Composer Leah Blankendaal discusses the Adelaide-based new music ensemble’s upcoming concert featuring Allison Bell.

How do we communicate across generational gaps? How does a wife talk to the much younger lover of her husband? How does a parent talk to an unborn child? What sense can we make of infants first sounds, as they begin to acquire language and phonemes?

Language – its barriers, structures and development – is the subject of the day in Adelaide-based Soundstream Ensemble’s upcoming concert Either/Or. As one of the commissioned composers in this upcoming concert, it is both a continual thrill and a challenge for me to play with language and sound in this fashion. Working with dueling worlds of sound and finding common ground between these two methods of conversation is a consistent source of pleasure.

Allison Bell Soprano Allison Bell. Photo © Felipe Pagani

The sound world of Irish composer Gerald Barry is the feature of this one-off performance. Barry’s music is at once both angular and absurd. Yet, for the most part, it is easily comprehendible. It remains within the boundaries of 12 tones and features traditional structures like the canon and the...