2015 – Whispered Shadows … Underground Flute meditations
Darwin Underground Festival presents:
Whispered Shadows … Underground Flute meditations
Venue … WW2 Oil Storage Tunnels, Darwin, Sunday 16th & 17th August 2015
2017 UPDATE … There’s another much larger Darwin Underground Festival this year from the 13th to the 17th August with 5 completely different concerts. Full details can be found here
In a remarkable divergance from usual venues … the ‘stage’ or performance area was only 1 metre deep by 172 metres wide/long! The remaining space mainly taken up by audience with their BYO chairs. The performers traversed the length of the tunnel past audience members who had placed their chairs randomly along the 172 metre tunnel #5, giving each listener a totally unique experience.
“Anja Tait is a remarkable musician to work with. Her depth of musical vocabulary and maturity of expression within a spontaneously improvised work was full of surprises, depth, and playful joy. I never knew what was coming next. A true delight to bounce off! Bringing young Emily into the ensemble in the second gig provided dynamite to the mix. A fantastic journey. Thank you Anja and Emily.” … Anne
To accompany this underground event, visual artist Rupert Betheras exhibited works of dripping bitumen mounted beside the oozing rusty walls of the tunnel. He also placed several blackboards on the tunnel walls and supplied chalk for spontaneous graffiti contributions. In one piece by the two adventurous violinists, the sounds of eager chalk strokes striking the boards joined their plucked strings, voices and booms of kicking feet on the iron cladding of the tunnel walls. Amazing what two classically-trained violinists do when set free underground.
“The tunnels’ acoustics are total magic!”
A good pair of headphones is highly recommended for the best listening experience.
Here are some highlights from each concert.
Performance 1 … 16th August 2015
Solo shakuhachi with guest artist Anja Tait (violin)
A mix of solos and duos
Anne Norman … shakuhachi
Anja Tait … violin
Improvisation 3 … with Anja Tait violin and 1.3 shakuhachi (in G)
Impro 3 … Tunnel#5 Darwin 16thAug2015 – 8.4mins
Murasaki Reibo 紫鈴慕 … by Ikkyuu Sojun (1394-1481)
Murasaki Reibo … Tunnel#5 Darwin 16thAug2015 – 4mins
Ikkyuu was an eccentric monk of 15th century Kyoto, who lived an itinerant life outside the temples, infamously hanging out with prostitutes, tavern folk and fishermen, celebrating the essence of Zen wherever he was. He also attracted the company of the leading artists of the day, and through him, Zen mind became central to many Japanese art forms: Visual arts, poetry, comic verse, Noh theatre, tea… He taught this flute piece as a way for the player to focus their mind on each breath, each sound, each phrase. A way to still the mind of other thoughts.
Performance 2 … 17th August 2015
Violin and shakuhachi with Emily Sheppard and guest artist Anja Tait
Apart from Annes solo ‘Whispered Shadows’ … the 2nd concert on Monday night was an evening of
spontaneous duos and trios,
Anne Norman … shakuhachi
Emily Sheppard … violin
Anja Tait … guest violin
the Tunnel … WWII Oil Storage Tunnel #5 (172metres)
Blackboards and chalk … used percussively in the 2nd concert impros.
Breathing Planet … field recording
Whispered Shadows … 1.8 shakuhachi (in D) by A Norman 2014
Whispered Shadows … Tunnel#5 Darwin 17Aug’15 – 11.5mins
a bone, a leaf, a stone, an echo, a shell, a seed, a twig, a feather… a shadow
Showcasing Annes unique new playing technique …
Elements of this piece began in 2012 within the echoey walls of La chapelle Sainte Philomene, a crumbling 11th century stone chapel perched on a hill in an encroaching forest in Provence. The composition was completed amidst mountain woodlands and windswept beaches on Flinders Island, Bass Strait, in 2014. It departs from traditional shakuhachi performance techniques.
Walking through a forest … along a beach … I see echoes of repeated patterns; whispered shadows of ideals;
spirals, circles, lines, curves … No two waves break with the same ripples or sound;
and no two flowers are identical. Yet all are perfect.
2nd Half – Duo & Trio Improvisations
2nd half -Duo & Trio Impros … Tunnel#5 Darwin 17Aug’15 – 28.8mins
… With the audience still buzzing noisily following the interval … Emily, then Anja, began loudly banging chalk against the blackboards like a teacher trying to quell a rowdy class … then turning it into a percussion piece to begin the ‘2nd Half’.
The Impros include a movement called Sleeping Dragon using my (David Matthews’) recent field recording: Breathing Planet – the uncanny sound of air blown and sucked through tiny nostrils in the bauxite coast of NE Arnhem Land as ocean swells gush in and out of air-filled rocky caverns. Quite a scary dragon breath-like sound when amplified by a long tunnel.
tidal rhythms course through my body
echoes of the ocean
of the living planet
an eternal ebb and flow
a breathing in and out
At the last minute, Darwins ABC became interested in the Tunnels event … & invited Anne To contribute to their website’s ‘ABC Open … Real stories made by real people from all round Australia’. https://open.abc.net.au/explore/107291