Welcome back to the Australian Art Music playlist for 2022! A monthly playlist of classical, jazz, experimental and electronic music focused on contemporary Australian composers, musicians and sound artists.

Australian Art Music
Image credits, clockwise from top left: Kristin Bernardi and Sam Anning, Clocked Out Duo, HD Duo © Keith Saunders, Anthony Albrecht and Simone Slattery © ABC/Tiger Webb.

I’ve often considered chamber music as where some of the most exciting innovations in the Australian art music scene take place, and I’d like to some time this month to explore duos and duets in the repertoire.

While streaming is a great way to discover new music – attending gigs, or purchasing albums or merch is an even better way to support the artists you love – we’ve even set up a Merch Table to get you started! Don’t forget to check out the artists’ websites for more details and other ways to support.

Duos are really interesting studies in texture, silence, expression and the communication between players. In the opening works of this month’s list, we hear three completely different examples for voice and solo string (double bass or cello), each focusing on a different type of expression.

He Was a Loaded Gun by Kristin Berardi and Sam Anning rests on the solid bass ostinatos for structure, employing vocal layers and poignant silence to incredible effect. In contrast Moon on Fire’s So Loud moves much more quickly between textures and expressive techniques creating an undulating and driving work that has a huge impact when it hits its unison ending.

Ross Edwards’ Maninya I is a classic work in the Australian repertoire. Across its three sections Jenny Duck-Chong and Geoffrey Gartner exhibit both incredibly spacious textures (masterfully fading in and out of silence), as busier sections sailing on a wave of impetus created by both performers.

Taking advantage of the gamut of sounds available to percussion, Stars by Elissa Goodrich features a novel duet of kalimba and drum kit – Daniel Farrugia’s use of brushes is especially welcome too and creates a varied space for the kalimba to play in.

In a similar vein, Bottles to bottles by Clocked Out Duo mixes hard melodic and rhythmic attacks with broader washes of sounds to create a wonderful almost mechanical pattern in their percussion and prepared piano duo.

The mechanistic theme continues with Louise Denson’s Mill Life. The Viney-Grinberg Duo captures both the rough grinding of the mill and ecstatic grooves and rhythms. It is a mesmerising listening experience, and I would personally love to see this choreographed one day.

In addition to works listed above, there is an incredible amount music for different instruments. There’s saxophone and flute works by Matthew Hindson, Anne Boyd and Russell Gilmour, and string writing by Ben Northey, Chris Williams and Nicole Murphy, among work for guitar, harp, piano and synthesiser. Let us know what your favourite piece was!

I hope you enjoy this month’s selection of music on the Aussie Art Music playlist – it’s fun to see different performers interact and collaborate in such an intimate setting. But, if you’re looking for more to listen to (including works for larger forces), the full Australian Art Music Archive has also been updated on Spotify (now with over 87 hours of music to discover!).

Join me next month for the violin’s moment in the spotlight.

Australian Art Music Playlist

Curated by Cameron Lam

Tracklist

He Was a Loaded Gun by Kristin Bernardi & Sam Anning
La Tessitrice by Aristea Mellos | performed by Helen Zhibing Huang & Ada Arumeh Kim Lowery
So Loud by Moon on Fire (Helen Svoboda & Selma Juudit Alessandra)
Maninya I by Ross Edwards | performed by Halcyon (Jenny Duck-Chong & Geoffrey Gartner)
Night Air by The Nano Symphony (Neil Thompson & Catherine Thompson)
A Little Feather on the Breath of God by Anne Boyd | performed by Lamorna Nightingale & Jocelyn Fazzone
Stars by Elissa Goodrich | performed by Elissa Goodrich & Daniel Farrugia
Duo-Generare by Peter McNamara | performed by Duo Blockstix (Alicia Crossley & Joshua Hill)
Song without Words by Jane Hammond | performed by Peter Sheridan & Gary Schocker
Surface by Nicole Murphy | performed by Dawn Bennett & Diana Blom
Bird Portraits: No 23, Puffins by Edward Cowie | performed by Peter Sheppard Skærved & Roderick Chadwick
Ode by Lachlan Skipworth | performed by Emily Green-Armytage & Rebecca Chan
The Beauty of Now (for violin & pianoforte) by Caerwen Martin | performed by Aaron Barnden & Peter Doomsday
Bottles to bottles by Clocked Out (Erik Griswold & Vanessa Tomlinson)
bird, songs, seas by Chris Williams | performed by Simone Slattery & Anthony Albrecht
Button & Pocket by Benjamin Northey | performed by Slava Grigoryan & Leonard Grigoryan
Eleven Duos: VII by Russell Gilmour | performed by Jabra Latham & Benjamin Price
Mill Life by Louise Denson | performed by Viney-Grinberg Duo (Anna Grinberg & Liam Viney)
Repetepetition by Matthew Hindson | performed by HD Duo  (Michael Duke & David Howie)
I Surrender by Andrea Keller | performed by Marshall McGuire & Genevieve Lacey

Want to recommend music for future playlists? Tag #AussieArtMusic on Twitter or Cameron Lam on Facebook or TwitterFor previously featured music and merch visit the Australian Art Music archive and archive Merch Table.

Want to pitch your own music or let me know about your label’s latest releases? Feel free to email me at
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