Speak Percussion (plus 100 friends) make a quietly epic splash at the Melbourne Festival.

Can you remember the exact moment you fell in love for the first time? Or when you realised you were in pain after experiencing loss. For most of us, it’s impossible to pinpoint the precise instant. Realisation begins as a small, delicate trickle that grows over time – you only recognise it once you’re caught up in it: once you’re riding the wave.

When Michael Pisaro relates this potent aphoristic gem, we’re only just starting to rehearse his colossal sound work, A wave and waves. It was obvious before we’d even started this was a significant undertaking: calling together one hundred individual performers and engaging the creative and logistical expertise of some of the country’s (and the world’s) most inventive musical minds. But that’s Speak Percussion for you.

It was August when they issued the call, asking for performers to be a part of this groundbreaking project. My interest was piqued. I’m not a percussionist, but that didn’t matter: Speak was looking for any muso looking to join its giant multiplayer percussion organism. It’s this sort of inclusivity that sets Speak apart. New music might have...

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