Time as Revelator embraces the jagged edge of classical music

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Time as a revealer
Bodywork, July 16
★★★★½

Ensemble Offspring returns to Carriageworks with a massive program of new vocals against 20th century icons, all driven by the beat.

Good atmosphere: Claire Edwardes, percussionist from the Offspring Ensemble.Credit:

Fold/Boogie/Pause by Australian composer Holly Harrison is a perfect introduction to the whole thing, a subversive statement of intent: we’re not here to play well, we’re here to to play. For this work, that means rigorously avoiding the things that classical musicians spend years learning, like vibrato and elegant phrasing, instead embracing the jagged edge, riding the messy slide.

by Steve Reich Vermont Counterpoint has undergone countless arrangements and reinterpretations in the four decades since it was written. Claire Edwardes’ arrangement for vibraphone, xylophone and tape is a banger, literally, and a perfect showcase for this exuberant performer.

Plectoby Iannis Xenakis, is a favorite of the Offspring Ensemble, and they savor the collision of pitch and texture, rubbing against each other like a slow-motion car crash.

William Gardiner is another new voice nurtured by, among others, Ensemble Offspring’s Hatched Academy and the Australian premiere of the first movement of his Hebbian theory suggests that it is worth listening to. The ingredients here seemed relatively simple: a lingering, undulating line, punctuated by high-pitched tremolos and a thud of bass. But this does nothing to convey the space and spatial impact of the elements on each other. I can’t wait to hear the sequel.

Together Offspring's Time as a developer at Carriageworks.

Together Offspring’s Time as a developer at Carriageworks.Credit:

Ritmicas, by Pulitzer Prize-winning Cuban composer Tania León, draws on polyrhythmic patterns to create an expanding sonic universe backed by a bumpy, compelling groove. It’s a work that plays to the strengths of the Offspring Ensemble, such as when ad lib episodes not only give them the chance to break into virtuoso noodles, but also indulge their sense of theater, giving life to dazzling conversations in real time.

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A Cry for Lighting, by Roderick van Gelder. A side spotlight during Edwardes’ performance of Vermont Counterpoint cast a shadow on the opposite wall of another percussionist playing in perfect sync with the many recorded and live sounds filling the space from all directions. Magic.

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