Sydney Festival: Suppression Dam

Rebecca Varidel
10th Dec 2018

Three internationally-renowned art music ensembles will unite in south-west Sydney on the banks of the Georges River for a world exclusive performance at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

Ensemble Offspring (Sydney), International Contemporary Ensemble (New York/Chicago) and Ensemble Adapter (Berlin) will present a surround-sound experience Suppression Dam in the vast Turbine Hall, for Sydney Festival on 12, 13 January 2019.

Featuring ARIA award-winning percussionist and Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring Claire Edwardes, the performance sees the three avant-garde heavyweights uniting to perform two vital, transcendent pieces from forward-thinking Australian composers: The Dam by Kate Moore, and Cleave by Natasha Anderson.

“We are beyond thrilled to present Suppression Dam here at Casula – the only place in the entire world you’ll catch this incredible supergroup of art music titans!” said Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Director, Craig Donarski.

The performance is prefaced by contemporary choral composer Alice Chance’s communal sound art project Audience Choir. The interactive performance calls on audience members to download an app to unlock a sound file, contributing to the soundscape. The audience is then taught simple canonic melodies, birthing an evolving and immersive music experience.

Opening the performance will be award-winning industrial chamber composition The Dam, by composer Kate Moore – the first woman to win the prestigious Matthijs Vermeulen Award. Showcasing her inimitable swirling rhythmic sound world, the piece draws from the rhythms of nature, from crickets to birds and frogs, to create a fascinating tapestry of not-quite-polyrhythmic sounds.

Experimental ensemble work Cleave by Australian composer and installation artist Natasha Anderson will close the performance. The piece harnesses spatialised electronics, processed samples and live instruments to create a soundscape of refracted sonic mirrors.


Ensemble Offspring (Sydney, Australia) Ensemble Offspring is Australia’s pre-eminent adventurous new music group, led by acclaimed percussionist Claire Edwardes. With a reputation for original and unique programming at the highest level, Ensemble Offspring pursues an agenda of directly shaping the music of our time.

Ensemble Offspring is based on the philosophy of promoting artistic integrity, open-mindedness and challenging the way artists and audiences think about music. The group has toured locations including Hong Kong, London, Brugge and Warsaw, performs at Australia’s favourite festivals, Carriageworks, the Sydney Opera House, and even the local bowling club. Passionate about nurturing the work of emerging, as well as established composers, Ensemble Offspring has premiered over 200 works in its 23-year history.

International Contemporary Ensemble (New York/ Chicago) The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) is an artist collective that is transforming the way music is created and experienced. As performer, curator, and educator, ICE explores how new music intersects with communities across the world. The ensemble’s 35 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners, and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. Works by emerging composers have anchored ICE’s programming since its founding in 2001, and the group’s recordings and digital platforms highlight the many voices that weave music’s present.

Ensemble Adapter (Berlin) Adapter is a German-Icelandic ensemble for contemporary music based in Berlin. The core of the group consists of a quartet with flute, clarinet, harp and percussion. Together with steady guest instrumentalists this core grows into chamber music settings with up to 10 players. On international concert tours and in the studio Adapter plays world premieres and other selected works of the recent past. The ensemble also produces and co-produces larger interdisciplinary projects – and is interested in exploring and testing the limits of trans-medial approaches in various settings. In workshops Adapter transfers knowledge of how to write, study and perform contemporary music to composers, instrumentalist and creatives worldwide. Adapter stays in touch with the latest developments in the differing scenes of contemporary creation - maintaining a progressive, authentic and powerful style.


Claire Edwardes
Claire Edwardes is an internationally acclaimed Australian percussion soloist, chamber musician and artistic director of Sydney based innovative new music group, Ensemble Offspring. She has been described by the press as a ‘sorceress of percussion’ and is well known for her powerhouse style of playing and inimitable stage presence. Claire is the only Australian musician to win the 'APRA Art Music Award for Excellence by an Individual' three times (2016, 2012, 2007), was the recipient of a recent Australia Council and a Freedman Fellowship and the winner of numerous European (resident there for seven years) instrumental and percussion competitions as well as 1999 Australian Young Performer of the Year. Recently appearing as soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the Myer Music Bowl and on Play School to an audience of thousands of children, Claire is passionate about percussion and new sounds being widely disseminated.

Kate Moore
Kate Moore is an Australian composer of new music currently based in the Netherlands. In 2017, Moore became the first woman to win the Matthijs Vermeulen Award from the Netherlands. Active on the international scene, Moore has had works performed by acclaimed ensembles including ASKO/ Schoenberg, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, the Grand Band, Stracc, the Amsterdam Cello Octet, Trio Scordatura, TwoSense, The Song Company, Ensemble Klang and De Ereprijs Orkest.

Natasha Anderson
Natasha Anderson is an Australian composer, musician and installation artist. She makes instrumental, audiovisual and acousmatic works in a variety of forms: solo performance, notated scores, cross-platform collaboration, audiovisual installation and multi-channel diffusion. A primary interest is the creation of idiosyncratic sounds — both acoustic and electronic — that generate tension through their precise formal placement and preternatural nature. Her works variously explore intense psychoacoustic experiences, the abject and the uncanny, as well as the whiplash juxtaposition of extremes.

Alice Chance
Works by Alice Chance are becoming well-known in Australia and beyond. Alice has completed composition residencies in India and the USA, and worked as composer in residence with the Moorambilla Festival from 2013-15. This work is featured in the 2014 ABC documentary Outback Choir and in the 2015 film Wide Open Sky. In 2016, Alice was composer in residence for Sydney Children's Choir and an associate artist with Barangaroo NSW, creating several new works including a sound installation.