“virtuosic and adventurous” New York Times
Speak Percussion has shaped the sound of 21st century Australian percussion music through the creation and presentation of ambitious arts projects. Internationally recognised as a leader in the fields of experimental and contemporary classical music, Speak are constantly seeking to redefine the potential of percussion.
Ranging from solo concerts to massed sound events, Speak Percussion’s “breathtakingly impressive” (The West Australian) work is presented throughout the world in concert halls, theatres, galleries and site-specific locations.
Speak Percussion have been responsible for over 100 commissions and premieres of new percussion works, Speak Percussion has contributed new 21st Century masterworks to the global percussion repertoire.
Speak Percussion engages in world-class, risk-taking and innovative projects with many of the world’s leading exponents of experimental and new music. Such artists include Steve Reich (USA), Ilan Volkov (ISRAEL), The Necks (AUS), Tony Buck (AUS), Liza Lim (VIC), Oren Ambarchi (VIC), Chris Corsano (USA), Ingar Zach (NO), Mark Applebaum (USA), Richard Barrett (UK), Juliana Hodkinson (DE), Jon Rose (AUS), Eyvind Kang (USA), Bent Sørensen (DK), Steven Schick (USA), Fritz Hauser (CH), Michael Pisaro (USA) and Robin Fox (VIC).
National touring appearances include MONA FOMA (TAS), Tectonics – Adelaide Festival (SA), Totally Huge New Music Festival (WA), Performance Space (NSW), Brisbane Powerhouse (QLD), Judith Wright Centre (QLD) and Canberra International Music Festival (ACT).
Currently Speak Percussion tours internationally on average twice annually. Touring projects have included CIRCUIT (2013), TRANSDUCER (2013) and Fluorophone (2015) which have toured to some of the world’s leading festival’s and venues including Maerzmusik (Germany), SONICA (UK), Barbican (UK), Tage für Neue Musik, Zurich (Switzerland), TIPC (Taiwan), Salihara (Indonesia), CONNECT (Sweden), ARENA (Latvia), GAIDA (Lithuania), Batteries IV (Switzerland) and Café OTO (UK).
Speak Percussion has had multiple major projects featured in Melbourne Festival. For the 2013 Melbourne Festival, Speak realised a new interpretation of Gerard Grisey’s electro-acoustic percussion sextet The Black of the Star in collaboration with RMIT’s SIAL Sound Studios and the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science department. For the 2015 Melbourne Festival Speak performed the world premiere performance of Michael Pisaro’s ‘A wave and waves’ for 100 performers in 2015, which topped Artshub’s ‘Best of the Performing Arts’ 2015 list.
Key to Speak Percussion’s success has been the development of long-term artistic relationships spanning multiple compositions. This has allowed Speak to work on an increasingly deeper level with collaborators across a period of several years. With Fritz Hauser (Switzerland), Speak Percussion has developed six major projects from 2004-2012, including a chamber opera, installation, notated works and spatial improvisations in festival contexts in Australia and Switzerland. From 2004-2011 Speak commissioned works from Anthony Pateras ranging from solo through to twelvetet, released multiple recordings, performed on the feature length film Errors of the Human Body and performed his work in four continents. With Thomas Meadowcroft and James Rushford, Speak has commissioned and recorded multiple works and presented them in prestigious contexts such as MaerzMusik (Berlin Festspiele), Adelaide Festival and Taiwan International Percussion Convention.
Speak Percussion has three times been awarded an AMC/APRA Art Music Award, most recently taking the 2017 award for Excellence by an Organisation. Speak has won a 2014 Green Room Award for Fluvial and won Best Music in the 2012 Melbourne Fringe Festival for it’s large-scale robotics project Automation. Speak’s Artistic Director Eugene Ughetti, over the past five years, has amassed significant recognition through receiving an inaugural Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship, MCA/Freedman Fellowship for Classical Music (2011), the OZCO Creative Fellowship ‘Early Career’ as well as twice being a finalist in the Melbourne Prize for Music.
In 2011 Speak Percussion established a prestigious national Emerging Artists Program focussing on new chamber music and experimental music practice. Every year since then a group of Australia’s brightest music talents have come together to develop new work alongside Speak Percussion and an international guest artist. So far such guests include Mark Applebaum (Stanford University, USA), Richard Barrett (Sonology/UK), Kroumata (Sweden), Eighth Blackbird (USA) and Thomas Meadowcroft (GER/AUS).
More recently, Speak Percussion launched Sounds Unheard, a program for gifted and talented secondary school music students. Sounds Unheard is a free music education program running continuously from 2015-2017, which is triennially funded by the Department of Education and Training. It offers a range of music education opportunities, from performance through to online content, that develops students’ skills and inspires through innovative approaches to music making.
Since 2017, Speak has been running ‘Bespoke’, a free professional development program tailored to the specific needs of Australian artists, ensembles and arts workers. The program delivers a suite of resources including rehearsal space, instruments, one-on-one time with key Speak staff, internships and creative development opportunities directly to the most deserving and needy in the professional arts community.