Floods of Fire: an epic musical adventure


Fire floods has been in development for the past 12 months, with details announced today to coincide with World Inclusion Day. Audiences will get a preview of three of the resulting compositions at the ASO Festival of Orchestra later this year, ahead of a full-scale performance slated for 2022.

The project received funding from Arts SA and was designed with European director Airan Berg – who specializes in large-scale participatory projects – with the orchestra stating that thematically it focuses on “our environment and the impacts of climate change, arising from stories of floods and fires associated with creation, destruction and recreation ”.

The collaboration began last year with a workshop attended by more than 70 artists and community workers, including the six composers from South Australia hired by ASO, musicians and representatives from organizations such as Nexus Arts, Tutti Arts, Brink Productions, Open Music Academy, Elder Conservatoire, CFS and SES.

Brink’s artistic director, Chris Drummond, who stepped in as a facilitator alongside ASO and its community projects manager Elizabeth McCall when Berg was unable to return to Adelaide due to the pandemic, said that the first gathering was a “powerful and unifying” start to the project.

“For three hours, an extraordinary musical conversation unfolded between this community of artists representing many cultures and origins, all exploring personal responses to their various encounters with flood or fire.”

Disaster experiences shared by Fire floods Attendees range from ASO Associate Principal Trumpeter Martin Phillipson, who was among those forced to flee Mallacoota when the terrifying bushfires broke out in January 2020, to Japanese musician Noriko Tadano, whose relatives have had to evacuate their village after the massive tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

At the first major workshop, Jared Thomas of the SA Museum spoke about First Nations dream stories, the cleansing nature of fire and how it can be part of the ecosystem’s growth cycle.

“It was a chance for everyone to meet, see how big this project is and start making music together”, Julian Ferraretto, jazz violinist and one of the main composers of Fire floods, recount Review of the gathering. “We took some of these ideas into our composition, which began a few months later in small groups.”

He and the other composers – Hilary Kleinig, Adam Page, Luke Harold, Grayson Rotumah, Jakub Jankowski, Zhao Liang, and Belinda Gehlert – each worked with different musicians and community groups.

Music is that amazing way of telling a story… it communicates the whole experience of someone, often beyond words.

One of Ferraretto’s pieces was created in collaboration with the multi-arts organization SA Tutti Arts (which supports the work of artists with disabilities). On the other hand, he worked with the Open Music Academy of the Elder Conservatorium and a group of students from the Carlton School in Port Augusta, who were inspired by their memories of the 2016 floods that passed through the city. The students came to Adelaide for the first rehearsal of their piece, which was performed with the Adelaide Connection jazz choir and string players from the Elder Conservatory Orchestra.

“We want to be able to expand this piece so that we can involve community groups. And then the choral side can also be extended, ”says Ferraretto.

The diversity of actors in Fire floods The project is brought to light by the group of songwriters with whom he worked for his third composition: Sufi singer Farhan Shah, flamenco guitarist Alain Valodze and Iranian musician Iran Sanadzadeh, who plays a unique instrument created with planks that trigger different sounds when walked on.

“It’s quite magical,” says Ferraretto, when asked about the alchemy that results from meeting such diverse artists. “Working with musicians who know their instrument backwards and who have a really huge repertoire of cultural references, sounds and music, it’s amazing… we improvised a lot with this band but the music was quite distinctive.”

ASO tasked South Australian filmmakers Randy Larcombe and Suzi Ting to document Fire floods creative workshops:

Airan Berg clearly envisioned something epic when he came up with the concept of Fire floods, says Ferraretto, and the various composers and groups have interpreted the theme in very different ways.

“With the group from Port Augusta, we took a very literal memory of the floods in this area,” he explains of his own collaborations.

“With Tutti Arts, because we worked with the creative writing group, we wrote a lot of poetry together and we talked about the idea of ​​telling stories around a fire… so this piece is almost like a lot. different vignettes or movements, depending on the poems the music was based on. When we did the first rehearsal, it was really beautiful because each of the participants came and read their poem, then we played the music by his poem, and between each movement, I asked the orchestra to play this technique where they crack the bows against the strings and it sounds like a crackle of fire …

“With the Nexus Arts group, it was again a very different thing. We talked about the idea of ​​fire as a revival, so it starts off pretty furiously and then there’s a quieter section that’s kind of a post-fire lament and it ends like that triumphant regrowth and new energy coming out of it. the other side of it. “

Ferraretto is currently editing the piece co-written with students from the Open Music Academy and Carlton School, so it can be performed on an outdoor stage during the ASO Festival of Orchestra at the Adelaide Showground later this year. . He, and another Fire floods composition by Grayson Rotumah and Luke Harrald, will be performed at the festival Carmina Burana concert on November 27, while Singaporean composer Zhao Liang, who worked with Belinda Gehlert to create a suite of works telling the story of the phoenix, will participate in a workshop as part of the festival’s family program on December 5.

Other solo musicians involved in Fire floods include singer Barkindji Nancy Bates, Cuban trumpeter Lazaro Numa, oud player and singer Zuhir Naji, santur player Maryam Rahmani, multi-instrumentalist Bortier Okoe, erhu player David Dai and yidaki player Robert Thomas.

Elizabeth McCall of ASO says that although the orchestra has worked with different communities before, it never envisioned a scale-up project. Fire floods.

“Music is this amazing way of telling a story; it’s more than music, it communicates the whole experience of someone, often beyond words, so if we can get into people’s stories and help create that music, we really connect with them .

“It makes music contemporary; it brings it into the present. You can bring together different musicians from different backgrounds and achieve amazing musical results. “

Floods of fire, cconducted by Luke Dollman, will be performed in 2022. The ASO Festival of Orchestra, which will include the performance of several Floods of Fire works, will be held at the Adelaide Showground from November 24 to December 4.

Support local arts journalism

InReview is a revolutionary publication providing local and professional coverage of the arts in South Australia. Your tax-deductible donation will go directly to support this independent, not-for-profit journalism and art critic.

Donate here

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.


Comments are closed.