Skip to main content

Your free what's on guide to the NT

Sounds of the Red Centre

WHAT SOUNDS COME to mind when you think of this place? This place that is so sensory rich, so vibrant and grandeur. Thunder through the summer, cicadas, the whoosh of a dusty willy willy in September, galahs or budgies. The Red Centre bursts with sound.

By Hannah Muir

The Alice Springs World Chamber Orchestra (ASWCO) are regulars with immersing themselves in the Central Australian landscape, having not only looked upon it as a source of inspiration, but regularly performing amongst it. Audiences have been treated to shows with striking backdrops at locations such as Emily Gap and Trephina Gorge.

Three years ago, ASWCO Artistic Director and Conductor Markus Kuchenbuch commissioned contemporary classical top composer Elena Kays-Chernin to create a work inspired by Alice Springs and its surrounds, without having ever visited.

The piece explores her “anticipation of experiencing this magical mystical place in real life, imagining what emotion might overwhelm when it happens, and trying to pre-capture that response musically,” she says.

The orchestra are long time fans of Chernin’s work, having played many of her pieces over the years. When Markus had a chance meeting with her at the 2019 Bermagui Four Winds Festival, he took the opportunity to strike up a conversation.

“We got talking, I told her we loved her music,” he said.

“She said she had never been to Alice. And I said, ‘well I can change that’”.

From there, the idea grew. Many discussions between Markus and Elena took place over time, with Markus introducing her to the elements of Central Australia. Sunrise, sunsets and budgies were of particular interest to her. After a lot of toing and froing, and many avenues explored, eventually, Markus could feel and hear the Red Centre in her work.

“[The piece has] heat, dryness, it’s red, it’s unpredictable. It’s quiet in parts. It works a lot with dynamics, it’s soft and strong.”

Elena is set to spend five days in Mparntwe leading up to the concert working with the orchestra, adapting the piece as needed.

“She’s incredible,” Markus says.

“She’s such a fast composer. She has given us something, but during those five days it could all change. We are all flexible”.

Fans of Elena Kays-Cherin work can expect to recognise the key elements that create her style while enjoying the flexibility of this particular project in the form of improvisation, which the piece holds space for.

The ASWCO hosts Elena in Red at Araluen Arts Centre with the premiere of Red Centre by Elena Kays-Cherin. The evening also premieres Alice Springs avant-garde composer and violinist, Jon Rose, with his piece Bullen Road.

Both composers will be present on the night, so don’t miss your chance to experience the magical soundscapes of the Red Centre.

Elena in Red with Alice Springs World Chamber Orchestra
WHEN FRI 13 MAY | 7.30PM
COST $39 | $25 STUD

Thumbnail, header & inset: Photo: Oliver Eclipse

More reads

Advertisement: Darwin Fringe 2024