Following the success of Ensemble Offspring’s first Kontiki Racket in 2016, the micro festival returns this month, with concerts of new and experimental music held across two days at the Paddington Town Hall in Sydney. Percussionist and EO Artistic Director Claire Edwardes tells Limelight about six world premieres that will have the audiences making some noise.

Claire EdwardesEnsemble Offspring’s Artistic Director Claire Edwardes

Christopher Fox’s Iron Rain

Christopher Fox is a composer I have worked with since my time in Europe in the early 2000s ­– he is also a dear friend – so when he emailed me one morning out of the blue to say he’d had a dream featuring music which sounded like electric guitar, piano and some clangorous percussion instrument he couldn’t quite put his finger on, I was intrigued. How was it possible that he knew I’d just received my brand new aluphone? Because when he explained the sound I was convinced that is what he had heard – he didn’t even know the instrument existed at that stage! So he went on to compose Iron Rain for Ensemble Offspring amidst a hellish year of his wife passing away from cancer. Huge respect to Christopher for following through on this one – it is going to be a very special world premiere on June 21.

Nicole Lizée’s Ribbon Windows A

Nicole Lizée is Canada’s hottest composer right now. She is super in demand, so when she agreed to write me a percussion solo inspired by Xenakis’s Rebonds A I was in shock. In typical Lizée style, rather than directly using the traditional Xenakis drum and woodblock sound world she has been scraping the woodblocks, blowing funky chords into a melodica, using my voice and tapping the edge of a bass drum. What fun!

Kontiki Racket, Callum G’FroererCallum G’Froerer playing the double bell trumpet

Alice Humphries’ Patience

Callum G’Froerer was our first ever Hatched Academy Associate Artist five years ago – we knew then that he had a great career ahead of him even then. He has been developing a new Australian repertory for the double bell trumpet, a very unusual instrument which Callum is the only exponent of in Australia. Also hailing from WA, Alice Humphries has worked with Callum on this unusual instrument and you will hear the unique result at Kontiki Racket.

Samantha Wolf’s new work

Our most recent 2018 Hatched Academy Composer School cohort featured the amazing Samantha Wolf. Since then she has gone on to win numerous prizes and awards and is proving herself to be the new kid on the block – we won’t hold it against her that she is from Melbourne. She has written a new trio for viola, percussion and trumpet working closely with Henry Justo (our 2019 Hatched Associate Artist), Niki Johnson and Callum in its development.

Hilary Kleinig’s Exquisite Peace

We are so excited to welcome the remarkable Zephyr Quartet from Adelaide at Kontiki Racket and especially their awesome program of mostly female composers. Their cellist, Hilary wrote Exquisite Peace as a musical way of capturing the essence of a moment of gratitude and stillness where she feels that everything is OK in her life, so perfect at that particular time: the rare, fragile beauty of such a crystalline space – which may come crashing back down at any moment.

Nicole Murphy’s Stolen

Nicole Murphy is our 2019 Noisy Women Composer – she’ll be working with the ensemble in August on her brand new work for premiere in 2020, but in the meantime we really wanted to feature a new arrangement of her rhythmically vital work Stolen, which she wrote recently during a stint in the USA. It has never been performed in Australia and is going to rock Concert 4 of Kontiki Racket with its edgy combination of double bass, drums, electric guitar, clarinet, keyboard and violin.

Ensemble Offspring’s Kontiki Racket is at Paddington Town Hall on June 21 and 22. New works by Christopher Fox, Nicole Lizée, Alice Humphries and Samantha Wolf premiere on the Friday, with Hilary Kleinig and Nicole Murphy’s works premiering on the Saturday.