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





ELISION Ensemble enthrals audience with world-line cycle

Peter Neville, percussion, ELISION Ensemble

Peter Neville, percussion, ELISION Ensemble. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography.

The ELISION Ensemble performance at RMIT Storey Hall on 30 April was totally, viscerally enthralling. And the musicianship superb!! The Australian premiere of Richard Barrett’s world-line cycle and the energetic, kinetic performance enthralled a full house at RMIT Storey Hall. We are still on a high. 

Tristram Williams, trumpet, ELISION Ensemble

Tristram Williams, trumpet, ELISION Ensemble. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography.

ELISION, Australia’s International Contemporary Music Ensemble are Daryl Buckley, electric lap steel guitar; Tristram Williams, trumpet; Peter Neville, percussion.

The three movements of Richard Barrett’s world lines were commissioned for the RMIT Sonic Arts collection. ‘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.

As we were recording the performances for the RMIT Art Collection, the doors were shut during the performance and the audience was respectful of the event – not one cough, not one shuffle, not one mobile phone beep. Perfection!

Daryl Buckley, electric lap steel guitar, ELISION Ensemble

Daryl Buckley, electric lap steel guitar, ELISION Ensemble. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography.

Audiences also heard Timothy McCormack’s Heavy Matter, featuring Ben Marks, on solo trombone, and Liza Lim’s Weaver of Fictions featuring Genevieve Lacey, on solo Ganassi recorder. What pleasure in hearing – and watching – these consummate performances. Ben Marks, on trombone, performing Timothy McCormack’s Heavy Matter. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography.

Ben Marks, on trombone, performing Timothy McCormack’s Heavy Matter. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography.

Genevieve Lacey, on solo Ganassi recorder, performing 2.Liza Lim’s Weaver of Fictions. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography.

Genevieve Lacey, on solo Ganassi recorder, performing 2. Liza Lim’s Weaver of Fictions. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography.

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.