David Chesworth explores territories that bridge music and the visual arts. He often collaborates with other artists most notably Sonia Leber. His work has featured in major festivals including Ars Electronica, Festival D'Automne de Paris, Edinburgh Festival, BAM's Next Wave Festival in New York, Bang on a Can Marathon, Sydney Biennale and Adelaide Festival. In 2012 he was artist in residence at the MONA Festival of Art and Music in Hobart.
With collaborator Sonia Leber, Chesworth has created a series of public art and gallery installations including 5000 Calls, a permanent 'sonic environment' for the surrounds of the Sydney Olympic Stadium for the 2000 Olympics. Other Leber and Chesworth projects include The Master's Voice a permanent sound installation for Canberra's Civic Walk and Rewards of Silence, a commission for the chapel of the Separate Prison at Port Arthur in Tasmania. They have presented installations in Ljubljana, Cardiff and New Zealand. Leber and Chesworth were the 2007 recipients of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art's Helen Macpherson Smith Commission for which they created the major installation work Almost Always Everywhere Apparent. Their solo exhibition, Space-Shifter has toured to several states including MONA FOMA in Tasmania.
Chesworth and Leber collaborated with Simeon Nelson on Proximities, a 2006 Commonwealth Games public art commission for William Barak Bridge in Melbourne and Oceanic Endless for Melbourne's Cardinia Council in 2007. Dyad, a Leber/Chesworth/Nelson proposal was shortlisted for the 2012 London Olympic Park bridges commission.
Chesworth’s interest in exploring wider extra-musical contexts has led to his involvement with Performance and experimental opera. His first experimental opera, Insatiable, was completed in 1986. Since then he has worked with Melbourne's Chamber Made Opera (Recital, The Two Executioners and Lacuna), and with the Melbourne International Arts Festival (Cosmonaut, commissioned by Opera Australia and Sabat Jesus). In 2010 Chesworth created the performance artwork Richter/Meinhof-Opera which was presented at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art for the 2010 Melbourne International Arts Festival and at the Art Gallery of NSW. The CD, Wicked Voice containing material from various productions has been released on ABC Classics.
Chesworth is the artistic director of the David Chesworth Ensemble. The ensemble has released four acclaimed CDs, Exotica Suite (ARIA nominated for classical release of the year) Badlands (also released in the US), Music To See Through, and recently Vanishing Tekopia. Panopticon from Music To See Through was awarded Instrumental Work of the Year at the APRA Classical Music Awards. Three works from the CD were nominated. The ensemble has given numerous performances including the Melbourne Festival and the Sydney Spring Festival of New Music. The ensemble has shared the stage with a range of artists from the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and The Bang On a Can Allstars to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The ensemble has made many international appearances including performances at BAM's Next Wave Festival, the Bang on a Can Marathon in New York, and the Kennedy Centre in Washington. The ensemble have also given performances in France and in the UK appearing at The Big Chill Festival.
His public installation Southgate received a Prix Ars Electronica Honorary Mention. Both Sabat-Jesus and more recently, the installation We The Masters created with Sonia Leber, were selected to represent Australia in the International Rostrum of Composer's World Music Days. Insatiable received an ATOM Award for Most Innovative Film, and The Two Executioners received the inaugural Age Performing Arts Award for the Most Outstanding Fringe Performance. Chesworth was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to pursue studies with opera composers including Robert Ashley and Gavin Bryars. He has received a Green Room Award for Sound Design in Drama. In 2011 Chesworth and Leber were finalists in the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture.
From 1978-1982 Chesworth coordinated the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre in Melbourne, a centre for experimental music, performance, film and video. As a solo performer and with post-punk group Essendon Airport (1978-83) he performed extensively during this time. He released several solo records including 50 Synthesizer Greats and Layer on Layer, and with the group Essendon Airport - Sonic Investigations of the Trivial and Palimpsest. All are now reissued on CD.