andrea Keller, Peter Knight and Tilman Robinson;
  • A slew of inspired local/overseas collaborations including The Three Seas, a cross-cultural and cross-genre collaboration between musicians from India and Australia;
    The new Victorian Youth Jazz Collective, led by James Mustafa, paving the way for a whole new generation of young jazz musicians;
  • Opelousas, a new blues collaboration between Kerri Simpson, Alison Ferrier and Anthony ‘Shorty’ Shortte of Collard Greens and Gravy fame;
  • Ex-Canberra guitarist, Alex Stuart, touring with his French quintet;
  • Wild woman of blues and 2017-18 MBAS Blues Performer of The Year, Kelly Auty, performing her new all-original blues album, Kelly’s Blues;
  • The Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble with the Afrolankan Drumming System (Ray Pereira) and Indian dancer Vikram Iyengar performing The Calling;
  • 2017 National Jazz Award winner, James Macaulay, with the Hishakaku Quartet;
  • Triple J Unearthed indie-jazz-roots darlings, JAKAL, with Jessie Hillel (NZ) on vocals;
  • A rare performance by jazz royalty, Ten Part Invention, celebrating over 30 years of creating music. The festival is thrilled to have on the bill this ‘small big band’ of virtuoso composer-improvisers, described one the Radio National Music Show as “one of the most expressive large ensembles to emerge from Australia”.


Since 1989 the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues grown to become an internationally renowned event attracting around 25,000 visitors and 200 jazz and blues artists from the US, the UK, Europe and Australia to regional north-east Victoria every November.
With a diverse, eclectic mix of jazz greats and rising stars, each year the program showcases jazz and blues of all styles, including original, contemporary, traditional, mainstream, experimental and improvised. A central feature remains the National Jazz Awards; a competition designed to encourage and promote young musicians. The Festival has won numerous tourism and sponsorship awards, and is recognised internationally as the foremost jazz and blues event in Australia.

WFoJ Logo with Date - large - Copy

Adam Simmons + Wang Zheng-Ting in world premiere of The Kites of Tianjin 2018

REVIEWS

Adam Simmons: The Kites of Tianjin
★★★★★ Raphael Solarsh, Arts Hub
“… a fitting finale to the inimitable brilliance of The Usefulness of Art concert series by Adam Simmons.”
“The Usefulness of Art has been a ground-breaking and magnificent musical journey. Simmons and his collaborators have plotted a singularly innovative and evocative trail that has taken audience to the far-flung corners of the world with Simmons’ exquisite sonic journals. Each concert has offered not just music inspired by place but deeply personal narratives seamlessly intertwined.”
“… Adam Simmons is producing some of the most incredible jazz in Australia or anywhere else.”

Adam Simmons, The Kites of Tianjin
★★★★½ Des Cowley, Australian Books and Arts Review
“The extended applause that greeted the performance’s end seemed like a recognition of the monumentality of Adam Simmons’ Usefulness of Art series. Inspired by a direct quote from Rodin, ‘I call useful all that gives happiness’, his cycle of large-scale compositions has raised fundamental questions about the role of art in our society, and the ways in which art might bring us together. For this occasion, the performances by Wang Zheng-Ting and members of the Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble were flawless. For those of us fortunate enough to have attended the series, there was a sense that, for composer and audience alike, we had reached the end of a long and fascinating journey. And, like any journey, we had arrived changed from when we set out.”

Kites Soar on Breath of Life
★★★★½ Jessica Nicholas, The Age & Sydney Morning Herald
“…Simmons has used [The Usefulness of Art series] to explore the value of music and art in shaping identity and fostering a sense of community.”
“… the exceptional artistry of sheng player Wang Zheng Ting […] the sheng flutters and dances with the delicacy of butterfly wings, though it can also pulse with rhythmic vitality.”
“…Simmons uses his instruments and… his entire 15-piece Creative Music Ensemble… to draw parallels between music and nature, art and pleasure.”
“The Kites of Tianjin is all about wind and its relationship to breath – and breath to life – and as the piece comes to an end, the musicians put down their instruments and simply breathe. Simmons looks out at us, issuing a gentle invitation to breathe with them. It’s a simple but deeply moving gesture, signifying the inclusiveness and desire to share that makes Simmons’ work so meaningful.”

Wind as Breath, Breath as Life
—Roger Mitchell, Ausjazz.net
“Breathtakingly beautiful…the ending also draws the audience in to share and engage with the ensemble, but in a totally different way. We gradually become aware that the music is becoming breath-like and, in an utterly magic experience, realise as the music fades that all that remains is the breathing. Like gentle waves washing on a sea shore the breathing takes us to an utterly restful and peaceful place. Instead of our breath being taken, we are filled with and enlivened by our own breathing. Don’t miss the chance to hear this concert.”


MEDIA RELEASE

Acclaimed Melbourne composer, Adam Simmons, will perform the world premiere of his latest new musical work, The Kites of Tianjin, at fortyfivedownstairs from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 July.
Inspired by Simmons’ experiences in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, famous for its Wei Kites, The Kites of Tianjin will feature Wang Zheng-Ting on Sheng (Chinese mouth organ) as featured soloist with the Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble.
The Kites of Tianjin will be the fifth and final concert in Simmons’ acclaimed The Usefulness of Art series. Comprising five unique and original concerts over 2017-18, The Usefulness of Art originated from a quote by Auguste Rodin, and is the driving force behind Simmons’ formidable musical career.
Since meeting in 2007, Simmons and Ting have collaborated on a number of major concerts as a duo and with Simmons’s trio, Origami. The two were intrigued by the Wei Kites during a visit to Tianjin in 2017, where they attended a workshop run by Wei Guoqiu, a fourth-generation member of the famous kite-making family.
“There’s something irresistible about making your own kite… and about finding the way to ride the wind. It’s similar to playing with nature in other ways, such as creating sand tunnels at the beach or floating sticks down the river or stoking the hot coals to produce flames,” says Simmons.
“A kite is brought to life by the wind—and we in turn rely on breathing to give us life. This invisible force around us has such potential for creation and sustenance. My personal revelation a few years back is that really what I have been learning via my musical instruments is fundamentally about how to breathe—and that to breathe is to live. In this way, the kite in the wind becomes a metaphor for living.”
The Kites of Tianjin—which musically and visually explores breath and the fundamental nature of being human—is the culmination of the preceding Usefulness of Art concerts. Together, the concerts have used Simmons’ original art music to ponder such weighty concepts as the creation of form, art through music, qualities that art engenders in humanity, reasons to create art, how art connects communities and helps develop understanding of one’s place in the world, exploring personal identity, and connecting to place.
The first four concerts have elicited rapturous praise from critics and audiences alike, including The Age’s Jessica Nicholas: “… another marvellously assured step in Simmons’ own journey as musician and composer, and a potent demonstration of the usefulness – no, the necessity – of art as an expression of our collective humanity,” and “(The Calling was) arresting both musically and visually, reflecting the sense of empathy and shared experience that gives this work such a strong emotional resonance.”
Two 5-star reviews by Raphael Solarsh of Arts Hub effused: “… (a) sonic freefall into a raw and emotive tour de force… another masterpiece by Simmons and his collaborators,” and “Simmons’ music is rich and evocative with the cinematic string arrangement given a grittier and more tactile edge by saxophony that spanned subtle breath all the way to unrestrained wail.”

This concert is supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program.


THE KITES OF TIANJIN—BIOS

Adam Simmons
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.
His concerts are joyous, inspired cross-genre collaborations with virtuoso musicians and theatrical artists. Previous concerts have involved not only his eclectic Creative Music Ensemble (in which his father, Paul Simmons, plays saxophone) but also artists of the calibre of Michael Kieran Harvey, the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble, and Diokno Pasilan.
Adam is the lead Co-Artistic Director of Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues. He was also selected for the 2017 intake for Australia Council’s Arts Leader Program.

Wang Zheng-Ting
Wang Zheng-Ting is a world-renowned musician (Sheng, Chinese mouth organ), musical director, lecturer, author and ethnomusicologist. He graduated from Shanghai Music Conservatory and completed an MA in Ethnomusicology at Monash University and a PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne, and is an honorary research fellow at Monash University.
He co-ordinated the Chinese Instrumental Music course at the University of Melbourne, was a Melbourne Festival Ambassador in 2014 and 2015, and has been invited as a visiting scholar to the City University of New York, guest professor at Xiamen University, and Research Fellow at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music. He is director of the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble.
As a lecturer and solo performer on the Sheng (Chinese mouth organ), he has performed recitals across the world including the US (New York Lincoln Center, University of California), and in Zurich, Germany, Thailand, Tokyo, Holland, China and Italy. His book, Chinese Music in Australia: Victoria, 1850s to mid-1990s was published in 1997.

The Adam Simmons Creative Ensemble (ASCME)
The ASCME first performed in 2004 at the Sydney Opera House for the Freedman Awards, resulting in a Special Award from the Freedman Foundation being awarded to Simmons for his work. Since then the group has performed at Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, Festival Of Slow Music and Wentworth Arts Festival, as well as being recorded by ABC FM at the Half Bent Music Festival. ASCME combines the outstanding talents of musicians from diverse backgrounds, performing cross-genre music that connects, engages and resonates powerfully with audiences. The ensemble has also performed in three of The Usefulness of Art concerts so far, and for the Kites of Tianjin will comprise:
Leader/woodwinds—Adam Simmons
Saxophones—Samuel Boon (Saskwatch), Cara Taber (Esstee Big Band), Gideon Brazil (Gotye, The Rockets), Paul Simmons (Adam’s father, from Ballarat; The Parrots inc. David Hobson, Kamahl, Dolphy’s Albatross)
Trumpets—Gemma Horbury (Orkeztra Glasso Bashalde, Tek Tek Ensemble), Gavin Cornish (Movin’ & Groovin’ Orchestra)
Trombones—James Wilkinson (Snuff Puppets), Bryn Hills (from Ballarat; The Boxing Tostados)
Bass—Howard Cairns (Origami, Way Out West)
Drums—Niko Schauble (Australian Art Orchestra, Tibetan Dixie)
Percussion—Nat Grant (The Amplified Elephants), Carmen Chan (Do You See What I Hear?)
Guitar—David Brown (bucketrider, Pateras/Baxter/Brown, Candlesnuffer)
Vocals—Pete Lawler (Weddings Parties Anything, RRR BBQ Orchestra)

THE KITES OF TIANJIN—COSTUMES
Fashion/costumier—Christine Crawshaw (Ballarat; BOLT Ensemble, Ballarat Heritage Festival)
Christine Crawshaw is a Ballarat-based freelance designer for events involving set dressing, display, costuming for events, weddings and theatre. With a background in visual arts (Victorian Collage of the Arts and Ballarat University College) Christine has worked with performers in live music and festivals for over 20 years, including BOLT Ensemble, Festival of Slow Music, Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble and Harvest Festival (Buninyong).

THE KITES OF TIANJIN—SET DESIGN
Set designer—Rachaeldaisy
Award-winning quilting artist Rachaeldaisy (Rachael Simmons, Springwood, NSW) has become synonymous with bold, colourful, highly detailed quilts. While honouring the age-old tradition of quilting, Rachaeldaisy constantly creates fresh ways and techniques to interpret conventional designs. Her use of 3D elements such as folded and gathered fabric techniques, yoyo puffs, prairie points, wool felt, appliqué denim and crochet doilies, as well as her mastery of colour and form, make for unique, exquisitely textural work. Rachaeldaisy’s quilts have been exhibited in national and international quilt shows and galleries. Rachaeldaisy is Adam Simmons’s sister.
https://www.instagram.com/bluemountaindaisy/

THE KITES OF TIANJIN—VISUALS
Visual designer—Jean Poole
Jean Poole is a Melbourne-based video artist, specialising in live projections, though extending to animation, music video direction and installation design. Jean has designed live visual sets for artists such as Gotye, Cumbia Cosmonauts and Cleverhorse. He has been commissioned to create and control projection mapped video environments for the MONA museum’s annual MOFO and Dark MOFO festivals.
His fascination with the possibilities of real-time video manipulation – has seen him projecting video onto 100-million-year-old dinosaur skeletons onto car wrecks in the Australian desert, onto Turkey’s Cappadocia cliffs, and onto masked wrestlers on rooftops in Mexico. This passion for shaping atmospheres with video, has also found him controlling multi-screened and projection mapped video for theatre, and accompanying musicians at the Sydney Opera House, ACMI, the OK Video festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, the LPM festival in Rome, Italy, and at Australian festivals such as Big Day Out, Meredith Music Festival, Electrofringe, Stereosonic, Golden Plains, Good Vibrations, Melbourne International Jazz festival and Falls Festival.

THE KITES OF TIANJIN—Other points of interest
Tianjin
With a population of more than 15 million, the northern coastal city of Tianjin is the fourth largest city in China. In 1980, Melbourne and Tianjin formed a sister city relationship—the first such relationship between an Australian and a Chinese city. In 1998, the Melbourne Office opened in Tianjin to facilitate trade, investment and exchanges between the two cities. The City of Melbourne remains the only Australian local government to have an established business office in China. Melbourne’s sister city relationship with Tianjin fosters understanding and goodwill between the two cities and recognises contributions made by the Chinese community to Melbourne’s business, culture and community life.

Wei Kites
Spring and autumn kite-making emerged as a traditional Chinese folk craft around 770 BC. In ancient China, kites were known as ‘paper eagles’ and used to measure distances and send signals, as well as for fun and recreation. Selecting the materials (silk, bamboo, and paper), designing, making and mastering the flying of these beautiful kites is a painstaking process.
The city of Tianjin is especially renowned for its kite craftsmen; the most famous of whom was Wei Yuantai, born in 1872. Nicknamed Kite Wei for his mastery of the craft, he made extraordinary kites for more than 70 years. Kite Wei created around 200 silk kites with many new designs, such as flat hard-winged, soft-winged, three-dimensional and foldaway kites, which have a flexible bamboo framework secured with glue instead of thread, and reinforced by a copper ring at every joint. Kite Wei passed on his craft to his family members, and today his great-great grandson Wei Guoqiu continues his kite-making tradition.

Previous concerts in The Usefulness of Art concert series:
Concert #4: The Calling (Adam Simmons with Afro-Lankan Drumming System)
Concert #3: Travelling Tales (Adam Simmons with Arcko Ensemble)
Concert #2: Meditation on The Usefulness of Art is music for our times (The Usefulness of Art, Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble)
Concert #1: Unique concert series to explore The Usefulness of Art (Concerto for Piano & Toy Band, Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble with Michael Kieran Harvey)