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Special performance at Melbourne White Night!

David Chesworth Ensemble

Presented by the National Gallery of Victoria

Saturday 23 February 2013 @9pm

Ground Floor NGV Australia (Fed Square)



New CD Vanishing Tekopia


Vanishing Tekopia
'Vanishing Tekopia' refers obliquely to a tiny island with a small population and distinctive culture that is slowly vanishing beneath the Pacific Ocean as global warming increases sea levels. But it also refers to many minority cultural ‘islands’ throughout the world which are under threat of vanishing, as pressures from larger environmental, political and economic forces take their toll. These include the
Hmong in Laos, the Ogoni in the Niger Delta and the Naga in northern India.

For Vanishing Tekopia, our two singers have mastered a phonetic language which I specially devised. The ensemble’s hope is that Vanishing Tekopia will be seen as both a requiem to and a consequence of the process of cultural absorption and assimilation.
David Chesworth

Listen, Buy CD or download Vanishing Tekopia

Vanishing Tekopia concert reviews:

Malcolm Hill - Tony Reck 21c

David Pepperell - Australian Music Centre


Vanishing Tekopia CD Reviews:

Arts Hub review

Stack Magazine

The Dwarf


David Chesworth Ensemble
It's an odd combination. The trombone blares, pianos rumble and the vibraphone plinks. Rousing themes are accompanied by a grumbling undertow or abruptly abandoned, while the piano bumbles like a bee at a windowpane; a searing lament is absorbed by the dinky tinkling of the music box it emerges from. The net effect is strangely euphonious. The Wire, UK

Performing the music of David Chesworth and others, the David Chesworth Ensemble has forged it's own musical path winning over audiences around the world with its unique, evocative music.

The David Chesworth Ensemble creates a vast soundscape of orchestral, exotic instruments and electronics in a feast of striking, scraping, blowing, shaking, pushing, pulling and plucking.

From his early experimental beginnings with seminal post-punk outfit Essendon Airport, David Chesworth has become one of Australia's key composers and sound artist. His distinctive compositions and installations have been performed and exhibited extensively in Australia and throughout the world. Major festivals include Ars Electronica, Festival D'Automne de Paris, Edinburgh Festival, Melbourne and Adelaide Festivals, Sydney Biennale and BAM Next Wave Festival New York.

Volume and sonic density builds and boils over.
Newsday, New York

David Chesworth Ensemble have played with David over a long period of time and are familiar with the unique style of his music. New compositions are workshopped by the group and the players make suggestions about the interpretation of the music. It is only after several performances that a piece finally settles into its ultimate form.

The Players

Performing in the ensemble are:
David Chesworth - electronics
Andrea Keeble- violin
Helen Mountfort- cello
Jeremy Alsop - bass
Gemma Turvey - piano
Adrian Sherriff - trombone
Peter Neville - percussion
Eugene Ughetti- percussion
Robert Goodge - guitars
Melissa Webb - vocals, taisho koto, khaen
Joanne Kuluveovski - vocals

Other performers who have regularly played with the ensemble include:
Hope Csutoros - violin
Stephanie Lindner - violin
Caerwen Martin - cello
Michelle John - cello
Bill McDonald - bass
Darren Steffen - bass
Chris Hale- bass
Simon Myers - trombone

John McAll - piano
Xenia Hanusiak - percussion

Michael Hewes - sound design
James Atkins - recorded sound


Touring and Performance Highlights

2012 Performances at MONA FOMA Hobart where David was artist in residence

2010 ABC Radio Live-to Air Iwaki Hall

2009 Performances at Melbourne Recital Centre

2008 Performances in Sydney, Brisbane & on ABC TV Sunday Arts

2007 The Big Chill Festival, Ledbury Castle England. Paris quartier d'ete festival France

2006 Performance at Classical Music Awards Sydney (Award winner for Instrumental Work of the Year for Panopticon)

2005 Music to See Through CD launch performances in Melbourne and Sydney

2004 Ensemble members perform Cosmonaut an opera composed by David Chesworth for the Melbourne International Arts Festival

2003 Performances in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Performance at the AFI Awards broadcast nationally on ABC TV

2002 Performance with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Forum, Melbourne

2001 BAM Next Wave Festival, and Bang on a Can Marathon, New York and Kennedy Centre, Washington. Australian East Coast tour including "10 Days on the Island" Festival

2000 ABC TV Arts Show Special "Live at the Night Cat" (check it out on YouTube)

1999 Live-to air-concert, New Music Show, ABC Classic FM

1997 Melbourne International Festival of the Arts

1996 Port Fairy Spring Music Festival

1995 Melbourne International Festival of the Arts

1995 Winterarts, Victorian Arts Centre

1994 Sydney Spring Festival of Music



The top line players were all in fine form and the concert’s trajectory from measured emotional intensity to skillfully executed, brash playfulness made for a satisfying experience, always diverting in the details and often surprising in the many departures from the composer’s fundamental idiom.
Keith Gallasch, RealTime See the full RealTime review of recent Sydney concert here

Unusual, certainly; colourful in effect, yes; strange, undoubtedly; exciting, without reservation. The aural palettes, in turn minimalist, vibrant, mesmerising and even industrial, defy easy categorisation.
Kim Lockwood, Herald Sun

It's an odd combination. The trombone blares, pianos rumble and the vibraphone plinks. Rousing themes are accompanied by a grumbling undertow or abruptly abandoned, while the piano bumbles like a bee at a windowpane; a searing lament is absorbed by the dinky tinkling of the music box it emerges from. The net effect is strangely euphonious...

...a raindrop theme is thumbed on toy piano and fleshed out with legato violin; orchestral mutterings reach a mutinous pitch and are silenced by the trombone's warthog roar; a series of preparatory pawings at the manuscript are run together like stammering speech.

Best of all is 'Bells Of Leipzig', where the bells clank like a cornershop door in a fitful wind. A cello enters briefly but the music is already somewhere else, long since departed, never to return. The loss is keenly felt, suggesting emotional wounds, psychic traumas and blighted landscapes. The devastation is irreparable.

Chesworth's ability to suggest so much with so little vindicates his cerebral approach. Neither idle nor smug, his stratagems provoke and confound, stimulating both thought and feeling with the shock of a new aesthetic: penetrating restraint. Silence speaks volumes, uponatimes...
Bleddyn Butcher, The Wire, UK

Minimalist elements influenced the music of David Chesworth who bought his own ensemble to perform an attractive suite inspired by the film 'Badlands'. An amplified violin repeats simple cells of melody as volume and sonic density builds and boils over...
Jeremy Eichler, Newsday, New York. Bang on a Can Marathon, concert review

a group of musicians with some extraordinary skills... superb use of interjectory comment...the clever conversation between the violin of Hope Csutoros and the cello of Helen Mountfort reflected not only Chesworth's considerable talent in an attacking style but also allowed a degree of showmanship...boldly delivered by the musicians.
Jeremy Vincent, The Australian

Chesworth's instrumental composition and soundscapes are nothing less than magnificent.
Chris Boyd, The Melbourne Times

The top line players were all in fine form and the concert's trajectory from measured emotional intensity to skillfully executed, brash playfulness made for a satisfying experience. With warbling trombone and tinkling piano it escalates into a mad big band sound. A sound that suggests a far larger ensemble...In a less formal venue we might have danced.
Keith Gallasch, RealTime



Click here to Listen to or Purchase CDs

Music to See Through
Double CD
Featuring the Ensemble at their creative best and joined by three very unique Australian voices - Robert Forster from the Go-Betweens, the wonderful Lisa Miller and the extraordinary Amanda Stewart.

The opening track Panopticon recently won Instrumental Work of the Year at the 2006 Australian Classical Music Awards. Three pieces from this album were shortlisted.

A quiet intensity and a thoughtful concentration pervade each piece, resulting in some quite luminescent moments. An accomplished man at work.
Ken Hollings -The Wire, London

Music To See Through reaches many high points. Its a consummate sound world inhabited by data flow, electronic twitterings and distant rumblings, overlaid with a delicate vibraphone reverie.
Keith Gallasch - Realtime Sydney

Double CD
Badlands Suite, is based on excerpts from Carl Orff's Musica Poetica, which David heard on the soundtrack for Terrence Malick's film Badlands. Later he bought a recording of Orff's Schulwerk, performed by German school children, and loved the uncomplicated nature of the repeating motifs and a certain unnerving quality that reminded him, in some ways, of his own music. The connection was strong enough for him to embark on the reworking of two excerpts from each work, which resulted in Badlands Suite.

The recording is simple and immediate. Each listening, however, opens the ears to the complex interplay lurking below.

Trombone, strings, piano and tuned percussion combine with crackling telephone transmissions, far-away bells, pan pipes played by the desert wind and barely-in-control electronic effects in a work that is beautiful, vivid, narcotic and seriously habit forming.
Graham Lee

Exotica Suite
Described as a child of Igor Stravinsky and cartoon composer Carl Stalling! Chesworth's music plays oblique homage to a vast array of music genres and sound sources. His ensemble of highly skilled musicians tackles anything from fiery contrapuntal duets to "incredibly strange" South Sea ambiences.

Something is definitely happening here and it has nothing to do with rock & roll. That David Chesworth Ensemble's new CD Exotica Suite, arrives just as cocktail culture is fizzing is a happy conjunction. Brent Clough, Rolling Stone

Chesworth is a serious composer. But he's a wild card who kicks against the constraints of musical pigeon-holing and expectation. Lesley Sly, 24 Hours

Click here to Listen to or Purchase CDs