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South Coast séjour! (by Alice Chance)

A guest article by Sydney-based composer Alice Chance.

This week, Ensemble Offspring members Claire, Lamorna and Jason along with myself (Alice Chance – hello!) visited Nowra and Bundanon in preparation for Sonic Sites.

With freshly-commissioned Australian works packed in our bags and instruments bundled in the boot, we set off down the Princes Highway to begin our South Coast séjour. We began with a workshop at Nowra East Public School where I worked with a choir of 50+ enthusiastic singers, some of whom had contributed to the very text they were singing. Composer mates Bree van Reyk, Brenda Gifford, Amanda Cole, and Tristan Coehlo wrote for these singers using a mixture of the young singers’ poetry and local Yuin language, thanks to local language custodian Uncle Jacob Morris.

Alice and Jason enjoying the NSW South Coast bushland

That same night, Ensemble Offspring worked with the Shoalhaven Youth Orchestra at the charming Nowra School of the Arts, introducing these young ears to the four composers’ works, as well as another new work by Damien Barbeler featuring graphic scoring and improvisation. A highlight of the rehearsal was a demonstration of Jason’s new contrabass clarinet, after which a competition of ‘how low can you go’ ensued amongst the low strings and brass. Minds were blown that night!

The following day, Bundanon Trust’s Nicole Smede (a gifted musician herself) showed us around the Bundanon Homestead as we scoped out the perfect location for our Sonic Sites concert on June 17. Tramping in the mud, imagining lights and scattered young musicians in the scrub, we found a beautiful locale in the bush to premiere these five unique new works. 

The concert will certainly be something special, featuring new music, young local voices and instrumentalists all amongst a towering ancient landscape, complemented by light box imagery dotted throughout the trees by Samuel James.

Alice and Jason strolling through green meadows at Bundanon