New music at the Con raises the decibels for Vivid Sydney

(L-R) Michaela Davies, Alon Ilsar and Véronique Serret featuring in Vivid New Music at the Con. Images courtesy of the artists.

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music will present an electric festival program of mind-bending sounds, music and multi-sensory performances for Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas, from 27 May to 17 June.

Over three weeks Vivid New Music at the Con will feature an extraordinary line-up of home-grown and visiting composers, soloists, bands, ensembles and immersive sound and visual artists, in addition to an inaugural one-day jazz festival.

Curator of Vivid New Music at the Con, Dr Damien Ricketson, a composer and head of composition at the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music, commented: “From classical to Chinese instruments, a mass of electric guitars, to newly invented digital instruments, this year’s Vivid Sydney program at the Con features over a dozen performances of fresh new music of our time.”

Improvising musicians Chloe Kim and Simon Barker, also a Con jazz lecturer, will kick off Vivid Sydney on the Con forecourt on Saturday, 27 May. The dynamic drumming duo will perform a selection of Korean and Asia-Pacific inspired rhythms and music.

They are followed by the only Australian electric viola band, Elysian Fields, in the Con’s music cafe.  Led by viola da gambist Jenny Eriksson and saxophonist Matt Keegan, and accompanied by pianist Matt McMahon, Elysian Fields will play several sets from funky blues and cool Scandinavian jazz, to haunting folk songs and soundscapes composed by Keegan and McMahon.

With her double bass, sound and installation artist Michaela Davies will stage a unique performance driven by electric muscle stimulation producing involuntary music that is otherwise rhythmically impossible to achieve.

The phenomenal violinist and Con graduate, Véronique Serret, who can be seen with the Australian Chamber Orchestra one night and with an indie rock band the next, presents an amped up recital of new work written for her 6-string electric violin.

The eco-acoustic sounds of the US-based EcoSono Ensemble, led by Matthew Burtner on saxophone and Glen Whitehead on trumpet, will perform their ‘environmentally in-tune’ works, alongside Clocked Out’s Erik Griswold on piano.

The Con, regarded as the heartland of Australia’s finest jazz musicians, will stage its first international jazz festival. Across one day, more than 100 local and international musicians will play in 26 events at the Con. The festival will debut the Australian National Jazz Orchestra with Mat Jodrell and Roger Manins, and includes performances by American drummer Jim Black, Phil Slater’s new quintet, Armenia pianist Tigran Hamasyan, American saxophonists Will Vinson and Greg Osby with the Tal Cohen Quintet.

In a unique collaboration titled Looping the Loop, Con composer Martin Kay and visual artist Angela Wagstaff join forces to premiere a new score inspired by Wagstaff’s etchings, featuring Kay on sax together with classical-jazz artists Steve Barry on piano, Matt Bruce on violin and with video projections by Steve Weymouth.

A composer and electronic percussionist, Alon Ilsar, will lead a one-hour synesthetic journey of sound, movement and vision, in collaboration with visual and sound artists Andrew Bluff, Matthew Hughes and Daniel Krass. The event will see Alon Ilsar perform on drums and with his AirSticks, viewed by the audience through 3D glasses.

Con doctoral student, teacher and guitarist, David Reaston, brings together six electric guitarists, a sax quartet, and a drummer to create a sonic rendering of the 1974 radio broadcast to outer space from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico – that had hoped to achieve the first human-extraterrestrial communication.

New Zealand singer-songwriter Bic Runga visits Australia for two intimate shows only, including one at the Sydney Con. The soulful vocalist, whose hit single ‘Sway’ topped the charts and featured in the smash-hit movie American Pie in 1999, will perform songs from her latest album Close Your Eyes, and a couple of new tracks from her upcoming album.

As part of finale night of Vivid at the Con, composer and technologist Ben Carey, who this year took up the position of Scholarly Teaching Fellow in Composition and Music Technology at the Con, will present networks_articulated – a semi-improvised audio-visual performance for modular synthesiser, computer and video projections. Spiral, a creative composers’ collective coming out of the Con, will also perform their swirling, amplified sound worlds.

See the full program of Vivid New Music at the Con

Media enquiries: Mandy Campbell, 0481 012 742 or mandy.campbell@sydney.edu.au

About the Sydney Conservatorium’s new Bachelor of Music

In 2018 the University of Sydney is launching a revamped Bachelor of Music with a new focus on music of today. The new four-year degree offers streams in contemporary music, digital music and media, improvised music and creative music, with students learning a range of skills that will prepare them for a career in new music. The degree is aimed at the digital musician who might compose straight onto a laptop, the creative composer who wants to write music for games and film, the performer who loves improvising, or the student who is in the best rock band at high school.

About Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney is a 23-day festival of light, music and ideas that runs from 26 May to 17 June 2017. It features a cutting-edge contemporary music program. The festival is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the State Government’s tourism and major events agency.