Ensemble Offspring’s Kontiki Racket: Listen, Talk And Have Fun


“Kontiki Racket”. The name alone arouses curiosity. It’s what new music performers Ensemble Offspring have christened the mini-festival of concerts, talks and mingling this weekend, which will feature three concerts, five world premieres, a panel discussion with global music makers and an industry speed dating session offering one-on-one sessions with mentors.
Kontiki Racket showcases thirteen musicians including its composer training Hatched Academy artists, music by iconic composers Xenakis and Boulez, Romitelli and Mantovani.

Claire Edwardes, artistic director of Ensemble Offspring and her team have been in residence at Bundanon, the Boyd family’s artists’ retreat, preparing for this event. She says “The world premieres are a lot of work for us because it’s very time consuming to work on a brand new piece. But it’s also incredibly rewarding working directly with the composer on the work. There are two pieces by composers from Hatched Academy, which are very much about shimmering sound worlds and a really interesting use of time and colour. A new piece by Alex Pozniak which is in his typical style, very rhythmic and driving and rooted almost in pop or rock music. We’ve got a new piece by Lachlan Skipworth which is very densely textured minimal music with a track where the three live instruments parts are played backwards so it makes for a really ‘trippy’ musical experience.”

Despite its cutting edge nature, Edwardes still talks of what she plays as a classical music – but clarifies that it is ‘contemporary classical music’, its defining quality being that the musicians are classically trained and the music is from the classical tradition. She adds “ it’s classical music which doesn’t sound classical although technique supports the way we play and what we play; it’s written by composers in notation that has been used for centuries that is then played by an interpreter. So in that sense we’re definitely on the trajectory of the classical tradition, although it sounds different because rhythm and melody are used in a very different way by living composers today.”

Apart from the inventive nature of the music, Kontiki Racket will aim for a different listening ambience. Says Edwardes, “We really want to make it different to a traditional concert hall experience where the audience is sitting opposite the stage. We are aiming for a warehouse vibe where people can stand or sit on cushions, be comfortable and drink while they’re watching the concert and make it relaxed for people but still create a focussed listening experience. It’s still about the music and the absolute quality of the music but it’s meant to be a less stuffy atmosphere than your typical classical musical experience.”

“Each concert lasts around one hour with no interval and the opportunity to socialise in-between.” says Edwardes. “We want it to be a social atmosphere for people to talk about music, listen to music and have fun.”

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