Ruthless Jabiru and Decibel together in concert for one night only

London chamber orchestra Ruthless Jabiru welcomes into its fold fellow Australian musicians Decibel New Music Ensemble for a massed finale to the latter’s forthcoming UK tour.

The two ensembles will unite for a programme of graphic-, text- and traditionally-notated music performed by an orchestra of entirely low instruments. The event will take place in the unique subaquatic surrounds of the Grand Entrance Hall at the Brunel Museum on 02 December 2022 as part of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22.

The musical selection will be focussed around the world premiere of Never at Sea, a quasi-concerto by Decibel’s Artistic Director Cat Hope with the composer herself as electric noise bass soloist. This will be complemented by further works for bass orchestra by Tansy Davies, Kaija Saariaho, Pedro Alvarez, Lindsay Vickery and Julius Eastman. The programme will be conducted by Ruthless Jabiru’s Artistic Director: Australian conductor, curator and cultural activist Kelly Lovelady; with a cameo by Decibel’s resident violist, Noongar conductor Aaron Wyatt.

“Having Decibel join with Ruthless Jabiru to create an orchestra of low instruments is a dream come true!” said Hope. “My work Never at Sea embraces the power of this combination to sonify the sensation of being consumed by water—as body in the sea, rising up on land, filling up our dreams.”

Co-devised by Kelly Lovelady and Cat Hope and titled The Holy Presence of, the project and programme will explore ideas of oppression and futility borne of the inescapability of climate change: specifically, the effect of rising sea levels and proposed decommissioning on the Welsh coastal town of Fairbourne.

Following heavy storms and tidal surges in 2014, Gwynedd County Council controversially announced it would no longer repair Fairbourne’s flood defences indefinitely and with the projected rise in sea levels, the village will no longer be inhabitable from 2054. At this point all Fairbourne’s homes, roads, shops and infrastructure will be dismantled and the area reverted to marshland. 

Forecast to be the UK’s first climate refugees, Fairbourne’s 700+ residents reject the decision that their village “isn’t worth saving”, with many initially skeptical of the climate modelling that led to its condemnation. The county’s announcement immediately decimated property values, financing and insurance options for its community; and severely affected hospitality and tourism, with local councillor and activist Stuart Eves describing the situation as “lives destroyed on a supposition”.

“I think our musical programme will tell a really compelling story of the complex impact of climate crisis on Fairbourne: a situation mirrored in countless other coastal locations around the world,” said Lovelady. “I’m so happy to have this opportunity to collaborate with my old friends from Perth here in London. I really hope this will be a mutually inspiring project for both ensembles; and a catalyst for our audience to reconsider their own values, footprint and social agency in the face of climate emergency.”

Decibel New Music Ensemble is a 6-piece collective focusing on the integration of acoustic and electronic instruments in chamber music performance. Decibel are world-leading interpreters of graphic notations and pioneer digital score formats for composition and performance including the Decibel ScorePlayer App for iPad, enabling coordinated performance of graphic notations.

Ruthless Jabiru is a chamber orchestra of professional Australian musicians in the UK merging contemporary music and Activism in an effort to promote compassion, sustainability and social consciousness. Under the leadership of its founding Artistic Director Kelly Lovelady, Ruthless Jabiru delivers curated performance events themed around humanitarian, sustainability and social justice stories in collaboration with the UK campaigning sector.

The Grand Entrance Hall, Brunel Museum is the former entrance shaft to the historic Thames Tunnel: the world’s first ever underwater passage and first of many projects by engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Now a Grade II* listed structure, the tunnel was originally designed for horse-drawn carriages between Rotherhithe and Wapping but on opening in 1843, became the world’s most popular pedestrian visitor attraction, with foot traffic of over a million in its first three months alone.

The UK/Australia Season is a major new cultural exchange celebrating the diverse and innovative artist communities and cultural sectors of each nation. A collaboration between the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Season is a vibrant programme spanning theatre, film, visual arts, dance, design, architecture, music, literature, higher education and a public engagement programme.


“Adventurous, inquisitive, challenging. Decibel honour and sabotage modernist traditions.”


“[Cat Hope is] one of Australia’s most exciting and individual creative voices.”


“Kelly Lovelady conducted with masterful sensitivity throughout … [her] carefully considered programming makes abundant conceptual sense. [Ruthless Jabiru’s Silk Moth] was one of the most remarkable musical experiences of my year … demanding that we look and listen. A sincere and sensitive exploration of ethnicity, domesticity and violence.


“Utterly captivating … [Ruthless Jabiru’s Silk Moth] was a daring and powerful theatrical evening which lasted less than an hour, but whose emotion will resonate for far longer.”

The Holy Presence of

Grand Entrance Hall, Brunel Museum
Railway Avenue, London, SE16 4L
(⦵ Rotherhithe)
19:00, 02 December 2022
Link to buy tickets


Kaija Saariaho Neiges
Lindsay Vickery Bascule EUROPEAN PREMIERE
Tansy Davies Feather and Groove 
Pedro Alvarez Intersperso-Ultradiano EUROPEAN PREMIERE
Julius Eastman The Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc
Cat Hope Never at Sea WORLD PREMIERE


Decibel New Music Ensemble
Ruthless Jabiru
Cat Hope electric bass
Kelly Lovelady conductor
Aaron Wyatt conductor

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