Offspring Bites II

Offspring Bites is Ensemble Offspring’s biennial audio-visual series launched in 2017, celebrating living Australian chamber works written for Ensemble Offspring by pairing them with bespoke visual content. Giving the most exceptional Noisy Egg Creation Fund commissions a life beyond the concert hall, our Offspring Bites initiative takes a holistic approach to the documentation of Australian art music with integrated audio and visual element.

You can listen to our Offspring Bites I here.

Offspring Bites II

Our 2nd edition launching in 2019 celebrates the output of some great Australian female composers with whom Ensemble Offspring has collaborated over a period of time – Bree van Reyk (composer and longtime member of Ensemble Offspring), Andrea Keller (Melbourne jazz pianist and composer), Holly Harrison (young Western Sydney composer), Cassie To (student composer when she wrote this work) and Melody Eötvös (now teaching in Melbourne after many years in the USA). Likewise, the video artists are some of Australia’s best and most prolific. Each has developed a strong synergy with the composer and created something bespoke to the mood, content and theme of that specific musical work.

We urge you to hop onto Vimeo and soak up the music featured in this disc alongside the bespoke visual element for the full Offspring Bites experience – then share it with your friends. Enjoy! vimeo.com/ensembleoffspring

Watch/View

Cassie To – Avialae
Holly Harrison – Vibe Rant
Bree van Reyk – Light for the First Time
Melody Eötvös – Tardigradus
Andrea Keller – Love in Solitude

Limited Edition CD release: $25 on Bandcamp
Digital album: $15 on Bandcamp
View videos: on Vimeo
Listen on Spotify
Download on iTunes

Performers

Claire Edwardes (percussion/Artistic Director)
Véronique Serret (violin)
Freya Schack-Arnott (cello)
Jason Noble (clarinet)
Lamorna Nightingale (flute)
Bernadette Harvey (piano – track 1)
Jacob Abela (piano – track 5)

Video Artists

Rowena Crowe – Avialae
Su-An Ng – Vibe Rant
Sam James – Light for the First Time
Peter Humble – Love in Solitude

Program Notes

Cassie To – Avialae (2015)
‘Avialae’ translated from Latin means ‘bird wings’ and is a reference to the scientific classification of birds as ‘Clade Avialae’. The piece incorporates the bird songs of five endangered Australian species: Painted Snipe, Swift Parrot, Carnaby’s Cockatoo, Regent Honeyeater and Ground Parrot. Each birdcall is imitated and improvised by the performers and, throughout the piece, transformed from literal interpretations to conventional musical melodies. Avialae explores a disappearing natural sound world and hopes to bring to attention our environmental situation, where if nothing is done to protect our ecosystems, these songs may permanently be silenced, only to exist in our imagination.

Avialae – film by Rowena Crowe
Avialae was a serendipitous project for me. For some time I had been collecting children’s drawings of birds for a project that had been brewing in my mind. When Ensemble Offspring approached me about the Offspring Bites project I was immediately drawn to Cassie To’s Avialae not knowing her composition was concerned with the disappearance of bird song after species extinction. Discovering her ideas behind the composition I came to interpret it as a kind of sonic witness. I loved the progression of the piece musically and it became important to me to mirror this visually but without stepping on the music so much that it became predictable. The drawings I animated are from 7-year-old drawings of Australian birds. The black and white film imagery I made as imagined bird memories.


Holly Harrison  – Vibe Rant (2016)
Vibe Rant not only refers to the abbreviated form of vibraphone: ‘vibes’, but also ‘rant’, which originally comes from the Dutch word ‘ranten’: to talk nonsense, connecting with my interest in Lewis Carroll’s nonsense literature. Together these words form ‘vibrant’, which is the overall mood of the piece. Like its earlier sister trio, Frogstomp (also written for Ensemble Offspring), Vibe Rant sets up a series of juxtapositions, creating a stylistic patchwork that embraces influences from vernacular genres including jazz, pop, hip-hop, dance, rock, and metal. Vibe Rant is written with three main moods in mind: rambunctious and cheeky, pitted against glimpses of a lighter, more ethereal and, perhaps, ‘cuter’ sound-world, and a darker passage inspired by rock and metal elements

Vibe Rant – film by Su-An Ng
A playful, abstract interpretation of a day in the life of an old squabbling couple. The quirks and nuances of this relationship is explored through a cacophonous world of shapes, colours and textures. Vibe Rant, is a visual response to the rhythmic energy of Holly Harrison’s original composition.

Bree van Reyk – Light for the First Time (2017)
Light for the First Time is dedicated to my daughter, Claude van Gold. It imagines the experience of opening one’s eyes for the first time, which occurs at around 28 weeks’ gestation. The unfolding of the piece reflects a desire to be able to relive that moment endlessly, in slow motion, as if bathed in the brand-new memory of light. The sound of breath alone gradually expands into a universe of vibrant sound and colour, and the core ensemble of musicians is augmented by echoes of themselves, ghosts of prior performances and imagined futures.

Light for the First Time – film by Sam James
The idea for this film was to respond with reflections of abstracted light to build a precognitive, experiential sequence of light objects which could perhaps be the subconscious perception of an unborn child. The further I went into this process, the more I strived to create phenomenological states of feeling that did not define the outside world, which was quite difficult.  This is an attempt to create pre-figurative imagery without any conception of the infinite phenomena of the material world. It is like being in a bubble of pure perception without reflexivity. To see, but without a concept of matter, the sight of a being which is yet to be born

Melody Eötvös  – Tardigradus (2017)
The Tardigrade (meaning slow stepper), also known as a water bear or moss piglet, is a microscopic animal that can survive in the most ridiculous and extreme environmental conditions, including the vacuum of space. In fact, they are the most resilient animal known to exist. With four pairs of legs, four to eight claws on each leg, and a segmented body formation, the Tardigrade can survive without food or water for more than 30 years at which point they can revive from a state of holding only 3% of their original body water and continue living and reproducing once re-hydrated. Besides their talent for survival, this animal is also fascinating from a purely physical standpoint.

[Tardigradus – no accompanying film]

Andrea Keller – Love in Solitude (2017)
Composed as a result of winning the 2017 Merlyn Myer Composing Women’s Commission, Love in Solitude is a meditation on the eloquent thoughts presented in Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. Alongside the live ensemble, the work features a backing track consisting of pre-recorded, highly manipulated sounds made by the performers on stage, in-studio. Jem Savage was an important collaborator on this soundscape and the voice of Miroslav Bukovsky (a Canberra based trumpet player) recites the text. This substantial work moves through numerous moods as depicted in Rilke’s thoughts, beginning with solitude as an essential state for any artist, sadness and pain and their inevitability, and finally patience,
love and optimism, of paramount importance.

Love in Solitude – film by Peter Humble
The film, Love in Solitude, could be described as a database film. That is, it was edited together from a personal database, primarily of hand processed 16mm images, shot over a period from 2011 to the present day. Shot, as they were in solitude, coaxed slowly and in darkness out of a chemical soup. It felt right to be paring them with this work, with Andrea’s moving score and Rilke’s quiet insistence on the necessity for patience and solitude in creation. In the edit, I let Andrea’s music take the lead; Rilke’s text already providing a strong conceptual framework and the shifting textures and repetitions of the sound helped guide the final form of the film.

Thanks to our Supporters

We are grateful for the donors and funding partners who supported the commissions on this recording, many through Ensemble Offspring’s own Noisy Egg Creation Fund.

Avialae was composed for Ensemble Offspring’s 20th birthday celebrations, with the support of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and premiered in 2015 at Future Retro.

Vibe Rant was commissioned by Ensemble Offspring’s Noisy Egg Creation Fund with the generous support of Penny Le Couteur and Greg Dickson and premiered in 2016 at Kontiki Racket.

Light for the First Time was commissioned by Ensemble Offspring’s Noisy Egg Creation Fund with the generous support of Kim Williams and premiered in 2017 at Sizzle.

Tardigradus was commissioned by Ensemble Offspring’s Noisy Egg Creation Fund with the generous support of Kim Williams, and premiered in 2017 at Arc Electric.

Love in Solitude
was commissioned as part of the 2017 Merlyn Myer Commission, in association with the Melbourne Recital Centre and premiered in 2017 at The Salon, MRC.

Thanks to designer Traianos Pakioufakis, Stephen Adams, Andre Shrimski and the team at ABC Classic, sound engineer extraordinaire Bob Scott and Su-An Ng for video credit animation.

Ensemble Offspring is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts advisory body, and the NSW Government through Create NSW