Ruthless Jabiru to perform London tribute to Maralinga

Ruthless Jabiru is to perform with guest artist Lara St. John at the Union Chapel on 14 October, in a programme centred around Maralinga, a work for violin and string orchestra by Australian composer Matthew Hindson.

Hindson’s work will lay at the centre of a concert designed to pay tribute to the Maralinga story through music. Maralinga land in remote South Australia was used for undercover British nuclear testing in the 1950s and 60s, leaving the area heavy with radioactive waste and thousands of Indigenous people and servicemen affected, both British and Australian.

“I wanted to devise a programme connected with the Australian landscape, to complement the Australia exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts,” said conductor Kelly Lovelady, the orchestra’s founding Artistic Director. “Maralinga was inspired by a stretch of desert where one political decision has had tragic repercussions for health, community, and the environment. I’ve chosen a programme to evoke the loss and the chemical strangeness which has become a part of that landscape.”

Maralinga scholar Dr. Liz Tynan described a complex tragedy of secrets, spies, and international relations. “At Maralinga, part of our territory became the most highly contaminated land in the world. It’s time for Maralinga to become part of our national conversation, and the arts is a great medium to do this.”

Ruthless Jabiru will be joined by Canadian violinist Lara St. John, for whom Hindson wrote the solo violin part of Maralinga. St. John has been described as “something of a phenomenon” by The Strad and a “high-powered soloist” by The New York Times. She has performed as soloist with the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and with the Boston Pops, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Symphony, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Ireland, Amsterdam Symphony, Brazilian Symphony, Sao Paulo Symphony, China Philharmonic, Hong Kong Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, and the orchestras of Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland, among many others.

Ruthless Jabiru’s performance will also include the UK premieres of works by Australian composer Paul Stanhope and Dublin-based Linda Buckley, as well as cornerstones of the string orchestra repertoire by Arvo Pärt and Samuel Barber.

Ruthless Jabiru and Lara St. John perform Maralinga Lament at the Union Chapel, London at 19:30 on Monday 14 October. Tickets are £16 advance from the Union Chapel online store or £18 at the door. 

Ruthless Jabiru partners with Sound and Music for Portfolio composer opportunity

Ruthless Jabiru is pleased to announce a partnership with Sound and Music, the national agency for New music and sound art in the UK.

The orchestra will collaborate with Sound and Music on its Portfolio scheme, which provides a key development opportunity for emerging composers to create new work with and for some of the UK’s leading ensembles and presenters of new music.

Sound and Music are now accepting applications from UK-based composers for an opportunity to work with Ruthless Jabiru. Participating composers will develop their pieces in two workshops with the orchestra, with public premieres of the works to be given in 2014. The application deadline is noon on 23 July 2013.

Ruthless Jabiru receives Julian Baring Award

Ruthless Jabiru has been awarded the 2013 Julian Baring Award from the Tait Memorial Trust. The Tait Trust supports young Australian performing artists pursuing career development in the UK. The Trust was formed in 1992 in memory of Sir Frank and Viola, Lady Tait, and of the Tait brothers, who played an important role in the establishment of the performing arts in Australia. The Julian Baring Award honours the late husband of the Trust’s founding Chairman, Isla Baring OAM.

Review at Seen and Heard International “Ruthless Jabiru: A stimulating programme by London’s Australian orchestra”

The orchestra has received a very positive review of last week’s concert at the website Seen and Heard International. Critic Gavin Dixon commended the players, venue, conductor Kelly Lovelady, and the choice of programme; affirming the night as “a clear statement of intent” for the orchestra’s “very bright” future.

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.

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.

Leah Kardos to write Ruthless Jabiru’s first commission

Queensland composer and producer Leah Kardos is to write Ruthless Jabiru’s first commissioned work, for premiere in London in Spring 2013. Scored for string orchestra, the piece will explore Leah’s ideas of modern sensuality and sound, drawing from her experience as a studio composer. Leah has just released her second album, Machines, on the Bigo and Twigetti label.

Kelly Lovelady awarded New Work grant from Australia Council

Ruthless Jabiru is pleased to announce that its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Kelly Lovelady, has been awarded a New Work grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. The funding will support a major commission from the orchestra’s Patron, composer Peter Sculthorpe, which will be premiered by Ruthless Jabiru in London in late 2013. The Australia Council is the arts funding and advisory body of the Australian Government.

Ruthless Jabiru partners with Westpac

We are pleased to announce that Westpac, Australia’s longest established bank, is to be an Official Partner of Ruthless Jabiru from September 2012.

“It’s fantastic to have such a strong national identity as Westpac join forces with the orchestra,” said Ruthless Jabiru’s Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Kelly Lovelady. “Westpac is a household name for so many Australians, and it’s really encouraging that the bank’s passion for leadership and achievement also extends to an advocacy of the creative industries.”

Mark McGran, Expatriate Relationship Manager with Westpac London, said: “We are very pleased to be supporting Ruthless Jabiru as an all-Australian chamber orchestra.

“We’ve a proud history of not only assisting UK Migrants with their move to Australia and New Zealand, but also providing support for Australians who have based themselves here in the UK. We share a lot of common goals with Ruthless Jabiru, and look forward to connecting and inspiring the Expat community here in London.”

As Australia’s first bank, Westpac is Australia’s oldest company and one of the most reputable financial institutions. Established in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales, Westpac has had a presence in London since February 1853, making it the longest-serving foreign bank in the United Kingdom.

The Westpac London branch focus is on providing banking support for Expatriate Australians to ensure that their banking is well looked after whilst they are based away from home. For almost 160 years, Westpac has been providing banking solutions for UK migrants who are moving their lives to Australia or New Zealand, assisting in making the move as simple and easy as possible.

Review in Fortissimo! “Sculthorpe at the City of London Festival”

We’ve been mentioned in the Autumn 2011 issue of the Faber Music News publication, Fortissimo!, in a composer feature on Peter Sculthorpe. The article details Sculthorpe’s involvement with the 2011 City of London Festival, quoting a review of our performance by Andrew Morris of Classical Source.