In this engrossing acoustic-electronic work composer Erkki Veltheim morphs history with contemporary culture: Morse code played on colonial piano spells out the world’s most retweeted tweet of January 2015, reflecting our universal obsession with trivia.

Telegraph is inspired by the first piano to arrive in Alice Springs at the Telegraph Station via Oodnadata, on the back of a camel. The telegraph line is translated onto the keyboard by utilising the distance in Hertz between the lowest and highest notes of the Telegraph piano (which has 85 keys or 7 octaves), which roughly equals the distance in kilometres of the Overland Telegraph Line. Metaphorically, the keyboard thus traverses a line between Port Augusta and Port Darwin, with Alice Springs being signified by the pitch Eb4.

The pianist is a machine, performing a precise code on colonial piano over an hour against an intense and changing electronic landscape.

Essay by Charles Shafaieh

‘I fully surrendered to this stream of music, created only in the Anglo-Saxon world and its postcolonial and immigrant mix of cultures that absorbed Zen, LSD experiences, poetry and prose, beatnikov, Indian music, late John Coltrane and many more.’
– Robert Kolář, Music of Today, Bratislava 2018

“I wanted to use this message to reflect the connection between the need to repeat Morse messages at repeater stations across large distances and the obsessive retweeting of
meaningless messages on social media. The Overland Telegraph Line revolutionised communications between Australia and the rest of the world, at the time meaning mainly London, facilitating the delivery of urgent and important messages.

The rise of social media messaging represents a new kind of communication revolution, which has repurposed each one of us as a repeater station of trivial bits of information. We are now struggling not with the speed and reach of data, but rather its excessive volume, as it saturates our lines of communication in an endless and ever-accelerating cycle of self-generated regurgitation.”

– Erkki Veltheim

Erkki Veltheim

Photo by Sabina Maselli

Erkki Veltheim

Erkki Veltheim (b. 1976 Finland) is an Australian composer and performer. His practice spans noise, audiovisual installation, improvisation, notated music, electroacoustic composition, pop arrangements and multidisciplinary performance.

Erkki has been commissioned by the Adelaide Festival, Vivid Festival, Australian Art Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Musica nova Helsinki, and his works have been performed by groups such as the London Sinfonietta, defunensemble, Soundstream Collective, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He composed the orchestral works for celebrated Australian indigenous musician Gurrumul’s posthumous album Djarimirri, which won 4 ARIA Awards and the 2018 Australian Music Prize. Other recent projects include audiovisual performance work Another Other (2014/2016), with co-creators Anthony Pateras, Natasha Anderson and Sabina Maselli, commissioned by Chamber Made Opera, and audiovisual installation Fusion of Tongues (2015), commissioned by Punctum and La Maison Folie, Belgium, for ‘Mons 2015 – European Capital of Culture’ program.

Erkki has performed with the Australian Art Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Elision, Ensemble musikFabrik and Ensemble Modern. He is a member of the improvising trio North of North with trumpeter Scott Tinkler and pianist Anthony Pateras, and has a long-standing collaboration with the visual artist Sabina Maselli. He has also played with many musicians from a wide range of styles and backgrounds, including Amanda Stewart, Stephen Pigram, William Barton, Mike Patton, Mark Atkins, Shane Howard, Cat Power, Jon Rose, Paul Grabowsky, Wadada Leo Smith, Han Bennink, Mark Atkins, Bae Il Dong, Brett Dean, Robin Fox, Clocked Out, Anthony Burr and Chris Abrahams.

Gabriella Smart

Gabriella Smart

Pianist Gabriella Smart is one of the leading advocates of new music in Australia – through performance, improvisation, collaborative composition, commissioning and curation. She is the recipient of three prestigious awards in 2019: The Paris Residency and an Artist Grant from The Australia Council for the Arts, and a South Australian Government Creative Fellowship. In 2018, she was awarded a Prelude Composer Residency and a UNESCO City of Music residency in Katowice, Poland. Gabriella received a Churchill Fellowship in 2010, and a Helpmann Award in 2009. As an improviser, she has collaborated and performed with such luminaries as Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance, Academy Award winner for film music: The Gladiator), Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes), Alvin Curran, Cat Hope, Derek Pascoe and Johannes Sistermanns as part of the UnPiano Trio, and Paul Grabowsky. With a background as a multi-award winning pianist specialising in classical and new music, Gabriella has performed extensively in Australia and internationally, premiering over forty new works for solo piano by Australian and international composers in Australia, Europe and China, and collaborating with musicians as diverse as Brett Dean, Elena Kats Chernin, Erkki Veltheim, Jon Rose, and Tamara Anna Cislowska.

Gabriella’s performance of Alvin Curran’s solo For Cornelius was described as ‘meltingly beautiful’ and ‘mesmerising’ (The Australian). She has performed widely as a soloist throughout Australia, and internationally, promoting the works of Australian composers. Gabriella has performed in the Melbourne and Adelaide International Festivals, MONA MOFO, TURA (Perth) and in Europe and China. In 2010, she represented Australia at the World Expo in Shanghai. Gabriella has given numerous live and recorded broadcasts for ABC Classic FM.

October 16, Bratislava 2018
Bratislava Music Academy Hall, “Music Today” Concert Series

July 15, Adelaide Australia 2018
Beaumont House, Adelaide

June 29, Perth, Australia 2018
Tura, Perth, TURA New Music Concert Series

April 22, Melbourne Australia 2018
MLIVE, Monash University, Melbourne

April 13, Adelaide Australia 2018
Adelaide Central School of Art (World Premiere)

Constantine Koukias

Constantine Koukias
Foundation IHOS Amsterdam

Phone +31 6 49894484