Music Makers: ANAM & Elision

In 2024 the iconic contemporary music ensemble, ELISION, comes to work with ANAM musicians as part of ANAM’s 2024 ‘listening weeks.’ Listening weeks allow ANAM musicians to work closely with some of the finest musicians in a closed and collaborative environment. This year, we’re delighted that ELISION comes to ANAM to share their extensive knowledge and experience of contemporary culture, collaborative projects and new music. ELISION Ensemble Artistic Director, Daryl Buckley, gives us the low down of what ANAM musicians can expect this year.

Photo by Lauren Murphy.

How do we as musicians grow and take ownership of our own sound? This very personal responsibility is a constant evolving process; and as such, it is always underpinned by questions of who we are and what we are doing as musicians.

Contemporary classical music is a great vehicle for these explorations. It links us to provocative and at times unsettling aesthetics and more often than not, the concerns of our time. Improvisation can be an amazing creative laboratory, a space for play, discovery and serendipity, that can also enliven notational music. This ELISION residency is quite deliberately entitled LISTEN.


All things – humans and the ecological systems of our planet – can be considered to have ‘personhood’. Perception is a reciprocal act – as we listen, we are listened to; as we touch/see/act we are also touched, seen and acted upon. Everything has a way of inhabiting and co-creating the world with particular registers of sensation and meaning. Another word for these expressive worlds of knowing and meaning is SONG.


Our bodies ground us to the world of perception. To understand ourselves as musicians we need to attune to our physical being and to the choreographic potentials of INSTRUMENT and BODY.


At the heart of listening is community or ENSEMBLE. We develop perspectives beyond the individual ego by giving space to companions within a purpose directed framework.

A major highlight of the ELISION residency will be ANAM musicians working on Liza Lim’s Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus, a 40 minute work for 15 musicians and conductor. The work considers the vast conglomerations of plastic trash circulated in the world’s ocean currents, eventually ground into toxic fragments that sediment on remote islands and within the fish we eat. Our everyday rubbish gives shelter to hermit crabs as acid waters dissolve their former shell habitations. Albatrosses scoop up plastic packaging to feed chicks that choke and starve as they ingest colourful non-food. Like plastic waste, time and its traces remain in residual and pulverised states. Liza has made music out of relics of the past – a coarse sampling of ‘extinction events’ ranging from the spectral echoes of a creaking 19th century piano music, to a faulty transcription of a recording of the last mating call ever heard of the now extinct Kauai O’o bird; and, she has drawn upon the uncanny dawn chorus of the fish-life that populates endangered Australian coral reefs.

Other highlights will include ANAM musicians engaging with structured improvisation, partially composed spaces that they can extend further, develop and bring their sonic discoveries, interests and passion for transforming sound, listening to each other and responding in the moment.

The ELISION team consists of Peter Veale, Deepa Goonetilleke, Benjamin Marks, Alex Waite, Kathryn Schulmeister, Peter Neville, Daryl Buckley and conductor Aaron Cassidy. Other ELISION personnel present include Tristram Williams and composer Liza Lim.

Over its nearly 40-year history, ELISION has transformed from Australia’s premiere new music ensemble to an international ’supergroup’, with a 17-strong membership that includes some of the world’s leading musicians, who through their performances, recordings and publications have redefined contemporary instrumental technique. The ensemble has focussed its practice on exploring and expanding musical possibilities, establishing an international reputation through engagement with complex and virtuosically challenging aesthetics, a unique instrumentarium, and rare and authoritative long term artistic collaborations with composers.

Words by Daryl Buckley, ELISION Ensemble Artistic Director
Photo by Lauren Murphy

First published in volume 50 of Music Makers.


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