20UP – Australian Art Orchestra Twentieth Anniversary Concert Series

AAO_Tobias TitzThe Australian Art Orchestra (AAO) is the most dynamic contemporary jazz ensemble in Australia and has included some of the most innovative composers and extraordinary instrumentalists in the country, whose improvisations and cross-cultural collaborations have created an eclectic catalogue of strikingly original musical projects.

Since its inception in 1994, the AAO has built an unparalleled international reputation for the breadth and quality of its artistic output, establishing itself as one of the most important influences in modern Australian music.

To celebrate the music of the AAO past, present and future, Artistic Director Peter Knight has curated 20UP – Australian Art Orchestra Twentieth Anniversary Concert Series to showcase the extraordinary talents of the orchestra’s musicians and the eclectic repertoire built over the past two decades.

Knight, who succeeded AAO founder Paul Grabowsky AO as Artistic Director in 2013, said the 20UP series aims to celebrate the legacy and history of the AAO while also looking to the future of this unique ensemble of musical innovators.

The 20UP Gala Performance with the full orchestra and featuring Ngaiire, Gian Slater, Sandy Evans OAM, Paul Grabowsky AO, Eugene Ball, Scott Tinkler, Artistic Director Peter Knight and more, will take place on Friday 7 November at The Coopers Malthouse – which hosted the first AAO concert in 1996.

The gala program features a new work commissioned especially for the occasion from brilliant young Sydney-based composer, Austin Buckett, which explores the meeting point of composition and improvisation and features a range of brilliant performers including vocalist Gian Slater, turntablist/experimental DJ Martin Ng and AAO Artistic Director Peter Knight on trumpet and electronics.

The evening also features a suite of works drawn from the repertoire of the Australian Art Orchestra developed during twenty years of commissioning and performance including Passion (the AAO response to Bach’s St Matthew Passion), Testimony (Sandy Evans’ OAM tribute to Charlie Parker), Ringing the Bell Backwards (the first work written for the Orchestra by Paul Grabowsky AO) and most recent work Struttin’ With Some Barbecue by Eugene Ball – which features acclaimed world/pop vocalist Ngaiire in a tribute to Louis Armstrong that premiered at MONA FOMA in January 2014.

In the lead up to the 20UP Gala Performance, the Solo Series will showcase two intimate solo programs at the ANAM Quartetthaus for a limited number of people in a stunningly intimate setting.

“The Solo Series showcase some of the ensemble’s incredibly talented Australian musicians including trumpeter Scott Tinkler, percussionist Vanessa Tomlinson and saxophonist Sandy Evans OAM who have been integral to AAO’s impressive journey over the past two decades,” said Knight.

“The intimate and compelling performances will also introduce audiences to some of the new faces of the orchestra including multi-instrumentalist Austin Buckett and turntabilist Martin Ng.”

The Solo Series will be presented in the ANAM Quartetthaus at the South Melbourne Town Hall – a small, demountable circular building made entirely of wood that was designed by acclaimed design company, Bluebottle, specifically for the performance of acoustic music.

For more information, visit: www.aao.com.au for details.

Image: Australian Art Orchestra – photo by Tobias Titz