As Brisbane shut down during COVID-19 and the city fell silent, artist and composer Lawrence English discovered a new and expanded sense of the sonic in everyday life.
The extrasensory current of sound running through the city inspired The Listening Études; a series of performances and sound installations as part of Brisbane Festival. “During that initial period of lockdown, the roads emptied, the skies emptied and suddenly sound’s capacity to travel was seemingly ten-fold,” Dr English said. “Having lived in my neighbourhood for more than a decade, I heard things I’d never heard before.
“These experiences really refreshed me, they made me realise that it’s so easy to become comfortable with the sounds of the everyday and sometimes we need these little ruptures to remind us to listen deeply again.” In curating The Listening Études, Dr English assembled leading sound artists and musicians to stage site-specific work across Brisbane, from the lush calm of South Bank’s Rainforest Walk to the sparse concrete of Windsor’s Eildon Hill Reserve to the old-world charm of The Old Museum.
Wild Energy is a free multi-channel outdoor installation by Annea Lockwood and Bob Bielecki that uses inaudible vibrations to expand the capabilities of human hearing, playing daily amid South Bank’s Rainforest Walk from 4 – 26 September.
Percussionist Vanessa Tomlinson unleashes the raw power of the tam-tam gong across a series of free Percussion at Dusk concerts at Eildon Hill Reserve, Highgate Hill Park and South Bank’s River Quay on 5, 19 and 26 September.
The world premiere of Wallpaper Music IV sees composer Erik Griswold engineer a “retuned” piano to present a transfixing and transcendental performance at The Old Museum on 13 September.
A triple bill of solo performances featuring Vanessa Tomlinson, Robin Fox and Lawrence English performs MONO: Offsite, featuring The Old Museum’s 19th century organ on 6 September.
Gabriella Smart will draw on deep reserves of stamina and style when she performs durational work Inner Cities, a five-hour piano cycle by American composer Alvin Curran at The Old Museum on 20 September.
Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina said The Listening Études encouraged people to stop, focus on their listening and explore the city anew as it reawakens this September.
“Our ears can reveal a different world to the one we experience with our eyes and tell us so much more about where we live,” Ms Bezzina said.