Since graduating from ANAM last year, alumna Thea Rossen has been busy with projects and music making – including a residency at the Banff Centre in Canada, a period of creative development in Castlemaine for the State Festival and not to mention establishing a new ensemble, the Ad Lib Collective.
Reflecting on her time after ANAM, Thea gives us the scoop for what’s on the horizon.

A good portion of your work since leaving ANAM has been with your ensemble the Ad Lib Collective. Can you tell us more about the group and your role in it?
Sure! The Ad Lib Collective is a group of four performers, composers and educators who are passionate about connecting with audiences through concert curation, chamber music, new commissions and community outreach. I direct the group, compose works and perform as a percussionist, with Hamish Upton – ANAM alumni and percussionist, Jesse Deane – saxophonist and Jared Yapp – composer and violist. Since the Banff and Castlemaine projects this year we are really focussing on building our portfolio of performances and outreach in Australia and internationally.

Tell us about your time at Banff.
In February this year Jared Yapp and I spent 3 weeks at the Banff Centre for the Creative Arts, in Alberta Canada. We were there to take part in a residency program called ‘Concert Making in the 21st Century’ directed by the incredible New York-based pianist Pedja Muzijevic. During the program, the participants developed their own projects while also collaborating on group performances and discussions about bringing concert making into the 21st century.

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A view of the Banff Centre and town from the top of Sulphur Mountain

At Banff, Jared and I developed a program of works for a new collaboration between Penny Quartet and Ad Lib. The program, ‘Music for our Changing Climate’ invites reflection and discussion about humanity’s response to climate change. This hour-long experience is designed to move seamlessly through musical works which flow over an undercurrent of light and sound installations, immersing the audience in a visceral experience of melting ice and its implied consequences.

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Thea and Jared improvising during the ice installation Open Studios


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Thea and Jared at the Fairmont Hotel, Lake Louise

Can you explain your project as part of the Castlemaine festival?
The day after I arrived home from Banff, percussionist Hamish Upton and I headed off for a two-week residency in Castlemaine to collaborate on the development of the Castlemaine State Festival Opening.

We worked with eleven Year 8 and Year 9 students from Castlemaine Secondary College to compose, choreograph and design the live percussion elements of the show. Having the opportunity to be involved in such a huge production was really exciting! As performers, mentors and educators, Hamish and I collaborated with the guest choreographer from the UK, Robby Graham and Artistic Director of the Festival, Sam Thomas in presenting the show. We even had to learn the dance moves to perform in the final number, though I’m glad I got to hide at the back for that one! The students were fabulous and threw themselves into the experience, performing with so much passion and energy. They were great to work with. Images of the rehearsals and performance on my website capture some of the excitement and raw joyful energy of the experience. It was great that Ad Lib had the chance to represent ANAM as alumni at this event!

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Public opening of the Castlemaine State Festival ‘The Future of Things Past‘ at the Castlemaine Goods Shed

CSF 2017

What is coming up next for Ad Lib Collective?
On Sunday 23 April, Hamish and I will be in Perth to present two performances in one day! The first is a lecture recital for the WA Day of Percussion on the work of composer Steve Reich at 10am in the Callaway Auditorium at UWA. The second is at 7.30pm that night in the Spectrum Project Space featuring performances of works for electronics and percussion by Perth composers Lindsay Vickery, Tim Newhouse and Josten Myburgh.

That is very exciting news for the Ad Lib Collective, do you have any other projects coming up?
I am thrilled to have just started developing the material for a Musica Viva in Schools show with pianist Leigh Harrold, and clarinettist Luke Carbon. The show will feature the music of Tan Dun’s Water Concerto and begin touring in 2018.

How do you think your time at ANAM helped prepare you for your life outside the Academy?
I am realising how much of an incredible gift all those hours of practice were! I don’t own any keyboard instruments (yet!) so it has been tricky to find places to practice this year, luckily I have some very generous friends!

I also think that the professional development courses that ANAM provides, and connections that ANAM set up for us through visiting artists and other performance opportunities have made a huge difference for me. I am very grateful to the Academy and especially Peter Neville for a life changing three years and certainly miss walking down the stairs into the percussion room every day!

How can people stay in touch?
Via my the ‘Contact’ page on my website. Here you are invited to sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date with upcoming performances, tours and workshops.


Wed 17 May, 8PM

The Carlton Connect Initiative, LAB-14
700 Swanston St, CARLTON

Ad Lib Collective
Thea Rossen percussion/composer
Jared Yapp composer
Penny Quartet
Amy Brookman
Madeleine Jevons violin
Anthony Chataway viola
Jarrad Mathie
cello (guest)

Tickets are available here
Visit the ‘Music for Our Changing Climate‘ Facebook event page for more information.




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