A Cunning Blog

Long words. Short words. Words that say something.

The eyes have it #3


Part 3 of my follow up to ‘Music to the Eyes’ in Spectrum at the weekend.

I’ve quoted Tim Calnin of the Australian Chamber Orchestra talking about the use of big screens to visually amplify an intimate performance in a large hall. But that is just one element of the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s interest in Music + visuals style concerts. Like Rory Jeffes, he’s interested in an emerging genre of performance pieces which integrate music and vision to commentate, amplify, enhance the work, either as an add on (a la Bill Viola’s Tristan and Isolde) or from word go.

The ACO have been moving towards this with their Musica Surfica series. I have been known to suggest that this is the jammiest gig of all times – getting paid to surf and play music, two things which Richard Tognetti loves beyond all else. However, he has a serious aesthetic purpose, which is becoming more evident as the years go by. Over to Tim Calnin:

In the past we’ve done Luminous – the project Richard developed with Bill Henson – was a musical commentary on the photographic images. Similarly, with The Glide, it was a musical response to the images. What we’re doing this year is commissioning music and film  at the same time for The Reef. The work is taking place in May and June. Richard and Iain Grandage and a group of musicians and cinematographer, film director, camera crew, surfers are all going up to the Northern Coast of Western Australia. It’s going to be more like feature film length with a substantial amount of original music in there, augmented by some existing music from the ACO repertoire. That to me is a good way of trying to take the concept a bit further.

Calnin cites an example outside of ACO’s work which has caught his imagination.

Michael van der Aa is a relatively young Dutch composer who has integrated visuals into his scores. They’re properly integrated, so it’s not an add on. It’s not dressing up a purely musical experience. This is a visual dimension to the whole concept of the piece. I found it quite striking, in the sense of opening up this genre in a way I hadn’t previously imagined or thought about. There’s a fully produced film, the whole piece is about 30’ long. There’s a live performance with a solo cellist and a film that runs simultaneously.  I spoke to Richard about it because it is something that would be very interesting to look at doing, but also to be inspired by the development of this kind of form.

Final instalment, I promise, tomorrow…


  1. A terrific series of posts thank you. Mr. Jeffes considered attitude is quite reassuring. If you haven’t seen it, this may be of interest, with lots of hyperlinks in there too.

  2. Yes, it is a brilliant post, and I tried (and failed) to track down Pliable to acknowledge him/her, because that was how I got onto the Westwater site etc. You don’t know who Pliable is, do you?

  3. This post finishes with facebook, twitter and email details if that helps. He’s a him, an ex EMI him.

    Did you see the post with the comments re Naxos music library via the TSO?

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