Melody Eötvös’s Tardigradus –for flute/piccolo, percussion and electronics – takes its name from the tardigrade (sometimes known as a water bear or moss piglet) a resilient, microscopic creature that can survive in conditions that would be fatal to nearly all other known life forms, including the vacuum of space. The world premiere of this work forms the centrepiece of Ensemble Offspring’s Arc Electricprogramme, which kicks off their year celebrating female composers, appropriately, at the Sydney Opera House’s All About Women festival.

The resilient, microscopic tardigrade inspired Melody Eötvös’  Tardigradus

A rattling sound cascades out of the speakers as EO’s Artistic Director and percussionist Claire Edwardes strikes chromatically tuned rice bowls arranged on a pink and blue ironing board – the hauntingly dulled chiming reminiscent of dampened Tibetan singing bowls. Lamorna Nightingale traces improvisatory lines on flute as a sepulchral throbbing emerges from the electronic track. Warbling trimbral trills from Nightingale are echoed in Edwardes’ rice bowl tremolos, the restive, uneasy soundtrack painting a surreal image of a creature that can survive without food or water for more than 30 years.

Arc Electricopens with Velvet, a shimmering work by Kate Moore...