Ruthless Jabiru – a new Australian orchestra

Originally posted at Noted:

Kelly Lovelady is the principal conductor of the UK-based Australian orchestra Ruthless Jabiru. Kelly and I went to university together. She’s all grown up now – I guess it happens to all of us! – and looking glamorous. Heck, she’s even met the Queen!

It’s so inspiring to see what my colleagues have achieved since those early morning scales classes and cheap refectory coffee. Kelly is based in the UK along with loads of other Aussie musicians. In 2011 Kelly mustered a group of expats to form Ruthless Jabiru, named after the Australian stork. They are already making a name for themselves, and this year (according to the critic from Musical Pointers) the orchestra was the highlight of the City of London Festival…

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Guest blog by Leah Kardos “Kick”

It’s been almost a year since Kelly first spoke to me about writing a piece for her orchestra, Ruthless Jabiru. The name of the piece, Kick, comes from a short double bass motif occurring throughout that reminds me of an impact or involuntary motion.

In commissioning the work, Kelly really gave me scope to do whatever I wanted but we did discuss initial concepts – we liked the idea of pinching some stylistic ideas taken from the world of record production – in my 2011 album Feather Hammer, I was focusing on timbre, texture and the ambience as much (if not more so) than the notes and harmonies – we talked about using some of the sound world ideas from Feather Hammer to see if any could be translated to score for string orchestra.

Those original concepts provided the starting point for Kick, which quickly took on a character of its own as it grew: after the opening slides into view from a unison D, there is a shimmering tremolo that transforms into a gentle but nervous energy of changing harmonies. Slow, angular melodies cascade between violins and cellos as it grows in momentum, getting ‘itchier’ as it goes. The nervous energy gathers up into a high register tremble, dissipating against a low drone on D. From the stillness, a single viola and violin tease and converse using a pentatonic scale, while the ensemble swells around them. Angular melodies return in the violins. The music climaxes with a loud trembling tutti, ducking against more violent kicks from the basses. The energy loosens and subsides, all voices sliding back into line with a unison D.

In its final version, and especially in the latter half, Kick is a warm and emotive meditation on simple figures relating to major triads and pentatonic scales. Somehow these musical elements feel very human to me; a sense of naïveté and tenderness. It makes me imagine the sound of prayer; the repeated melody of “mi re do” can feel like saying the words “I love you” over and over again and stroking the face of someone you love.

In the context of producing records, I have always enjoyed using technology to manipulate and position notes in unusual spaces – transforming them into ghosts or shadows using reverbs and delays and fancy mic techniques, or making the tiny sounds gigantic through creative EQ filters, compression and distortion. Whilst what Kick became isn’t really about such ‘tricks’, this way of thinking about music and sound has soaked through, inevitably because that’s the way my mind works these days.

Born and educated in Queensland, Leah Kardos is a composer and producer working in Bedford, UK. Leah makes eclectic music that combines live instrumental performance with technology, location recordings and found sounds. She is fascinated by the communicative power of timbre, the manipulations of psychoacoustic phenomena, memory and pattern recognition, and the ways in which music connects to life.

Electronics with Ruthless Jabiru

Originally posted at Miltonline:

On May 9th, I’ll be playing with the fab (almost) all-Australian Orchestra Ruthless Jabiru under the directorship and baton of Kelly Lovelady.

I’ll be performing live electronics with the 18-piece ensemble, for Brett Dean’s fabulous Carlo. Which interweaves multiple fragments of renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo’s vocal works (of which I am great admirer) among the live orchestral passages. Originally written for sampler and CD, I’m reworking the electronics for Ableton Live to be triggered via Launchpad (assuming my Push won’t reach me by then). It’s quite a tricky score and electronic fiddle but potentially very powerful…

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All Australian chamber orchestra to perform at Australia House

Originally posted at The Australian Times:

ESTABLISHED in 2011, Ruthless Jabiru is comprised entirely of professional Australian musicians based in the UK. Held under the official patronage of Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe, the orchestra is committed to showcasing the best of Australia’s expatriate musical talent.

Tipped to become a forerunner in the city’s chamber orchestral scene, Ruthless Jabiru has received recognition from international programmers, producers, arts industry executives, Australian diplomats, and the cultural remit of Buckingham Palace.

West Australian Kelly Lovelady, the company’s Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, is passionate about Ruthless Jabiru’s potential to succeed in the UK orchestral industry…

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Government of Western Australia to host Ruthless Jabiru in concert

The Government of Western Australia’s European Office will host a concert performance by Ruthless Jabiru at Australia House, London, on 9 May 2013.

“There is a significant number of West Australian musicians living and working in the UK,” said the Agent-General for Western Australia, Kevin Skipworth. “London is a magnet for musical talent, so our musicians are operating in a very competitive market. I am always amazed at their passion and willingness to put in the hard yards to break into the industry. Having an all-Australian chamber orchestra in the UK is a fantastic initiative.”

Ruthless Jabiru’s Artistic Director, Kelly Lovelady, spoke of bringing together the UK’s Australian musicians. “There’s an extraordinary amount of artistry and expertise amassed, and with so much common ground between us, it’s a great foundation for an ensemble.

“The Australian High Commission has been so supportive of the orchestra’s development. It will be a real honour to have the chance to present this event in partnership with the Government of Western Australia, my home state.”

Ruthless Jabiru will perform works for string orchestra by Australian and American composers: Brett Dean Carlo, John Adams Shaker Loops, and the world premiere of the orchestra’s first commission, by Australian composer and producer Leah Kardos. Ticketing information is available at this link.