The Bennelong of Bangarra Dance Theatre tells a life story in music and dance

Composer Steve Francis’ rating for Bennelong, the latest job from Bangarra Dance Theatre, owes a small debt to a obscure, long-dead Welsh harpist.

Were it not for the quick thinking of Edward Jones, Francis clarifies, an outstanding occasion could have been lost to us.

Yolanda Lowatta and Kaine Sultan-Babij prepare for Bangarra Dance Theatre's 'Bennelong'.
Yolanda Lowatta and Kaine Sultan-Babij prepare for Bangarra Dance Theatre’s ‘Bennelong’.   Photo: Janie Barrett

It was Edwards who transcribed a traditional tune sung by two Aboriginal warriors, Bennelong and Yemmerrawanne, at William Waterhouse’s London house. Waterhouse was Lieutenant Henry Waterhouse, who arrived at Sydney Cove with the First Fleet aboard HMS Sirius’ father.

“We do not know exactly what Bennelong was singing because the words have been written down phonetically but at least we know what it seemed just like melodically,” says Francis, who’s incorporated Edwards’ transcription at the score for Bennelong, the Stephen Page-choreographed story of the life of the warrior, ambassador and clan leader.

Francis is one of the composers in Australia’s dance and theater scene. Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, Griffin along with Bell Shakespeare audiences have all experienced his job but it was his artistic affiliation with Bangarra along with Stephen Page along with also his brother composer David Page that is the strongest and longest lasting.

“I met with Stephen and David something like 20 years ago,” Francis says. “Dealing with Bangarra was how I got to composing for the theater. The very first ever play I did was Leah Purcell’s Box the Pony, and that just came about because I met Leah through David. That led to working with David on Page 8, his one-man show at Belvoir and through that, Belvoir offered me more sound design work. Eventually I moved into composing.”

Last year David Page expired. His effect on Bangarra and about Francis is profound.

“David actually produced a great genre in what he did for Bangarra,” Francis says. “How he blended contemporary music with traditional tunes and instruments has been quite influential for folks like me, and Paul Mac, and also for many others he collaborated with. His influence is always that when I compose for Bangarra.”

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Francis’ rating for Bennelong is one of the most complicated and ambitious the composer has produced. The crowd will hear diverse elements, ranging from Haydn’s Surprise Symphony (composed the year before Bennelong went to London) to captured voices from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a salty old sea shanty, fragments of Waltzing Matilda and a poetic celebrity spoken by actor and Cleverman celebrity Hunter Page-Lochard.

Scoring for dance is different from composing for the theater, says Francis. “There is no text or celebrities’ voices you’ll be able to hide behind,” he states. “But in addition, it is rather liberating to get a composer. I follow my gut, could be experimental and be diverse. At Bennelong, each chapter has some thing worthy or melodic that is quite individual to it but at exactly the identical time, it all must feel as a part of the same show.”

Francis’ score needs the 18 dancers of Bangarra to sing. It isn’t an easy request, states cast member Tara Gower. “Not everyone felt convinced, largely because we use our breath quite differently when we are moving,” she states. “We needed to understand how to breathe for moving and singing in exactly the identical time.”

Some of speech words and the vocals are from Murawi man Matthew Doyle while other elements of poetry and text have been composed by playwright and dramaturg Alana Valentine.

Music manager Iain Grandage assisted the dancers find their voice. “He helped us operate on a chant that is so strong,” Gower says. “It is really going to hit on the audience like flourish! People will be pumped out.”

Bennelong is on in the Sydney Opera House from June 29 and in Arts Centre Melbourne September 7 to 16.

Sasha Is Still Capable of Dance Music Miracles

It begins with an arresting arrangement of orchestral percussion and plucked violins that dances dizzily around a kick drum that is slow. Behind an assortment of keyboards and sequencers, Sasha bobs his head in concentration. An eerily recognizable string refrain eases gently into the arrangement, until the beat drops from the distinctive riff of his 1999 only “Xpander” divides the soundscape open just like the very first rays of sun after a storm.

In its original shape, “Xpander” was among those endorphin-rush anthems that cemented Sasha’s standing as one of dance music’s best talents, years after the early 90s hype which saw actors printing hyperbolic coverlines such as “SashaMania” and “The Son of God.” Therefore, it is a tune that the Welsh DJ has played hundreds, possibly thousands, of times. It’s always felt like a miracle, but never quite like this.

Onstage around him in London’s Barbican Centre before this year there have been also many folks around him to rely in one glance: one of them, a complete string section, also a set of percussionists, an assortment of guest vocalists and a handful of manufacturing buddies assisting on synthesizers and other more digital music hardware. This isn’t the normal stage setup that the manufacturer born Alexander Paul Coe was utilized to over his decades in dancing music. Usually it’s been him or in a duo with John Digweed, stoically clubbers on a kaleidoscopic journey through the deepest feelings and the most blissful ecstasy. But assisted by a few additional sets of hands–and almost two decades of perspective–that the live version of “Xpander” feels different, more full of breath and life, than ever.

The new rendition of the piece–that arrives today, as part of a Blu-Ray launch of a set of shows he played before this year named reFracted: Live at the Barbican–builds for at least four minutes before the arcing melody that fans know and love ultimately appears. “I had a walk-through in the Barbican and just imagined what it would sound like if Steve Reich was enjoying ‘Xpander,'” he states.

While the intro is really a nod to this icon of minimalist music, those long buildups, slowly teasing fragments of a recognizable melody or deep into the mix before unleashing it in total, are Sasha through and through–something many other DJs imitate but nobody does like him. Experiencing this in a Sasha series could be moving, but Sasha talks in a manner that is typically understated. “I actually liked this notion of starting it off with some thing where individuals would not know exactly what it was to begin with,” he states.

However, in a way, this new variant of “Xpander” feels a perfect metaphor for where Sasha’s head is at right now. It’s a look back to bygone euphoria, however, the speed is slower, which, in Sasha’s words “opens the record up.” The effect is a feeling of spaciousness and depth that is difficult to put into words–it is evocative of raves gone by but in precisely the identical time pulsing with new energy. In the same way, Sasha is bursting with thoughts, but he has also learned the benefits of slowing down once in a while. “Everything was a bit quicker back into the nineties,” he says, laughing.

Until last year, Sasha had not published a full scale album in almost a decade and a half. Scene Perform, his first since 2002’s masterly Airdrawndagger, was a melodic, downtempo record that echoed his passion for the ambient music produced by behaves such as KLF and The Orb in the height of his stardom. It was a low-key affair, however, the launch appears to get kicked him back. Since that time, heimproved his touring schedule,’s set out many paths and built that the show. Perhaps most importantly, he’s also reunited with John Digweed for their very first shows in a decade. His recent gigs, and those sets, were electrifying by all accounts — but for this point he had to strip everything back and focus on what was most significant.

“My touring gets the better of me, actually,” he clarifies. “I felt as though I was chasing my tail with my career. Back in 2015 and 2014, I had got to a point where I said yes to nearly every gig I was being supplied. I didn’t feel like I had a central strategy for where I was going with things.”

He took six months off touring and abandoned New York to work in The Village studio in Los Angeles–a mythical space which has hosted a litany of musicians, from Herbie Hancock to Neil Young to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers–to operate on Scene Play and get a perspective. He also learnt the value of having a normal pattern: “Going to work each and every single day, and getting home in time to get supper, spending time with my family. Getting plenty of exercise and remaining sober, doing things which were good for my head. After I had got any emotion it was very clear what I wanted.”

Among the things he wanted, it turned out, was to create some of the best club records he has made in years–running the gamut from the claustrophobic techno of “Gameovr,” through the the chugging bass and moody vocals of “From Time” and the piercing synths of “Do The Maff,” all of the way to the anthemic come-to-Jesus breakdowns of “Trigonometry” and the blissful Destiny’s Child sample which runs through “Track 10.”

“All that stuff came off the back of working on Scene Delete,” he states. “it was this kind of spaced-out, ambient album that I actually wished to create some techno then. And it all came out of me taking a step away from the street and clearing my head for the very first time in quite a long moment.”

That break also aided him realise there were people that he wished to be part of his life again, such as the producers Charlie May (obviously Spooky celebrity) and Barry Jamieson, who both collaborated from the reFracted gigs. “2016 was annually of me reconnecting with a lot of people I had possibly lost contact with,” he states.

His reunion with Digweed specifically has put both chatrooms and dancefloors alight, and it’s definitely had an effect on him. Considering that the duo stopped playing together regularly in 2009, theories concerning the divide have raged in traces in the club and audio forums, but even the most eccentric explanations seem to have been put to bed by the utter pleasure it has given lovers to watch them playing too.

Sasha himself refers to it as “repairing my connection with John” but provides little colour on the split. “Although we had not dropped out, we’d grown apart from being on the street for 12 years,” he states. “A lot of bands do not last anywhere near that long.”

“Sometimes you only need a break from individuals. And John certainly needed a break in me,” he chuckles.

Has ignited hopes of gigs together. However, Sasha’s not confident on the notion of another residency before the club’s closure in 2001.

“I think it’s really very important to leave people wanting more,” he states. “If they can see you each month, there are times when it is possible to eliminate the magic a little bit. But there are plenty of areas John and I want to playwith. That area in DC [the gig at Echostage in August of the pair] was amazing. I would love to find someplace in NYC at which we could do something similar.”

It does not look like much of a stretch to connect this restraint with the equilibrium.

“The thing I strive for in my own life is finding equilibrium, and I look back and see phases where there is equilibrium and intervals of time at which it is out of equilibrium,” he says, before offering a classically self-deprecating spin on the successes of the past calendar year. “Every year I believe I am going to do it better next year.”

A 1000-copy streak of reFracted: Live at the Barbican is now readily available for pre-order for September 18.

Can Caiger-Smith is a writer and reporter based in New York. He’s on Twitter.

A Zouk orchestra galore, along with some piano science: 3 music that is Unique shows to Grab

SINGAPORE: Looking to grab a concert which takes things? Whether you’re in rock, dance or classical, daring music lovers can look forward to 3 shows which do.

One of the shows at the continuing National University of Singapore (NUS) Arts Festival is Vibrational, by experimental rock band The Observatory. It sports 30 additional guitar players at a juggernaut of a show. On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Quantum Music Project is what happens once pianists hang outside using nimble-minded quantum physicists.

And if you would like your clubbing with some of those sudden, there’s The Henderson Project’s One More Time tribute to Zouk — a mash-up of your dance hits done with a orchestra. Prepared to listen to find out more?

Longtime Zouk resident DJ Aldrin (seen here at ZoukOut 2008) has come up with a 90-minute set that has been transposed to an orchestral score for Just One More Time. (Photo: Aldrin Quek)


Perhaps you have considered partying into an orchestra’s audio? Well, there’s always a first time for every thing.

A throwback concert next week is celebrating its Jiak Kim Street times at a way, although iconic dance club Zouk might have already moved into a new home in Clarke Quay.

Instead of DJs carrying court, a occasion titled One More Time will feature a 48-piece orchestra performing a pair of Zouk staples.

Held at the iconic Capitol Theatre, which will be cleared to become one dance floor on March 24 and 25, the concert is the most recent production under theater company Dream Academy&rsquoexperimental stage The Henderson Project. Aside from the orchestra, there are guest vocalists and musicians which include X Rani Singam & rsquo;ho violinist Lynnette Seah Zouk resident percussionist M S Maniam, among others.

Basically a portrait of Zouk over the last quarter of a century has been that the brain child of Dream Academy’s her husband and Selena Tan John Pok. The couple had had seen a functionality in London by the Heritage Orchestra, which performed music by drum and bass music legend Goldie. When information of Zouk being sold and proceeded came they decided to push through with the project, roping in preceding Zouk resident DJ Aldrin Quek, a friend and collaborator.

Quek, ” the show’s artistic director, suggested they take the dance-meets-orchestra idea one step farther.

“” I believed it would be fun to make it like a DJ set where the audio is non-stop,&rdquo.

Tasked with constructing the tracks which music director and conductor Indra Ismail would later transcribes to an musical score — it was a undertaking for the DJ.

“We had to select the best of the best of the entire 25 years, but we also realised that not many might all have lived through it, and only a couple of us would know all of the music. So I had to take that under consideration,” stated Quek.

The show will not only require Zouksters down memory lane but even through the signature sounds of this club’s rooms, like the chill out songs at Wine Bar into the breakbeats and hip of Phuture.

The setlist contains rsquo & the show;s titular trail from Daft Punk, Faithless’ Insomnia and Ame’s Rej, but Quek desires the rest. As for almost any nods to Zouk’s most Mambo Jambo nighttime, he conceded that there’ll be a Fatboy Slim remix in there somewhere.

“I had to make certain that that the music flowed together concerning style musical keys and groove. We would like people to be more dance from the start,” he explained.

And also make sure there’s lots of them, too. While employing an orchestra is costly, organisers recently decided to slash costs for tickets on the dance floor department (aka “posh pit”) into S$88 to lure more audiences to get a appropriate party vibe. The cost change begins at 9pm on Thursday (March 16) on Sistic.

Meanwhile, the tasked with keeping the audio is that the music director in charge of the 48 musicians enjoying non-stop. Transposing dance music for the orchestra was the initial part — come show time, Indra Ismail are also right there at the thick of things, running the whole thing from begin to finish.

“To be truthful, I’m not sure I’m likely to sustain but I must! I’ve must visit the gym and be in good shape mentally and emotionally,” he quipped. “But I have to ensure that I have the support of everybody, particularly and enjoying” stated Indra.

Added Quek: “Plenty of dance music is all digital loops, drum or tune loops for a musician to play a hundred over pubs of exactly the exact same issue isn’t straightforward! I hope they get used to it. ”

Regardless of the physical challenges for the musicians, they assert to make it a memorable night with.

“rsquo & We;re still playing with house music using instrumentation,” said Indra. &ldquo what, for 90 minutes, it’s oomph oomph oomph all the way! ”

In 2015, The Observatory conducted Vibrational in France using 20 extra guitarists. This time around, they’ve roped in 30 of them for the NUS Arts Festival. (Photo: The Idealiste)


For their second gig, Singapore experimental rock band The Observatory has roped to help create a gigantic “walls of noise&rdquo.

But throughout the band’s meeting with their youthful collaborators, they had to begin with some rock guitar principles — the necessity to actually possess a guitar strap.

“Some of them were sitting down because they didn’t even have any! ” recalled drummer-percussionist Cheryl Ong.

The show Vibrational, which will wrap up the continuing NUS Arts Festival 2017 on March 25, includes the band performing with members of the NUS Guitar Ensemble (GENUS) along with other student guitarists. It’s this show’s next iteration — together with all the guitar outfit Guitarkestra, the band performed in Toulouse, France along at 2015.

The Observatory will perform tracks from their albums August Is The Cruellest along with Oscilla. Their guitarist collaborators can come in for the composed titular tune as well as the next half to perform in a few of the songs. Helping out at the performance are band alumni, Dharma and guitarists Victor Low.

Rehearsals started in January, and it’s been a steep learning curve for those students, said keyboardist Vivian Wang.

“They all had guitar wallpapers, but a number of them had never played with with the guitar; re not enjoying standard tuning & rsquo; we and there’therefore these time signatures they must manage. But they’ve worked hard at it — we keep telling them to just loosen up, use your own ears and don’t rely about an score,” he explained.

It helped too that a number of the band members understood where the students were coming from. While direct vocalist-guitarist Leslie Low and musician Yuen Chee Wai learned that the “DIY” way, Wang and Ong are classically trained musicians.

“I arrived out of a conventional backdrop,” said Ong, who plays with classic music trio SA that was experimental. “When I look at them, ” I’m reminded of myself. I keep telling them that it & rsquo; s difficult to go beyond that barrier, but I let them let go and I understand their worries about following a score. ”

So can a “walls of noise” sound like?

“The first idea was really to earn a performance which you just don’t only hear concerning volume but you really feel it in your chest and tummy,” explained Wang, who cited other bands which have done something similar, like American guitarist Rhys Chatham along with his own 100-guitar orchestra.

She continued: “Envision six vibrating strings on one guitar; 34 guitars, which are different; that’s 204 strings vibrating and amplified, also drums and voice along with other items. It’s not about busting your ear buds; we wish to have an kind of sense in regards to noise. ”

The thought of using many guitars to create a layered sound experience was partly inspired by the band’s earlier experiments gamelan music, in which occasionally the very same notes have been tuned just a fraction apart, making a vibrating feeling called the “defeat frequency”.

Wang included: “It’s like a pantone chart where there’s not only one form of yellow or blue but a wide assortment of them — so when you playwith, you’re likely to get this richness of tone and noise, and you truly feel the vibrations. ”

The gamelan experiments also opened their own eyes (and ears) to the idea of “enjoying slightly off”, which they expect can also be observed in Vibrational.

“When you see a gig, you don’t even need a fantastic CD quality functionality right? You need to observe the musicians kind of teetering on the edge of falling apart, fighting to vibe with the crowd. (Vibrational) is a little bit like that,” said Wang, who disclosed it’ll also be their final show in a little while, as they take a hiatus to plan for their next album.

“rsquo & there; s things, such a wealthy wall of it and I believe when sound is imperfect. It’s likely to excite your own ears far more than the crafted concert you’ll be able to sip tea at. ”

Experimental piano collection LP Duo will be doing “hybrid pianos” which are plugged to a computer creating quantum mathematical equations – all for the listening enjoyment. (Photo: LP Duo)


It’s not every day get a lecture on quantum physics like a bonus and you choose to see a piano concert.

But that’s exactly what you’ll get when you catch The Quantum Music Project (QMP), which will be held on March 21 and 22 as part of this continuing NUS Arts Festival 2017.

Belgrade pianist team LP Duo will be doing experimental bits while at exactly the exact same time, physicists will go up to explain the relationship between audio and quantum physics.

The Singapore concert is the under this distinctive project between scientists and musicians. It started in 2012, using sound engineer Dragan Novkovic and quantum physicist Vlatko Vedral thinking up of ways to flake and hang out outside “playing dolls and drinking beer,” quipped the prior.

Hitting upon the notion of a job that combined their two disciplines, LP Duo was roped in by them.

Bespite being rather daring and musicians themselves, the pianists admitted it took a while for them to get it.

“Dealing with laws of quantum physics? This was very hard to imagine in the start. But things like a particle in the instant in similar quantum phenomena or two areas are extremely inspirational to be shown through audio and sound,” stated LP Duo’s Sonja Loncar.

So what exactly is the link between classical music and also quantum physics?

“Math, physics and acoustics are areas where these meet very readily,” said LP Duo pianist Andrija Pavlovic.

“There were lots of experiments by several composers from the 1960s, but we’re carrying it a step forward. Play and we chose to make the audio of this 21st century, combining acoustic pianos using also and analog synths digital noises; whereas the physicists do simulations of the quantum sounds, which we then manipulate. ”

For the concert, each key in both grand pianos is attached to a detector, which feeds to a computer which alters the sound generated.

Even though QMP did something similar at the Keyboard Times Belgrade Festival this past year, the hybrid-pianos will be making their debut. (NUS Centre for Quantum Technologies’ Andrew Garner is also highly involved in QMP.)

Their show here is a dry-run for bigger things for the project. Back in September, a premiere of their multimedia show will be held at Copenhagen, which will then be followed with a Europe tour.

“And we really hope to have the ability to bring the entire show here in Singapore at 2018. That’s most one of our goals and such concerts are an essential step to generate something like this possible,” stated Novkovic.

So what if you’re a music lover who knows next to nothing? Don’t said Loncar.

“There is not any need to be prepared, because one of the aims for us is to exhibit the laws of quantum physics in a way that everyone can easily understand. ”

And if you believe they’re folk that is extreme and serious, well, there’s of them playing blindfolded a video floating around.

“because we wished to show our virtuosity This began at the same concert – but Dragan and Vlatko were inspired and discovered a link between that and the quantum world. Come and see the show! ”