Curated and performed by each of our musicians, ANAM Recitals are the product of their hard work, dedication and training. With recitals kicking off this week we thought we’d catch up with ANAM Percussionist, Thea Rossen to get the inside scope on her upcoming performance.

What is the story behind the theme for your recital this year?

I am passionate about the role that the arts have to play in communicating the facts and ideas associated with climate change and connecting with people about what they can do to help or be involved. Climate change is the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced, and we can only tackle it together with a common understanding of the facts and what we stand to lose.

Sounds of the Reef – Music for our Changing Climate, presents a program of new and old works that reference political, scientific, emotional or spiritual responses to climate change. Through music I hope to open up a conversation about what everyday people can do to be involved in tackling climate change.

Can you explain the title of the recital?
Sounds of the Reef is the title work of the recital. The piece immerses the audience in an underwater sound world with recordings of coral reefs, while a cellist and percussionist transform the data from a graph of average annual temperatures into musical lines that continue to rise.

Sounds of the Reef was inspired by the work of American scientist and cellist Daniel Crawford who mapped rising global temperature data into musical notes. This piece brings the focus back to Australia with data from the Bureau of Meteorology measuring the rising ocean surface temperatures since 1900. Associate Professor McCauley at Curtin University WA specialises in bioacoustics and has contributed a number of underwater recordings of coral reefs in Australia for use in this work.

Tell us about the two new commissions for the recital.
Composer Nate May is based in Cincinnati US. We met at the So Percussion Summer Institute at Princeton University in 2015 and have been in touch about ideas for works since then. This June, May’s home state West Virginia was struck by a 1,000 year flood. He volunteered as a member of the clean-up effort and was deeply moved by the devastation left behind. His piece Below this Line is for musical saw (a hand saw that is bowed while being bent to manipulate the pitch, it is a folk instrument prevalent in Virginia) and electronics and refers to the destruction left below the flood line and the increased natural disasters caused by global warming.

The Settled Science by Perth based composer Tim Newhouse is for vibraphone, woodblocks. The piece features samples of a speech by Attorney General George Brandis in Parliament discussing his opinion on the ‘settled science’ of climate change. The work is a satirical take on the decisions to cut the funding to climate scientists by the Liberal Government since 2014.

What is the future for this project?
I hope to begin conversations with composers and musicians globally to create a set of works in response to climate change. I am particularly interested in collaborations between scientists and musicians and will be focusing on this in 2017.

The project is designed to connect and engage people on this topic which is difficult to talk about because of its importance and magnitude.


ROSSEN Sounds of the Reef (world premiere)
MAY Below This Line (world permiere)
XENAKIS Dmaathen

NEWHOUSE The Settled Science (world premiere)
RZEWSKI To The Earth 

Thea Rossen (WA) percussion
Ben Opie
Samuel Payne (NSW) cello

Venue ANAM, South Melbourne Town Hall
Tickets $5 (Free for ANAMates members)
Bookings anam.com.au 03 9645 7911

ANAM September Recital Season runs from Tuesday 6 September – Friday 16 September 2016

Feature artwork by Angela Rossen


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