‘A deeply moving, almost spiritual experience.’
Imagine a world where you have no voice. That is the world for many in contemporary Australia who are silenced legally, politically or culturally.
Speechless – a powerful new opera by award-winning composer Cat Hope – is a personal response to the 2014 Human Rights Commission report ‘The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention’. Through a vocal language beyond words, Speechless is a channel for Hope to come to terms with the terrible things she sees perpetrated in her name by those in positions of power.
Speechless features one of Australia’s finest interpreters of contemporary vocal repertoire Judith Dodsworth, lead singer of the Australian heavy metal powerhouse High Tension Karina Utomo, one of Australia’s most distinctive voices in Iranian-born Tara Tiba, West Australian experimental vocalist Sage Pbbbt and award-winning visual artist and post-punk drummer Tina Havelock Stevens with a combined community choir of 30 voices, the Australian Bass Orchestra and Decibel new music ensemble.
While following the structure of conventional opera, Speechless’ unique score is derived from drawings and graphics extracted from the Report and performed using networked iPads. This World Premiere season is designed specifically for the new Sunset Heritage Arts Precinct.
Leave what you know about opera at the door and immerse yourself in a compelling, courageous and visceral sonic world.
A Perth Festival Co-Commission
Produced by Tura New Music
Images: Paul Tadday
Duration: 70 minutes
Warning: Contains loud sounds
Sat 2 Mar 9.10pm
Composer & Director Cat Hope
Soloists Judith Dodsworth, Karina Utomo, Tara Tiba, Sage Pbbbt
With The Australian Bass Orchestra and Decibel New Music Ensemble
Musical Director Aaron Wyatt
Sound Designer Guy Smith
Lighting Designer Matt Adey
Lighting Design realised by Andre Vanderwert
Assistant Director Rakini Devi
Production Partners Perth Festival, Monash University
Production Manager Guy Smith
Producer Annalisa Oxenburgh (for Tura New Music)
Tura New Music
Tos Mahoney Artistic Director
Annalisa Oxenburgh Executive Director
Tristen Parr Artistic Program Manager
Liesbeth Goedhart Development
Anna Sparkes Marketing, Communications & Program Coordinator
Josten Myburgh iMprov Coordinator
Jameson Feakes Archive
Cat Hope is a composer, sound artist, performer, songwriter and noise artist. She is a classically trained flautist, self-taught vocalist, experimental bassist and is the director of Decibel new music ensemble. She won the Award for Excellence in Experimental Music at the APRA AMC Art Awards In 2011 and 2014, and the People’s Choice award for her organ concerto Black Emperor in the International Space Time Concerto competition in 2011. She is a Churchill and Civitella Ranieri Fellow, and has been in pop bands (Gata Negra, Quartered Shadows, Mice Vice), noise groups (Abe Sada, Candied Limbs, HzHzHz) as well as new music and orchestral groups. She has directed dance/music collaborations (the Velvet Palace, 1999) and curated new music programs. Hope is currently Professor and head of school at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University.
Judith Dodsworth has come to be regarded as one of Australia’s finest interpreters of contemporary vocal repertoire. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian National Academy Of Music she has a Masters degree in performance from the University Of Melbourne and has studied in Vienna and London, including with legendary new music soprano Jane Manning.
Indonesian born Karina Utomo is the vocalist for Australian metal band High Tension, with members Matt Weston (The Sage Pbbbt Nation Blue), Lauren Hammel (Tropical F* Storm) and Mike Deslandes (YLVA). High Tension’s critically acclaimed releases have been nominated for ARIA and AIR awards for ‘Best Heavy Album’ and received The Age Music Victoria award. High Tension has toured with Refused, Sick Of It All, The Bronx and performed at Laneway, Splendour in the Grass, Download and Dark Mofo festivals. Utomo is a regular fill-in host on Triple J’s metal program ‘The Racket’ and hosts a regular monthly segment.
Sage Pbbbt’s singing practice takes inspiration from Tuvan and Mongolian overtone singing, Inuit throat singing, sound poetry and her ongoing exploration of extra-normal vocal techniques. She also draws on industrial musick, trance, and drone; insight meditation practice, urban/industrial shamanism and chaos magick; feminist, queer and trans praxis; and Discordianism. She has performed both as a soloist and in various bands and collaborations for over 17 years in Australia and the UK and has presented conference papers in Glasgow, London and Melbourne.
Tara Tiba is one of Australia’s most distinctive and significant musical voices. Born in Iran and based in Perth, Western Australia, Tara has been acclaimed as an expatriate trailblazer for her extraordinary voice and repertoire that fuses traditional Persian singing with Western Jazz, Latin, Flamenco, Fado, New World folk and experimental contemporary music. Tara released her debut album, A Persian Dream, in 2012. Tara has toured extensively internationally and performed at the 2016 Perth Festival opening event, Home.
The Australian Bass Orchestra
The Australian Bass Orchestra, featured in the opera, are a group that come together to play music where the range never goes above middle C. Membership is open to any instrument, as long as it has the capacity to play in this range. Cat Hope formed the group in 2014 and since then it has played at the Now Now Festival in Sydney and at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Specialising in graphic and text scores enables members of the orchestra to come from any kind of music genre. Using the Australian Bass Orchestra in this work provides a visceral, physical experience of the sound, a characteristic of low frequency sound.
Tura New Music
Now in its 30th year as a producer and advocate of new music and sonic art, Tura New Music is a multi award-winning Australian organisation, paving the way for exceptional and curious encounters with unique sound worlds. With their expansive range of city-based and regional programs, Tura work with both high profile and emerging artists to ignite the disruptor in music through artistic risk and discovery. They are not about the conventional or the expected, but rather what can be born from nurturing daring and embracing boldness.
Through their diverse programs, Tura provide an arena for the constant development of globally significant artworks that reflect Australia’s unique energy, diversity, place and time. In doing this they create a pipeline for Australian new music and champion the artistic rigour that follows on from experimentation.
Speechless is supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, in association with Lotterywest and The Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding advisory body.
Proudly supported by Monash University.
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