ACO Cinemusica Richard TognettiA bold collaboration between two of Australia’s longest standing musical forces – the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) and Synergy Percussion, Cinemusica brings some of the most iconic film scores to the concert platform in a national concert tour.

This is a chance to marvel at the skill of some of the finest film composers of the 20th and 21st centuries as these two intrepid ensembles explore the thrilling sonic possibilities of strings and percussion.

It’s been 30 years since the ACO and Synergy last performed together, so this is a momentous occasion,” says Richard Tognetti. “This program challenges the audience to think about the way music arises from its sources. You have Hollywood film composers Thomas Newman and Bernard Herrmann alongside 20th century European giants Xenakis and Bartók – all with different approaches to the compositional process, but all delivering music that is ripe for visual realisation.”

The ACO last collaborated with Timothy Constable on Timeline in 2014, a visual and sonic journey through the history of music, which was a sell-out hit. This time the award-winning percussionist and composer, will not only perform, but he also directs Synergy Percussion, and presents the world premiere of a new work, Cinemusica which he composed especially for the combined forces of the ACO and Synergy.

“I am really looking forward to this concert,” says Constable. “It’s an absolute kaleidoscope of wonderful sounds. Richard and I tabled some of our mutual favourite composers, and this beautiful filmic musical journey started to coalesce. From the intimate, fragile, crystalline stories by Thomas Newman, to the epic blockbuster narratives of Xenakis, and Bartók’s staggering masterwork of brilliant technique and emotive force, the possibilities with this combination are just endless. It will be such a joy to share the stage with the brilliant and hugely creative ACO.”

Composer Bernard Herrmann worked extensively with cinema’s supreme master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, on films that gave shape to the genre of the psychological thriller. Their extraordinary partnership included such films as The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo and North by Northwest.

But perhaps his most famous of all was Psycho, with its iconic ‘shower scene’ shrieking violin motif frequently topping the list of the scariest movie music of all time. The ACO performs Herrmann’s Suite for Strings from Psycho, viscerally familiar and indelibly conjuring the Hitchcock horror classic.

Thomas Newman is part of Hollywood film music royalty – his father Alfred Newman wrote the 20th Century Fox Fanfare, and his cousin Randy is one of America’s finest singer-songwriters. He has been nominated for a dozen Academy Awards and several Golden Globes, and has won a slew of Grammys and BAFTAs.

For TV, Newman has composed for The Newsroom, Boston Public and Six Feet Under for which he won an Emmy, and his music has been used at both summer and winter Olympic Games. Newman has created soundtracks for more than 50 films, rising to fame for his scoring of Desperately Seeking Susan, starring Madonna.

In Cinemusica, we hear selections from his hypnotic, yet witty score for the Academy Award-winning film, American Beauty, the vibrant and cynically humorous character film about American suburbia. The Herrmann and Newman works are bookended by the surging wildness of two works by Iannis Xenakis, Voile for strings and Psappha for percussion.

Romanian-born, Greek by descent, and ultimately French composer, Xenakis was a polymath. As well as being one of the most important post-war avant-garde composers, he was a mathematician and architect, and for more than a dozen years right-hand man to architect, Le Corbusier.

Finishing this cinematically inspired concert is Bartók’s epic Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. The icy atmospherics of Bartók’s work found an unforgettable visual accompaniment when Stanley Kubrick used it to chilling effect in The Shining.

Following performances in Sydney and Brisbane, Cinemusica will be presented in Canberra (9 April), Melbourne (10 & 11 April), and Adelaide (12 April). For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Richard Tognetti – courtesy of the Australian Chamber Orchestra