Listen Up! Recap

Ensemble Offspring’s micro-festival Listen Up! on 11 September was a truly emotional and deeply fulfilling musical evening. It was a bold decision by Artistic Director Claire Edwardes to present both technically fierce modernist art music alongside deeply poignant First Nations stories (through both music and poetry) over two concerts. And all performed within the beautifully refurbished National Art School’s Cell Block Theatre, a repurposed gaol which was a hub for new music in the 60s and 70s.

In the first show, Ensemble Offspring’s virtuosic instrumentalists Jason, Lamorna, Ben, Claire, Véronique and Blair were joined by guest percussionist Gabe Fischer in a world premiere by Karlo Margetić. A second world premiere by Melbourne composer Kate Neal was a crowd favourite, as was the last work Zaka by Jennifer Higdon (U.S.) which saw the ensemble take flight.

In the second concert Claire & Jason representing Ensemble Offspring, were united with First Nations musical trailblazers including Yorta Yorta woman Allara (double bass, voice), Koori musician Eric Avery (violin) and the Australian Art Orchestra’s Daniel Wilfred (didgeridoo) and Daniel Wilfred (voice) from South East Arnhem land, with AAO Artistic Director Peter Knight (trumpet, electronics). The musicians collaborated on stage in different instrumental combinations, coming together at the end for a memorable and stirring finale.

Eric Avery, photo by Jared Underwood

Our adventurous and relatively unique combination of musics and musicians didn’t go unnoticed by audiences, reviewers and colleagues alike, with positive responses flooding in since the performance.

[The second concert] was as emotionally compelling and profound as the first concert was intellectually exhilarating and virtuosicIt was yet another example of the transformative power of living new music, of collaboration and inclusivity.

Harriet Cunningham, Limelight

I loved how our instruments melted into one another, the presence and energy was electric and the audience too, was so kind and connected with us all from the stage. What I have come home with, I simply can not put words to but my spirit feels strong and my Ancestors feel connected.

Allara, performer

Blair Harris, photo by Jared Underwood

That first concert was completely exhilarating – all the pieces were just brilliant, and if it had finished there, I would have been totally satisfied. I almost don’t know what to say about the second concert, mainly because it was so extraordinary, and proved that when you’ve got amazing musicians who are collaborating thoughtfully and for the right reasons, anything (and everything) is possible.

Leta Keens, audience member

…Ensemble Offspring’s line up of superb instrumentalists who not only managed, but surpassed themselves, in presenting these exceedingly complex compositions. Bravo to you all.

Ron Ringer, ClassikON

If you missed out on Listen Up!, you can relive the evening through this stunning photography by Jared Underwood, and stay tuned for the showreel by Matt McGuigan (Hospital Hill).