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The tradition of the new: David Chisholm comes back to The Sound Barrier to chat about BIFEM!

The Sound Barrier for Sunday 23 July 2017

It may seem a difficult thing to reconcile a passion for avant-garde and experimental music with a nostalgic love for tradition, but the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music is one thing that allows me to do it.

The passion for the avant-garde is gloriously inulged by what has become surely Australia's leading festival of new music, now in its fifth year, and continuing, as it has each year so far, to explore exciting new works from artists and composers both locally and from around the world. It is a weekend in central Victoria that offers opportunities for total immersion in new music: short works, long-form works, works that engage sound and space and vision and head and soul and body in a depth that just isn't possible after a busy day of work or study or worry and a rush through city peak hour traffic.

And the love for tradition is gratified by the way that every year, BIFEM's Founding Artistic Director and CEO, David Chisholm, comes into PBS to talk with me about it.

And this week's edition of The Sound Barrier is, once again, where these two delightful threads cross each other, as David talks through some of the amazing highlights of this year's Festival, the programme of which was just launched on Thursday night this week, with the Festival itself kicking off, as it always does, in the first weekend of September.

As well as talking with David about the huge diversity of music in this year's Festival, with a particular emphasis this year on works that engage with electronics, and from composers you will no doubt know to some you probably won't, I'll also be featuring some music by some of them: some percussion from Iannis Xenakis that will be part of this year's Cushion Concert for pre-school children; a work for organ and electronics by Australia's Keith Humble, whose music for piano and voice will be part of a special tribute this year to mark the 90th anniversary of his birth; and a work by Polish-born, German-based, composer Wojtek Blecharz, whose music was first featured in BIFEM in 2015 as it will be again this year in the Australian premiere of his Phenotype for prepared and amplified violin.

A new and especially exciting feature of this year's BIFEM will be its Monash University Composers' Concert, showcasing the works of a whole bunch of emerging student composers. I'll be presenting music by three of these young artists on this weekend's show: Kevan Atkins, Sam Harvey and Noemi Friedman. It's an exciting and encouraging sign of where music is headed, and of how alive and vibrant its future promises to be.

This weekend's edition of the show will be my last for a month as I head off again, next week, to Kürten in Germany for more Stockhausen study. And so, in yet another confluence of the avant-garde and tradition, I'll be ending the show with one of the pieces that will be performed at the nightly concerts that are part of the biannual Stockhausen Courses and Concerts: the darkly humorous LUZIFERs ZORN ('Lucifer's Fury') in a recording by the artists who premiered the work and who will be performing it again this year at Kürten: bass, Nicholas Isherwood and actor, Alain Louafi.

I hope you can join me this Sunday night at 10.00 PM (AEST) when the new and the traditional collaborate with The Sound Barrier's annual chat with the amazing, the delightful, and the indefatigably adventurous, David Chisholm. You can listen on your radio at 106.7 on Melbourne's FM band or on PBS digital radio, or you can listen live from anywhere in the world via the PBS app or online. The show is also available as an audio stream, online, along with the full playlist, shortly after it has gone to air.

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