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Ensemble Offspring

Partch’s Bastards (2011)

September 2, 2011 | 8:00pm

Following the lead of the iconic Harry Partch, whose music was so radical he needed to build his own orchestra of unique instruments to play it, Ensemble Offspring has commissioned the design of visually striking and sonically beautiful instruments to perform in these newly invented scales. Californian-come-Wollongong composer, instrument-builder and tuning guru Kraig Grady has shown us that just by slightly changing a few notes, it is possible to enter an exotic new world of colour. The as-yet unheard sounds of the underchin tarhu – a unique string instrument designed by Peter Biffin, gidgee clarinis – clarinet-like instruments crafted by Linsey Pollak and centaur vibes (by Kraig Grady) will make their debut in a concert of four especially composed works along with surprising microtonal interpretations of Philip Glass and Arvo Pärt.

After experiencing the vivid timbres and expressive harmonic colour of this innovative new tuning system, going back to the old fashioned keyboard feels like returning to black-and-white TV.

Bespoke Instruments Made for This Concert: Tarhu (above) and Clarini (below) made for Ensemble Offspring by Peter Biffin


“I always know I can expect something extraordinary from every one of Ensemble Offspring’s concerts, but this one really was special. It was like being drawn into a new dreamlike world from the very beginning, not just in the tuning but in the incredible range of tone colours from all the marvellous new instruments. The level of performance was incredible as it always is, but so tender and delicate in this concert, even in moments of contrast and energy.”

James Humberstone


Date & Time

Sydney The Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House, 8pm Friday 2nd September, 2011
Wagga Wagga Riverina Conservatorium, 3pm Sunday 4th September, 2011


Arvo Pärt – Fratres (1977 arr. 2011)
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Phillip Glass – Music in Similar Motion (1969 arr. 2011)
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Terumi Narushima – Hidden Sidetracks (2011)
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Amanda Cole – Hydra (2011)
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Damien Ricketson – Some Shade of Blue (2011)
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Kraig Grady – Akashic Torus (2011)
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Anna McMichael & Damien Ricketson (violin & tarhu)
Claire Edwardes & Bree van Reyk (percussion)
Jason Noble & Diana Springford (clarinet & clarinis)

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Partch’s Bastards (2011)