Welcome to the Australian Art Music playlist! A monthly playlist of Classical, Jazz, Experimental & Electronic music focused on contemporary Australian composers, musicians and sound artists. 

Every time I return to new releases I’m always heartened by the sheer gamut of music. This month we have orchestral masterpieces, electronic wonders, intimate chamber music, and those that blur the lines beautifully.

Australian Art Music playlist March 2022
Clockwise from top left: Katia Beaugeais, photo © Bridget Elliot; Alex Raineri; Lachlan Skipworth; Slava and Sharon Grigoryan, photo © John Krüger.

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 link below to get you started! Don’t forget to check out the artists’ websites for more details and other ways to support.

Visit the Merch Table for this month’s playlist.

Perth-based composer, sound artist and vocalist Rachael Dease opens our playlist this month, blurring the lines between contemporary songwriting, theatrical soundscape and art music in her latest release I Am Here. Sia Ahmad’s Breather Loop One picks up this focus on movement and ambience and creates a meditative space to really hone the audience’s ear – headphones are recommended for this one.

Every time Fuglar himins by Rosalind Page starts playing I’m convinced there’s a singer, but instead it the expressive and virtuosic playing of saxophonist (and composer) Katia Beaugeais. Page expertly uses the piano just enough to frame the saxophone without detracting from it’s long and expansive lines.

Another work that demands headphones is the astoundingly immersive Superclusters, Pt. II by Bree van Reyk. Van Reyk has featured on this playlist multiple times, and has demonstrated her ability to weave intricate and vibrant webs of sound into a space. This track is a playground of colour, rhythmic impetuous, and ever-moving texture.

Luke Carbon and Alex Raineri tackle Elliott Gyger’s Liquid Crystal on their latest album of the same name. It is a demanding work but Carbon and Raineri’s connection and energy bring out the playfulness in Gyger’s music. A shocking (but fun) juxtaposition is Robert Davidson’s electronic work Spin, a looping piece that captures and highlights the percussive nature of the piano and electronics.

Another new piano work is Lachlan Skipworth’s Shingetsu, performed by New Zealand pianist Liam Wooding. Wooding’s phrasing and smoothness of touch, really engender a sense of breath into the work, a common thread in much of Skipworth’s output. Breath also seems to be key in Anne Cawrse’s new duet for Sharon and Slava Grigoryan, Grounded. This work feels like a dance between two equal partners, ducking weaving between each other’s lines in perfect balance.

Zela Margossian’s Refuge shares this sinuous quality, the rise and fall of the various layers within the quintet give way to new melodic ideas, and grooves constantly but Margossian’s music voice draws them together into a contiguous, smooth, unified work. Resting With Angels is also a work that evolves. Written by Ella Macens and performed by Sydney-based Ensemble Apex, the piece is a meditation on the music of Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks, whom Macens shares her cultural heritage with. She intends for it to instill the sensation of light conquering darkness, and I believe she succeeds, while showcasing her mastery of string writing.

I hope some pieces caught your ear on the Aussie Art Music playlist this month – don’t forget to see if there are launch concerts to attend or albums to buy for these new releases. But, if you’re looking for more to listen to (including some older releases), the full Australian Art Music Archive has also been updated on Spotify (now with over 90 hours of music to discover!).

Australian Art Music Playlist

Curated by Cameron Lam

Tracklist

Am I Here by Rachael Dease
Breather Loop One by Sia Ahmad | performed by Shoeb Ahmad
Fuglar himins (Birds of Heaven) by Rosalind Page | performed by Katia Beaugeais & Phillip Shovk
bird, songs, seas by Chris Williams | performed by HIP Company, Sarah Papadopoulos & Krista Low
Djana by Brenda Gifford | performed by Ensemble Offspring
Ophelia…A Haunted Sonata by Phillip Houghton | performed by Thomas Viloteau
Superclusters, Pt. II by Bree van Reyk | performed by Bree van Reyk, Mick Turner, Veronique Serret & Evan Mannell
Liquid Crystal by Elliott Gyger | performed by Luke Carbon & Alex Raineri
Spin by Robert Davidson
II by Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling & Andreas Werliin
Symptoms of Our Age by Ben Carey, Novak Manojlovic & Tully Ryan | performed by Jeremy Rose, Novak Manojlovic, Ben Carey & Tully Ryan
Refuge by Zela Margossian | performed by Zela Margossian Quintet
Grounded by Anne Cawrse | performed by Sharon Grigoryan; Slava Grigoryan
Sound II by Jack Prest | performed by Jack Prest, Ben Freeman, Claire Edwardes, Jason Noble & Freya Schack-Arnott
Fire Dances: III. Crowning Dance by Natalie Williams | performed by Muses Trio
Lumen Prime Aurore by Mary Finsterer | performed by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Northey
Shingetsu by Lachlan Skipworth | performed by Liam Wooding
Liena by Sally Greenaway | performed by Emily Granger
Resting with Angels by Ella Macens | performed by Ensemble Apex
Symphony No 3, Mater Magna: III. Con moto by Ross Edwards | performed by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Markus Stenz 

Want to pitch your own music or let me know about your label’s latest releases? Feel free to email me at aussieartmusic@gmail.com. For previously featured music and merch visit the Australian Art Music archive and archive Merch Table.

 

Sign up to the free Limelight newsletter