Iva Bittova performing at Sounds Alive 2008

Sounds Alive ’08

At the Canberra International Music Festival

It’s music in the present tense.

7 – 18 May 2008

This was a unique series of 12 cutting edge concerts from around the globe, celebrating the best in new music: jazz, world, fusion, electronica, chamber, cabaret and multimedia, video performance — culminating in a seven hour marathon finale.

Sounds Alive ’08, Artistic Curator, Lisa Moore
The Canberra International Music Festival
@ The Street Theatre

Reviews and comments:

“From the perspective of a contemporary composer, it was by far the best thing musically that has happened since I have lived in Canberra. It was inspiring and invigorating, and….I appreciated the opportunity to hear such a selection of vibrant and exciting contemporary music.”
(Sandy France, composer)

“Many thanks for your contribution to a wonderful festival. In 30+ years of loving contemporary music, I have never had such a rich experience as the past ten days. The diversity, colour, surprise, vivacity, creativity, power and polish of the performances left the head spinning in excitement for hours after each. It is great to be introduced to new performers and composers. And in Canberra! A treat.”
(David Uren, music lover).

“The second half of the concert was devoted to the Caprichos Enfaticos for piano and percussion quartet by Martin Bresnick, with Moore joined by New York-based So Percussion. Based on the etchings Los Desastres de la Guerra by 18th century artist Francisco Goya, images from the etchings were projected on a large screen. It was engrossing and launched Sounds Alive ’08 on an exceedingly high note”
(W. L. Hoffman, Canberra Times, May’08)

“Three years in the making, Sounds Alive’08, curated by Canberra-born, Lisa Moore, now living in New York City, added pizzazz to the festival. This new music, 12 Sounds Alive concerts at The Street Theatre, delivered as promised – loud, soft, lyrical, poetic, rhythmic, visceral, sensual and passionate – featuring phenomenal artists never heard live in Australia, including Iva Bittova from the Czech Republic, Crash Ensemble from Dublin, Polygraph Lounge, Don Byron Ivey Divey Trio and So Percussion from New York City.

Many people, including some well-known artists in their own rights, came from far and wide to see and hear a particular artist or concert. Robyn Archer’s recital with Paul Grabowsky, reminiscent of her introducing Brecht to Australian audiences over twenty years ago, originated songs for today.

The last day Marathon, three two-hour sessions of short performances and cameo appearances, was spectacular, giving audiences the chance to see some of the festival guest artists one last time and set the stage for the festival finale. Seminal works including the Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time and Steve Reich’s Drumming had audiences captivated from morning to night. Only a few took up the invitation to leave during the final 70-minute concert of the one rhythm repeated in Steve Reich’s Drumming. Those who stayed were given an electrifying finale performed by So Percussion and ANU’s DRUMatix with Gary France, vocals by Eileen Mack and Lisa Moore and piccolo by Adrian Faille. It was a glorious end to a robust festival.

Poet, writer and patron, Barbara Blackman compared the festival to an electric current, with the composer braving his or her imagination, the musician taking up the challenge of the performance and the audiences’ engagement completing the circuit.”
(Su Hodge, Canberra Arts Marketing and free-lance writer)

The Sounds Alive’08 performing artists were:

Robyn Archer
Iva Bittova
Martin Bresnick
Crash Ensemble
Dean Emerson Dean Trio
Don Byron Ivey-Divey Trio
Ensemble Offspring
Gary France
Paul Grabowsky
Grainger String Quartet
Eileen Mack
Lisa Moore
Pine Eyes (Pinocchio)
Polygraph Lounge
Rob Schwimmer
So Percussion

Visiting composers:

Iva Bittova
Martin Bresnick
Don Byron
Brett Dean
Donnacha Dennehy
Andrew Ford
Paul Grabowsky
David Harris
Kat McGuffie
Damien Ricketson
Michael Smetanin

Sounds Alive ’08

Thursday May 8
Friday May 9
Saturday May 10
Sunday May 11
Monday May 12
Tuesday May 13
Wednesday May 14
Thursday May 15
Friday May 16
Saturday May 17

Sunday May 18

Thursday May 8
8pm Sounds Alive 1

“ipiano: my brilliant career”

Lisa Moore imageLISA MOORE, piano, electronics and voice
with guest artists: So Percussion
“Moore presented an extraordinary program at the keyboard and microphone…her four large-scale works, each displaying monumental qualities…” The AustralianCanberra-born, New York based theatrical pianist,
and Artistic Curator of Sounds Alive ‘08 presents
the series’ opening concert with new, visual and
dramatic works—and guests: So Percussion (from NYC).

Frederic Rzewski: To His Coy Mistress (Australian Premiere)
Don Byron: Seven Etudes (Australian Premiere)
Annie Gosfield: New Work (World Premiere)+
Martin Bresnick: Caprichos Enfaticos* (Australian Premiere)

*(Images by Goya from The Disasters of War. Visual designer: Johanna Bresnick)

+ commissioned by Lisa Moore with funds from Argosy Foundation and Meet the Composer

“delicacy mingles with brusqueness….Lisa Moore’s energy is illuminating”
New York Times

“It was also bursting with ideas and sounds from the very first bars: whale-like growls produced by the pianist, Lisa Moore, playing the strings of her piano by pulling other strings across them in an act that evoked everything from the birth of cable to evisceration”
New York Times


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Friday May 9
8pm Sounds Alive 2

“Big Bang Theory”

So Percussion imageSO PERCUSSION
For the first time in Australia, from New York City comes this virtuosic, high intensity dynamic pulsing percussion quartet, using multiple drumming instruments ranging from bass drums and planks of wood to teacups while performing new works by American composers.Program:
Jason Treuting Amid The Noise (with video) **
David Lang The So-Called Laws of Nature **
Steve Reich Music for Pieces of Wood.
Performers: Jason Treuting, Adam Sliwinski, Josh Quillen and Eric Beach

** Australian premiere

“The range of colors and voices that So Percussion coaxes from its menagerie is astonishing and entrancing.”
Billboard Magazine

“brilliant…consistently impressive…The players in So Percussion were energetic and thorough in mining all these works for their visceral and structural thrills.”
The New York Times


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Saturday May 10
8pm Sounds Alive 3

(A Sounds Alive world premier!)

Paul Grabowsky & Robyn ArcherWritten and performed by ROBYN ARCHER and PAUL GRABOWSKY

Two seasoned travelers conjure in music the cities that shape their imagination. Sometimes tough, sometimes tender, these sites are not just geographical realities, but places of the heart and mind.
With words by Robyn and music by Paul this will be a collaboration to savour, and a performance to relish.

Of their last work together, the Melbourne Age wrote:

“Archer is a polished entertainer with a beautiful mezzo that sounds as fresh as it did 30 years ago … The warmth is real but beneath it is a political commitment of intransigent steel…In Grabowsky she has a musical arranger of genius… his settings fit her lyrics like a glove …Exhilarating, brave and musically satisfying.”

Now they embark on a new set of songs focusing on different cities around the world. Don’t miss this Sounds Alive 08 world premiere.


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Sunday May 11
3pm Sounds Alive 4

“PINE EYES: The Adventure of Pinocchio” **

Martin Bresnick and the Adventures of Pine EyesA music-theater production featuring projected images, narration and live music.
Music and performance narration by Martin Bresnick.
Multiple percussion performed by So Percussion members: Jason Treuting and Adam Slowinski. Piano/Keyboards Lisa Moore, Clarinets: Eileen Mack.
Visual images by Puppetsweat Theatre: Robert Bresnick, Leslie Weinberg video artists.For the first time in Australia “Pine Eyes” is performed as a startling musical and visual masterpiece, based on the original Pinocchio story (not the Walt Disney), with narrated text translated from the original Italian (Carlo Collodi). Here the special character of Pinocchio’s story is portrayed–that of a poor wooden puppet who through a series of vivid adventures comes to learn and later embody the ambivalence of the human condition. The story is told through narration, screened original Puppetsweat imagery and theatrical musical accompaniment. This is magical and dark entertainment suitable for both children and adults. (90 minutes with interval).

“direct, vigorous, vivid, unadorned”
(New Music Box)


** Australian premiere

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“PINE EYES: The Adventures of Pinocchio”
Pine Eyes image

Monday May 12

8pm Sounds Alive 5


All the way from Dublin this young amplified 20-piece chamber band (directed by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy) make their Australian debut. They will perform 2 diverse concerts featuring works from around the globe. In this first night the program includes works for the ensemble and soloists with electronics by American Evan Ziporyn, and Donnacha Dennehy and a world premiere by Australian composer Michael Smetanin.Program:
Aria 51-John Godfrey **
New Work – Michael Smetanin *+
Music in Similar Motion – Phillip Glass
Kebyar Maya – Evan Ziporyn
Grá agus Bás – Donnacha Dennehy **

The Crash Ensemble, one of Ireland’s most dynamic and innovative performance groups was founded in 1997 by composer Donnacha Dennehy. Since its first sold-out concert in Dublin in the autumn of 1997, the group has attracted enthusiastic audiences for its particular blend of music, video and electronics. The group is interdisciplinary in outlook, and considers its sound engineers, technicians and video makers as much a part of the enterprise as the musicians.

“a magnificently energetic, wildly cacophonous vocal work…Iarla O Lionaird sang the Gaelic text with simplicity and directness in a plaintive folk style, and the ensemble — amplified strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and electric guitar, with Alan Pierson conducting — gave it a powerful account”
The New York Times (re Gra agus Bas)

“The performances are fresh, furious and frenetic. Central to Junk Box Fraud, with its virile intrusions of jazz and rock, and to his catchy Streetwalker, are the idiosyncratic Crash Ensemble. They display an “ownership” of these works somewhat reminiscent of The Fires of London and Peter Maxwell Davies. According to Dennehy, Crash was intrinsic to their conception.”

*+World premiere-Australia Council commission
** Australian premiere


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Tuesday May 13
6pm Sounds Alive 6


The hottest new music group from Sydney, led by composer Damien Ricketson,
present a Damien Ricketson/Christopher Wallace-Crabbe world premiere for narrator, clarinet and ‘speaking’ percussionists followed by a large-scale sonic-literary spectacle ‘A Line has Two’ (based upon Wallace-Crabbe’s poem The Alignments). Featuring the sounds of the voice, clarinet, marimba and vibraphone plus an unusual palette of instruments including bowed-crystal glasses, an ancient Greek aulos, Balinese gongs and electronics, the composer and poet present a unique and multifaceted relationship between music and text whereby written, spoken and sung forms of the text each provide subtly different versions of the same idea.“… sounds seemed to hover in the air before they landed exquisitely in one’s ear. This work is like a wooden box of very small compartments full of delicious treats for the ears and eyes.”

“Trust Ensemble Offspring to go their own way … another intelligent and intriguing show from a group committed to asking ‘what if?’”
Sydney Morning Herald


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Wednesday May 14
8pm Sounds Alive 7

(e)motionCrash Ensemble

CRASH ENSEMBLE (see above 12 May)

This Irish gang of amplified virtuosi presents a second concert culminating in a performance of the extraordinary “Van Gogh Video Opera”, for 3 vocalists and chamber ensemble. Don’t miss this moving setting of Vincent’s letters to his brother Theo, created by American post-minimalist master composer Michael Gordon (co-director of Bang on a Can).

Streetwalker – Donnacha Dennehy **
New Work – Kat McGuffie*+
Van Gogh Video Opera – Michael Gordon **

“the Irish new-music band that plays with the energy and spirit of a rock group”
New York Times

“The Crash Ensemble has established something of a reputation not just for selling out their concerts, but for having to turn people away on the night. The group’s first appearance in the John Field Room on Sunday ran true to form.”
The Irish Times

** Australian premiere

10pm Sounds Alive 8
(Studio Theatre doors open 9.30pm – this show runs for 3 nights)

“SMORGAMUSIC” …never before in Australia!

Polygraph LoungePOLYGRAPH LOUNGE (from New York City) present:
Mark Stewart—electric guitar, vocal and many other bits and pieces
Rob Schwimmer–keyboards, theremin
Melissa Fathman–soprano
Plundering the common cultural currency of yesterday, today and tomorrow, Polygraph Lounge is a virtuosic trio specializing in musical hilarity/anarchy in the Spike Jones tradition. Musical cabaret and parody featuring 3 shockingly diverse, super-talented musicians from New York. Hear literary and musical references from rock to classical, also featuring audience involvement (nose flutes!).

“Finally, nothing all season was as much fun as an evening at the Somerville Theatre with the two anarchic musicians of Polygraph Lounge. These guys know 250 years of music cold and make amazing and amusing connections among its disparate strands. Where else would you hear a reference to ”Ornette Funicello”?”
The Boston Globe (Best of 2005)

“Mad genius should always be this fun!”
The New York Times

“Vibrantly screwy”
Time Out New York (2007)

“Musically high-minded but hilariously lowbrow and always maniacal!”
New York Post (Mary’s Hot Pick 2007)


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Thursday May 15
6pm Sounds Alive 9


The Dean Emmerson Dean TrioTHE DEAN EMMERSON DEAN TRIO …presenting new and inspired chamber music.
Viola: Brett Dean
Clarinet: Paul Dean
Piano: Stephen EmmersonProgram:
Brett Dean Night Window
Andrew Schultz Stick Dance 2
Katia Tchemberdji In namen Amadeus
Martin Bresnick “*** Trio” **
Ross Edwards Binyang

The Dean Emmerson Dean trio was formed in 1993 by three Brisbane-born musicians to explore and expand the rich repertoire of trios and duo sonatas for clarinet, viola and piano. Each member of the trio is an acclaimed virtuoso on his instrument. Violist Brett Dean was a member of the famous Berlin Philharmonic for fifteen years and has an impressive career as a composer and chamber musician. Paul Dean was principal clarinet with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra from 1988 to 2000 and has performed both solo and chamber concerts in London, Norway, South Korea, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, China and Japan. Pianist Stephen Emmerson is a lecturer at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University who pursues a busy career as a successful solo and chamber music pianist with recent performances in Japan and London.

“Theirs is a singular partnership that gives new life to the music they love…they revel in the extraordinary unanimity of sound created from the blend of their instruments.”
Courier Mail, Brisbane

“a dynamic and first-rate chamber ensemble”
International Clarinet Magazine.

“a performance to treasure, every phase sounding like some ideal performance lodged deep in my memory”
The Dominion Post, NZ

** Australian premiere


9.30pm/10pm Polygraph Lounge: musical cabaret/parody

(as for May 14)

Polygraph Lounge

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Friday May 16
8pm Sounds Alive 10


Iva Bittova in performanceIVA BITTOVA
voice and violin, with Lisa Moore piano
Lullabies and songs by Bittova, Janacek, Shostakovitch, Ravel, Brahms, Borodin, Bartok, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Scott, Gershwin, Ives, Lennon-McCartney, Eno, Newman, Moore and Byron: gypsy, jazz and classical intertwine to produce a moving blend of warm, lush, lyrical eclectic world music.For the first time in Australia the vocally extraordinary and legendary Czech songstress and violinist Iva Bittova appears in Canberra. She is an artist who defies classification. Some compare her to Meredith Monk, others to Laurie Anderson. Bittova, drawing from a well of pure natural talent and Gypsy blood, is an outstanding performer of raw, lush, lyrical and passionate music.

“Though well-known from her entrancing recordings, Bittová is more of a marvel in person. Physically slight and wearing a red cocktail dress, she emitted an incredibly improbable combination of sounds with pinpoint precision, as casually as most people would a folk song or nursery rhyme. Imagine Minnie Ripperton as a chattering fairy or Meredith Monk on helium gas.
Always…she seemed to operate from some musical ground zero – one that also put you in touch with the most elemental purpose of music, and why you first came to love it.

The Philadelphia Inquirer


9.30pm/10pm Polygraph Lounge: musical cabaret/parody

(as for May 14/15)
Polygraph Lounge

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Saturday May 17
8pm Sounds Alive 11


The Don Byron Ivey Divey TrioDON BYRON IVEY DIVEY TRIO
(Grammy-nominated, from New York City, first-ever tour to Australia)

Don Byron, clarinet and tenor saxophone,
George Colligan, piano,
Rudy Royston, drums.
Named “Jazz Artist of the Year” by Down Beat in 1992, for well over a decade Don Byron has been a singular voice in an astounding range of musical contexts, exploring widely divergent traditions while continually striving for what he calls “a sound above genre.” As clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, arranger, and social critic, he redefines every genre of music he plays, be it classical, salsa, hip-hop, funk, rhythm & blues, klezmer, or any jazz style from swing and bop to cutting-edge downtown improvisation.
Taking its name and much of its repertoire from Byron’s 2004 album voted “Record of the Year” by JazzTimes, hailed as Don’s “best album in years” by The New York Times, and featuring a Grammy-nominated solo on the track “I Want to Be Happy” the “Ivey-Divey Trio” extends that record’s affectionate tribute to saxophone legend Lester “Prez” Young (and specifically, to Young’s great ’40s trio with pianist Nat “King” Cole and drummer Buddy Rich).

“…thoughtful, witty, varied, inventive, succinct and fun modern music—what else do you need to know?”

“Calling Don Byron a jazz musician is like calling the Pacific wet—it just doesn’t begin to describe it… Byron has carpentered an extraordinary career precisely by obliterating the very idea of category.”
TIME Magazine


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Sunday May 18
11am – 6pm

It’s Canberra’s biggest concert ever. It’s 7 hours long!

Please join us for one massive final festival blowout concert.
Relax and listen all day. Eat and drink at the venue and enjoy great music making.
The festival forces combine to present an array of sensational performers in music that defies boundaries and genres.
Come and go as you like with an all day pass or buy single session tickets.

Featuring musicians: Drumatix, So Percussion, Iva Bittova, Don Byron Ivey Divey Trio, Rob Schwimmer, Lisa Moore, Eileen Mack, Polygraph Lounge, Stopera, Gary France, Clarity Clarinet Quartet, The Grainger String Quartet and more.
(Full program TBA.)

PROGRAM includes:
Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time
Leos Janácek: String Quartet No. 2 Intimate Letters
Don Byron: Selections
Paul Lansky: Threads
Iva Bittova: Roots
Rob Schwimmer: Beyond the Sky selections
Frederic Rzewski: Piano Piece no.4
Polygraph Lounge: Smorgasmusic Encore!
Kurt Weill: Selected Songs.
Steve Reich: Piano Phase/Video Phase
Steve Reich: Drumming

VENUE: The Street Theatre
Cnr of Childers St and University Ave, Acton ACT