Breaking Boundaries With Ensemble Offspring’s Techno Folk

By Sammy Moynihan

Innovative and with a twist!

Ensemble Offspring is not your typical music ensemble. They are known for their innovative and daring performances that challenge the boundaries of contemporary music. Their latest concert, Techno Folk, promises to be no exception, bringing together a mesmerising mix of chamber music with jazz and folk influences. 

Artistic Director Claire Edwardes describes the concert as “good food with a twist!”  

“Techno Folk features a plethora of folk and jazz inspired music by living composers for the unusual combination of percussion, clarinet, bass clarinet, and piano,” she explains. “A curiosity for new sounds should draw new Canberrans in but at the end of the day it is the innate familiarity of so many of the harmonies, rhythms, and tunes that are sure to make for an enjoyable yet memorable evening.” 

Claire will be performing percussion on the night and will be joined by Jason Noble on clarinet and Benjamin Kopp on piano. 

Claire Edwardes

While the group has achieved great success internationally, with recent tours to Amsterdam, Berlin, Glasgow, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, they are no strangers to Canberra.  

“It’s been quite a while since we performed at The Street Theatre,” says Claire. “We were keen to return and felt that the Techno Folk program would be just the thing to relaunch our unique brand of living new music in Australia’s Capital.” 

An exciting element of Techno Folk is the inclusion of a brand new piece by the 7-time Aria Award nominated composer Joe Chindamo.  

Known for his large-scale works for symphony orchestras, Joe is excited to write for a smaller, more progressive group. He appreciates the challenge of highlighting his own unique voice in the music.  

“There is much honour in being granted an opportunity to create something that not only didn’t exist before, but is a reflection of my musical worldview,” Joe states. 

Spellbinding works with plenty to talk about

Alongside Joe Chindamo’s new piece, the program also features Karen Tanaka’s thrillingly fast Techno Etudes, and Chick Corea’s much-loved Children’s Songs. Alice Chance’s contemplative Mirroring will offer a moment of reflection amidst the frenzied energy of the other works. 

Creation is at the core of Ensemble Offspring’s work as they regularly commission a range of spellbinding works by composers through their artist development programs. Techno Folk will highlight the works of Samantha Wolf and Nicole Murphy, who have both been selected as part of the company’s Noisy Women program.  

Claire describes the format of the evening as, “an intimate trio show with lots of chatting between works, technically virtuosity, and chamber musicianship from performers who have been playing together for years. The works are short and varied so if something doesn’t take your fancy the next work is sure to please!” 

This conversational style of presenting music allows an audience to understand the experience on a deeper level, exploring the attitudes and enthusiasm of a company that prides itself on the presentation of new, original work. 

“We find with music that people have never heard before, giving context to the music and the composers really makes the whole concert journey more meaningful for listeners,” Claire enthuses. “The composers we commission, collaborate, and perform with are all our friends and close colleagues – they are very much living, and very much telling our stories, through music.” 

Ensemble Offspring; Sydney; December 2021

Curiosity and magic

Joe is excited to join the audience and witness this innovative new concert for himself. 

“There is little more exciting than hearing a new work come to life at its premiere performance, because the musicians always bring something to the work you didn’t know was there,” Joe beams.  

“It’s a treat also to witness its reception by an audience who are hearing it for the first time. Curiously, it makes me hear it for the first time too, almost as if by magic; to have inhabited the collective minds of those present.” 

For Joe, the experience of attending a premiere is akin to the wonder of being a child at a theme park.  

“No matter how many times I do this, it always evokes the magic I experienced as a kid in anticipation of exciting things, like visiting Luna Park,” he says. “But then again, that’s not surprising, because this premiere will be a joyride. Perhaps even a rollercoaster!” 

With Techno Folk, Ensemble Offspring promises a concert that will challenge and inspire audiences in equal measure. With their commitment to representing the voices of marginalised groups and their dedication to highlighting the perspectives of diverse communities, this is a group that is not to be missed.  

As Claire says: “When you realise that dead white male composers are totally ‘yesterday’, your ears will be transformed forever!” 

The Ensemble Offspring: Techno Folk concert is on at The Street Theatre on Wednesday, 29 March at 7:30pm. Tickets are $30 – $39 via the venue. 

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