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I’m incredibly happy to be back in Adelaide. No, really, I am. I can’t tell you how incredible my time in the states was, but it feels more right than ever before to be returning to my community and support here in South Australia. And what a return, because for the entirety of June I’ll have the pleasure of taking over Format and presenting a massive retrospective of my work//a whole bunch of work by my dear friends. Let’s dive right on in!
To kick off my residency at Format, I’m presenting my first two releases — California Fragments, and Homecoming (three years later) — in full, back to back in Format’s gallery.
California Fragments, for me, reflected on how ideas of productivity, composition and creativity shift when you’re seriously mentally ill. I wrote, all up, about twelve bars of music when I first left Australia in 2011-12. It’s a strange album to look back on, I remember desperately trying to write and being unable to stick with anything like it was yesterday, but it stands as a work of an enduring want to say something, even when I found it almost physically impossible to address everything I was/wasn’t feeling. Indeed, for the situation it came out of, what California Fragments really tries to talk about is being in love but not being able to be 100% there. A sense of place that’s frozen and constantly distorting through a feeling that you haven’t got long left (in either sense, really). Of nervous quietness. It remains one of my favourite things I’ve ever written, and I remain proud of my younger self for being around to write it down.
homecoming (three years later) has similarly grim origins, coming from grief and a retreat inwards and away from everything to deal with it. I launched this LP at Format just over a year ago, and from that first performance to now, I am happy to report, things have gotten easier. Maybe there’s something about repeatedly opening your wounds for (international/interstate) crowds of strangers, but this album (and especially performing it) has been a process of healing for me. I don’t hold much stock in the idea of ~making something from our pain~ as an ideal model for art (I feel like insisting people be productive while they’re suffering is probably peak capitalism), I am more than happy to say admit that finding ways of dealing with and being open with your grief helps.
The second concert in Dan Thorpe’s residency is all about bringing the quiet and bringing the queer. First up is recent Adelaide transplant Shoshana Rosenberg.
Cheap Beer//$5 if you have a job, free if you don’t, more if you’re generous
Shoshana Rosenberg is a queer, Jewish, eternal novice. Through experiments with the bass clarinet in meditation, chanting and traditional Klezmer music, she seeks to explore harmony and space. In her cultivation of transparent relationships with audiences, Shoshana allows witness to her increasingly complex dialogue between player and instrument, with all its failures and successes.
In my set, I’ll be playing a selection of quiet works by myself and American composers. Michael Pissaro’s Fields Have Ears One is a beautiful exercise in hearing the world musically. A subtle mix of field recordings, sine tones, noise, and live piano, it invites us to hear the ways natural and built environments collide. Sam Erin Cirulis’ DIAPHRAGM is a monumental queer performance work. It invites the pianist (and audience) to physically experience the struggle of inhabiting a body that pushes against and constrains your sense of self. Finally, A20 is a work of mine that explores geography and dislocation as a bodily experience. With hours of self shot footage driving from Adelaide to Sydney, we experience how the paths we take feed back on ourselves and on each other.
In this fourth concert, Dan is joined by improvisor/composer/performer extraordinaire Mat Morison. Merging two unique and visual musical languages, Thorpe and Morison create a sensory and sonically rich world in Format’s basement. Dan Thorpe: Pf/Sampler/Electronics/Winds, Mat Morison:: Pf/Sampler/Electronics/Accordion.
In the penultimate show of his month-long residency, Dan Thorpe presents his electronic music, featuring long time duo-partner Melanie Walters on Flute, as well as his Debussy Remixes (for Waterfall). They’re joined by the fabulous//endlessly fascinating Lauren Abineri.
Closing out an epic month of music making, Dan Thorpe is joined by the newest (and by far coolest) kids on Adelaide’s experimental music block — The New Collective. Fresh out of making the Barr Smith Reading Room rumble, they’ll be presenting a whole bunch of new works by resident composer/performers Frank Giles, Leah Blankendaal, Jacob Whitelock, Adrians Marks Ozols, a work by Shoshana Rosenberg, a cool new thing with Lauren Abineri, and some poetry by Jessica Liebelt. Following this, the New Collective will be performing Dan Thorpe’s Voice Memo Songs (2011-2017) in full, assembled from fragments, notes, and hasty phone samples over the course of the last six years. These pieces also represent the culmination of a longer process of writing the micro-commissions that helped get Dan to highSCORE in 2016.
Feat:: Adrians Marks Ozols :: Voice
Lauren Abineri :: Voice//Electronics
Frank Giles :: Violin//Viola
Harriet Davies :: ‘Cello
Jessica Liebelt :: Bass Guitar//Poetry
Jacob Whitelock :: Guitar
Leah Blankendaal :: Flute(s)
Anna Coleman :: Clarinet(s)
Dan Thorpe :: Piano//Sampler//Voice//Electronics//Being sad and gay
Now that that’s over with, I’ll also be performing in Perth this month. On the 4th of June you can catch me at Tura’s Church Series. On the 19th, you can catch the WASO playing my new work, threaded between, at the Hale School. Check out their websites for further details.
Thanks, as always, for all your support. As always, keep in touch, and I look forward to seeing some of your beautiful faces this June.