ELISION’s concert takes audiences on a dynamic sound journey


Tristram Williams performing Matthew Sergeant’s work ‘terrains’ at ELISION Ensemble’s concert The Surface Project, RMIT Storey Hall, 2016. Photo by Margund Sallowsky.

Congratulations ELISION Ensemble on a wonderful performance at last night’s concert of The Surface Project at RMIT Storey Hall, presented by RMIT Gallery in partnership with RMIT SIAL Sound Studios.

The concert was part of the public programs for the RMIT Gallery exhibition ELISION:30 years, on until 22 October.

Composers Matthew Sergeant flew in from the UK and Timothy McCormack from the US to hear their works performed.

Sergeant’s work [terrains] was written for Tristram Williams (who performed the piece), “in friendship and the sincerest admiration.”


Composer Matthew Sergeant applauds musician Tristram Williams after his performance of ‘terrains’

“It’s certainly not really about development, as the word is usually defined. Nor is it really about contrast,” explains Sergeant.

“In one way I suppose it’s more like watching an earwig or a mountain goat weave its way across different planes – some steep, some high, some tight, some sprawling – and watching that same creature accommodate such different lands in its gait.

“And yet, in another way, it’s about the land itself. A mountain not just as a relief but as an imprint in the sky. And how – just like the ‘Gestalt Vase’ (is it a vase or two opposing faces?) – one’s impression oscillates between foregroundings of these different states. Relief/imprint. Pitch/noise.

The Surface Project concert performance was especially emotional for composer Timothy McCormack, as it was the world premiere of his work ‘subsidence’.

The music, performed by Daryl Buckley and Peter Neville, took audiences on a haunting Gothic journey – and the composition itself took four years and featured a ‘third player’ – according to Buckley, ‘the instrument asserted itself in the piece.’

McCormack explains: “subsidence plumbs a nearly featureless world of soft but charged noise to reveal its subterranean motion. At times static, at times turbulent, the movements and behaviours within this noise embody a geologic heaviness and hugeness.

“Named after the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land, subsidence enacts a slow concentration of matter and energy which give way to a protracted, eventually cataclysmic implosion.”


(left to right) Daryl Buckley in rehearsal with composer Timothy McCormack, working on McCormack’s piece ‘subsidence’.

Subsidence was commissioned and recorded for the RMIT Sonic Arts Collection.

The Surface Project comprised four works – Aaron Cassidy’s The wreck of former boundaries (for electric lap-steel guitar and electronics),  Matthew Sergeant’s  [terrains] (For quartertone flugelhorn with preparation), the world premiere of Timothy McCormack’s subsidence (for electric lap-steel guitar with two players) and Richard Barrett’s Codex III (for three players).

Associate professor Lawrence Harvey, Director of the RMIT Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) provided sound spatialisation, along with technical management by Simon Maisch.

“This concert continues RMIT’s research and practice into spatial music performance,” said Harvey.
“For this performance we used a different software solution, but similar technique to previous events.  The different software for sound spatialisation, meant we could move individual instrument sounds in real-time, making for a more dynamic and responsive approach to the sound.

ELISION Ensemble musicians (left to right) Tristram Williams, Peter Neville and Daryl Buckley perform Richard Barrett’s ‘Codex 111’ at The Surface Project concert performance, RMIT Storey Hall, 2016. Photo by Margund Sallowsky.

 “We also placed the performers further into the sound-field of the speakers, allowing them to hear more of the spatialisation.”
A video of The Surface Project concert will be shown during the RMIT Gallery exhibition ELISION: 30 years (9 September – 22 October).



Free ELISION concert – September 21 RMIT Storey Hall


(left to right) musician Daryl Buckley with visiting composers Matthew Sergeant and Timothy McCormack, at RMIT Gallery’s ELISION: 30 years exhibition.

The internationally renowned ELISION Ensemble will be performing in a free concert at RMIT Storey Hall on Wednesday 21 September from 6.30-8 pm.

Register for tickets

The Surface Project concert features Daryl Buckley, Peter Neville and Tristram Williams performing the world premiere of Timothy McCormack’s subsidence, as well as works by Aaron Cassidy, Matthew Sergeant and Richard Barrett.

This is a wonderful opportunity to see ELISION in concert in Melbourne. The Ensemble explore new ways of incorporating performative techniques into musical performance, making the contemporary classical music concert both visually and aurally exciting for audiences.

ELISION turns 30 years old this year. To celebrate, RMIT Gallery’s exhibition ELISION: 30 years (9 September – 22 October) features regular performances and talks, as well as The Surface Project concert performance. Read the full list of lunchtime performances and talks. 

‘ELISION cultivates an elaborate vocabulary of choreographic behaviour in sonic design’ said creative director, and founding member Daryl Buckley.

‘The Surface Project will showcase radical new techniques in performance.’

Audiences will be able to hear Aaron Cassidy’s The wreck of former boundaries, Matthew Sergeant’s terrains, Richard Barett’s Codex as well as Timothy McCormack’s subsidence. All works fall under the rubric of The Surface Project.

Buckley will play an electric lap-steel guitar, which combined with new tunings, new double slide techniques and a radical use of the bridge system to affect pitch alteration, will enable an exploration of the concept of ‘surface’ across the three works.

The Surface Project  will be premiered at RMIT on 21 September, in partnership with SIAL Sound Studios. It will then tour as part of the ELISION Ensemble’s ongoing appearances at the Harvard Music Department, Carriageworks, the Singapore Festival and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.



Andrew Ford, composer and presenter of The Music Show on Radio National, talks to ELISION creative director Daryl Buckley, and to composer Liza Lim. Listen now





Daryl Buckley in conversation with composer Aaron Cassidy

Composer Aaron Cassidy in action

Composer Aaron Cassidy in action

Join American composer and conductor Aaron Cassidy and Daryl Buckley, Artistic Director of the ELISION Ensemble, Australia’s premier and international contemporary music group, on Monday September 14th at 12.30pm as they discuss their new collaboration the wreck of former boundaries which has been commissioned by the RMIT University Sonic Arts Collection.

Aaron Cassidy will create the new piece as part of a group of works entitled The surface project, which will be written and performed in collaboration with Daryl Buckley.

Following the conversation, ELISION Ensemble member Tristram Williams will give a performance of Aaron Cassidy’s What then renders these forces visible is a strange smile (or, First Study for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion) (2007-08).

Tristram Williams, Performing with the ELISION Ensemble, RMIT Storey Hall. Photo: Vicki Jones

Tristram Williams, Performing with the ELISION Ensemble, RMIT Storey Hall. Photo: Vicki Jones

RMIT University’s Sonic Arts Collection is the first of its kind in Australia. The field of sonic art can involve music, language and sounds across a wide sonic palette and provide an opportunity to hear the world in a different way with a focus on listening as a creative act.

For more than five years RMIT Gallery has worked closely with sound and design researchers at the University developing a platform for spatial electroacoustic sound works which are showcased in exhibitions and public performances.

In 2015 the ELISION Ensemble performed the Australian premiere of Richard Barrett’s world-line cycle, with Timothy McCormack’s Heavy Matter and Liza Lim’s Weaver of Fictions at RMIT Storey Hall. The event was presented by RMIT Gallery in collaboration with SIAL (Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory) Sound Studios, and recorded for inclusion in the RMIT Sonic Arts Collection.

Aaron Cassidy and Daryl Buckley’s work The surface project will be premiered at RMIT in 2016, and then toured as part of the ELISION Ensemble’s ongoing appearances at the Harvard Music Department, Carriageworks, the Singapore Festival and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

What: Daryl Buckley in conversation with composer Aaron Cassidy

Where:  SIAL Studios, RMIT Design Hub (building 100), Level 1, Room 3 (turn left after leaving the lifts), Corner Victoria and Swanston Streets, Carlton VIC 3000.

When: 12.30pm Monday 14 September

FREE but RSVP essential: rmit.gallery@rmit.edu.au / (03) 9925 1717

About the speakers

Aaron Cassidy is an American composer and conductor, who has been based in England since 2007. His work has been programmed by leading international contemporary music specialists and soloists, including ELISION, Ensemble SurPlus, EXAUDI and Ictus Ensemble, and soloists such as Garth Knox, Ian Pace, and Mieko Kanno. His work has been played at major International festivals and venues including Donaueschingen, Huddersfield, Darmstadt, and Gaudeamus. In 2015 Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble performed “A Painter of Figures in Rooms” by Aaron Cassidy at New Music New College in Sarasota, Florida.

In 2008 ELISION presented a portrait concert of his work for broadcast on ABC Classic FM, and in 2009-10 the ensemble completed an extensive recording project of his work in conjunction with Radio Bremen. He has received grants, stipends and commissions from Südwestrundfunk, allerArt Bludenz, the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, Haupstadtkultutfonds Berlin, New York Foundation of the Arts, the British Council, and the London Cultural Olympiad 2012.


Daryl Buckley has been Artistic Director of the ELISION Ensemble, Australia’s premier and international contemporary music group, since 1986. He has organized over thirty international tours from Australia to 14 different countries, with highlights including performances at Berlin Philharmonie and Konzerthaus, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Radio Bremen and the Festival d’Automne á Paris.


ELISION to perform at RMIT Storey Hall on 30 April

left to right: Lawrence Harvey, RMIT and Daryl Buckley, ELISION Ensemble Left to right: Lawrence Harvey, RMIT and Daryl Buckley, ELISION Ensemble at RMIT sound studios.

On Thursday 30 April at 7.30 pm ELISION, Australia’s International Contemporary Music Ensemble, will perform the Australian premiere of Richard Barrett’s World-line cycle and Timothy McCormack’s Heavy Matter for solo trombone (played by Ben Marks), and Genevieve Lacey will perform Liza Lim’s Weaver of Fictions for alto Ganassi recorder.


The ELISION event is presented by RMIT Gallery in collaboration with SIAL (Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory) Sound Studios. It will be recorded for inclusion in the RMIT Sonic Arts Collection, and be performed at Storey Hall, RMIT, 336-348 Swanston Street, Melbourne. Bookings are welcome (03) 9925 1717.

The performance will also feature: Tristram Williams, piccolo trumpet, flugel horn Benjamin Marks, trombone Daryl Buckley, electric lapsteel guitar Peter Neville, percussion Genevieve Lacey, Ganassi recorder.

ELISION has established a reputation for delivering authoritative and virtuosic interpretations of complex, unusual, and challenging aesthetics, often developed in close collaboration with the composer.

Recently the group has worked with composers Bryn Harrison, Sam Hayden, Einar Einarsson, Matthew Sergeant, Luke Paulding, Justin Hoke, Turgut Ercetin and Ann Cleare, and maintained a close research relationship with SIAL studios at RMIT, Melbourne.

ELISION has also developed a strong relationship with newly emergent strands of American composition made evident in the close association with composers Aaron Cassidy, Evan Johnson and Timothy McCormack and recent residencies at Harvard and Stanford Universities.

Richard Barrett’s CONSTRUCTION, a large project commissioned by the European Capital of Culture programme, was premiered by ELISION at the Huddersfield Contemporary music Festival in 2011 and broadcast live by BBC Radio3. In this video, ELISION performs DARK MATTER, an electro acoustic installation performance by Richard Barrett and Per Inge Bjørlo.

‘World-line’ is a term derived from the theory of relativity, and denotes the history of a particle or object as it passes through the dimensions of time and space. The music could be thought of as a miniature ‘universe’, whose matter and energy are composed of the expanding and contracting pitches of sound, and which is experienced in relation to the ‘world-line’ traced by the lap steel guitar and the shifting relationships and perspectives between it and the other instruments and sounds.

world-line is an interlocking cycle of compositions featuring the electric lap steel guitar (in a tuning and setup devised in collaboration with Daryl Buckley, to whom it is dedicated), together with various combinations of piccolo trumpet/flugelhorn, percussion and electronics. It consists of five components, also performable separately: dustriftknotlens, and rasa.


dustknot and lens were commissioned for the RMIT Sonic Arts Collection, while the remainder of world-line was commissioned by the TRANSIT festival in Leuven (Belgium). The five pieces are not played separately, but split into different sections and recombined into a continuous form in which the electronic parts of dust create overlaps between the regions of instrumental activity.

ELISION has recorded over 22 compact discs, undertaken close to 40 international tours to over 14 different countries and initiated international commissions and projects supported by cultural organisations in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Holland, France and Japan.

Daryl Buckley says being in the audience provides another level of engagement with the work: “I know we’re talking about sound, but the manner of engagement that you have with sound is pushed to another level, if you can actually witness what it takes to make that sound.

“So in this case, no sound is divorced from human agency or human action, everything is an outcome of gestures and of effort and of studies that we are making.”


“And I think that dramaturgy, if you like, of locking and unlocking sound, as being something that emerges from and is scripted from what the body can do, is a really, really amazing thing.

“It’s athletic, it’s virtuosic, it has the same sort of fascination in the way that comes from watching somebody in a sporting area or overcoming any obstacle. It’s that application of energies and commitment. So I think it’s a really visually compelling thing to see.”


Venue: Storey Hall Auditorium, RMIT
Address: Level 5, 336–348 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Bookings: (03) 9925 1717/ rmit.gallery@rmit.edu.au
Free admittance. RSVP essential. No reserve seating.