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During the interval, artworks by Edward Essing will be displayed. Read more here
Liu Tianhua 刘天华
Chloe Chung Dreambox Collective Artistic Director, stop motion animation
Amos J pipa
Edward Essing visual artist
Jolin Jiang voice
Pavle Cajic piano
Dreambox Collective acknowledges the many Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and honour their Elders past and present. We are privileged to gather on this Country and through this online meeting space to share knowledge, culture and art now, and with future generations.
Welcome from the Artistic Director
Welcome to “The Sky’s the Limit”, the final concert in our 2021 season, “A Friend of Mine”. We are gathering today to reflect on access to education in Australia, and the impact it has on all of us as individuals and as a society. As many of us have had a unique experience of education either here in Australia or overseas, in collaborating for this concert our Dreambox artists created pieces that highlight the value of teachers in our society and offer a glimpse into music teaching in particular.
With the #morethanthanks strikes and movement mobilising this week, we want to acknowledge the breadth of work that the teachers in our communities have provided us. Whether you are a lifelong student or a teacher yourself, we hope you’ll come out of today’s concert understanding how we can elevate the profession of teachers in our lives, and in Australia.
We’re also proud to be donating a portion of our profits to Children’s Ground, an organisation working with Aboriginal communities to create a world in which children and families can enjoy lives of opportunity and agency, free of economic poverty, through a multitude of platform areas including learning and wellbeing.
With the five new pieces by our Dreambox Collective artist team, and interview with guest speaker Hannah Morris (who has been an inspiration to me personally since she was my English tutor in high school), we’re thrilled to share Zoom-space with you tonight, and hope you find it an oasis of reflection and appreciation for the future of Australia’s teaching landscape.
Dreambox Collective Artistic Director
Notes on the music
Jolin Jiang Shanghai Streets: Sinan Road
Pavle Cajic piano
This piece is from a piano suite, Shanghai Streets, which I have had the honour to be working on under the mentorship of Dr Daniel Rojas at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Sinan Road is a tree-lined avenue in the former French Concession (FFC) area in Shanghai. Nowadays, Sinan Road, and the FFC in general, are known for their quiet beauty during the day, and the vibrant vibe at night, with a huge variety of cool restaurants, concept bars, boutiques and galleries. Twenty years ago, however, it was where I would walk from my primary school to “home” (my parents’ office), and to/from my piano and singing teachers’ places.
Setting a nostalgic yet appreciative mood in the French impressionist aesthetic, this piece incorporates some non-conventional harmonies, a skill that I have, gratefully, started to develop during my learning with Dr Rojas. The entire piece paints an imagery of me walking on the Sinan Road reflecting on my childhood and growth, and my love and gratitude towards this street. The instrumentation and the singable melody symbolise my own musical education growing up, whereas the middle section of the piece, which features a melody in the minor pentatonic scale, hints at my Chinese upbringing in this area.
Jolin Jiang What I Have Learned: A Brief History of Chinese Philosophical Knowledge
Jolin Jiang voice, visuals
Featuring an excerpt from Yunyutian by Jolin Jiang, Amos J and Billy Han
Earlier this year, I visited Rylstone in NSW, and saw the cabin that my partner’s late father built all by himself. I was amazed by how much one single person can do, and the wisdom and the strength one possesses in order to build things. I was fascinated by the fact that a person is able to encapsulate experience into knowledge, and then share the knowledge with others and future generations.
I asked myself: why does the human species value efficiency so much? Why do we constantly build and make changes to our living environment so that it is more convenient and “better”?
They are questions I do not have answers to; but reflecting on them, I am grateful to all people and their knowledge that have made positive influences on the way we live for the modern, safe life I am able to have now. I decided in my piece I wanted to share my experience of some key Chinese thoughts and texts that I remember learning from the prehistoric period up to the modern era in China. These feature thoughts from the four main schools of philosophy including Confucianism, Taoism, Mohism and Legalism. These have shaped my perspective and values as a person who grew up studying in China, then Australia from Year 10. It was fun to read the quotes and use the Ircam Trax plug-in by Flux to alter my voice reading the philosophical quotes, and you’ll be hearing me speak both in English and Chinese.
Musically, I incorporated the materials and sounds that correspond to each historical period, from stones and tree branches for the prehistoric period, to keys on a mechanical keyboard, mouse clicks and plastic bags in the modern era. The middle section of the composition features a pre-composed piece that I collaborated on this year, which to me reflects Confucian and Taoist aesthetics, entitled Yunyutian. In this piece, the guqin was played by Amos J and the xiao was played by Billy Han.
Chloe Chung Lagtime Piano: Black Notes, White Notes, and Everything in Between
Chloe Chung concept, stop motion animation
Alexis Weaver sound design
Pavle Cajic piano, origami
Featuring students of the piano studios of Katarina Grobler and Pavle Cajic including Khushi, Ananshi, Astrid, Ollie, Rosemary, Nishika, Cosi and Bella, Luc, and Kiah
Featuring excerpts from Champagne Rag by Joseph F. Lamb, arranged by Denes Agay
This is a collaborative piece in which I wanted to reflect the very freshly lived experience of so many students and teachers moving from online teaching and learning to face-to-face coming out of Sydney’s second lockdown. The interviewees are the young piano students of Dreambox artists Katarina Grobler and Pavle Cajic, who were recorded about a week after their return to face-to-face learning in October. I wanted the tactile sound of popular children’s handclap games that evoke so much nostalgic memory for me to connect the common threads of the interviews, weaving their fragmented experiences together. This was mixed in with the delightful dashes of Champagne Rag (a piece I am still slowly learning today!); I asked Pavle Cajic to play it in multiple different ways, including to improvise upon it, which he did to much delight. The audio material was wonderfully designed, assembled and mastered by Alexis Weaver, my collaborator in hand clapping games and helping me fulfil my creative vision perfectly – thank you!
Making the stop motion animation was a thoroughly enjoyable process as well; I wanted it to reflect many of the themes and disjunctures – this stop-start-ness learning online and fragmented snapshots briefly revealing the diversity of student experiences behind the black Zoom screens.
Pavle Cajic One Step at a Time
One Step at a Time is a musical depiction of the process of sequential learning: step by step, building on simple foundations, humanity has developed wondrous bodies of knowledge. The music is an expression of this idea on multiple levels. Firstly, in its structure: musical lines enter, one by one, cycling through the same material as more and more lines are added, building a texture in which you can eventually no longer clearly distinguish the separate lines, as they combine into a holistic experience of “understanding”.
In the way the music builds itself up layer by layer, it teaches the listener how it is constructed. In the way I composed the music layer by layer (in the order in which they are heard) I gradually discovered possibilities in the musical material that had been seeded by the first layer. In the way the layers get progressively more complicated, they signify a progression through the stages of learning, from somewhat formulaic foundations to more expressive artistry and creativity. I decided to base two of the layers on scales and arpeggios, in homage to the basic patterns that almost all music students are taught (and have a love-hate relationship with!). Finally, once 7 layers have entered, and the core body of knowledge is in place, the opportunity comes to break free, and enjoy – the full, joyous expression of yourself!
Liu Tianhua 刘天华 Xulai 虚籁 (Meditation)
Amos J pipa
Xu 虚: faded, empty
Lai 籁: music normally associated with nature often used as tian lai 天籁, meaning “heavenly music”
This piece bears strong meaning for me. It was the very piece that got me admitted to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, as well as the first piece I performed in the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Verbrugghen Hall as a guest performer a few months before I decided to start a new page of my life being a Master’s student in Sydney.
It also resembles my journey of learning the pipa as well, starting slow and calm. Eventually, new techniques and rhythms start to emerge which reflect the many stages of my journey and finally reflecting my current state of life which is back to being calm and relaxed.
I have learnt this piece through two different mentors. The skills and techniques were taught by my dear Professor Shuyin 舒银 of Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the philosophy of life and knowledge were taught by my dear Dr Liu of Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Both played a very important role in educating me as a pipa player and as an individual through this piece, which made me the person that I am today.
Reflections on the visual artwork
After the pandemic closed my art school in early 2020 I began to paint my immediate surroundings: directly from life, and typically outdoors. Having to move three times over the last year and restrictions on going out challenged my ability to find subjects at first, but ultimately the experience brought many lessons. I’ve learnt how to better manage the impermanence of nature and adapt to its conditions; with limited options I was forced to become more comfortable with subtle changes of light and the range of native flora, as my subjects became whatever I could get.
Chloe Chung is an innovative cross-cultural flautist, playing Western classical flute and dizi (Chinese bamboo flute), teaching music, and collaborating with others to foster unexpected musical forms and connections throughout Sydney. Her passion for creativity, sustainability and education are central to her work as an active performer, teacher, and emerging creative director.
A passionate educator, Chloe is currently Academic Lecturer of Flute at AIM (Australian Institute of Music), and Sydney Conservatorium High School. At the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, she teaches dizi, performing regularly with the ensemble. In 2019, Chloe founded the Dreambox Collective.
Amos J completed a Bachelors Degree in Performing Arts at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 2018 under Associate Professor Shuyin 舒银. He is currently a post graduate research student in the Master of Music (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under Dr Catherine Ingram and pipa virtuoso Ms Liu. Amos was recently was student representative of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music attending the SEADOM (South East Asian Directors of Music) conference in Jogjakarta. He is also the first Malaysian pipa scholar to be admitted into the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Edward Essing is a visual artist drawing from nature to create clear images. Currently living and working in Hornsby, NSW. In 2018 he was offered the William Fletcher Scholarship, Julian Ashton Art School, where he currently continues to study, paint and teach.
Equipped with 18 years of classical musical training in Shanghai and Sydney, Jolin Jiang is a passionate composer, orchestrator, pianist, singer, guqin player and music teacher who expresses music with her cross-cultural personality and artistic instincts. Jolin’s current musical style is influenced by her international upbringing, her love for music in the Romantic era, 19th century French music and traditional Chinese music. Her compositional focus is on storytelling, portraying landscape, nature and emotions using both Western orchestral instruments and electronic sounds. In 2018, Jolin was selected as one of the finalists for San Francisco International New Concept Film Festival.
Awarded the Excellence Scholarship from the Australian Institute of Music, she is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Composition and Music Production, with a special interest in Chinese ethnomusicology.
Pavle Cajic is a composer and pianist currently living and creating on Gadigal land (Sydney). His reasons for composing are varied - often, as an outlet for feelings or responses to art or the people and world around us that are too special to be forgotten - other times, for the purpose of bringing people together in ensemble works to experience the joy collective music making!
Pavle graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a degree in piano performance in 2016. He has learnt from Australian composers, conductors and pianists such as Tristan Coelho, Trevor Pearce, Brad Gill, the late Richard Gill, Natalia Sheludiakova, Paul Rickard-Ford, and Nikolai Evrov, as well as from his inspiring peers and collaborators. He has performed his own and other’s music on piano or as conductor in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and Norway. He has been particularly supported in the creation and performance of works involving solo violin by Norwegian violinist Ole Bohn.
Pavle is involved in a number of initiatives using music as a vehicle for social change or justice, including being a core member of the organisational team for the Voces Caelestium Charity Concerts, led by conductor TaeSoo Kim, and an original member of the Dreambox Collective. He also regularly performs with Chloe Chung as the flute-piano ‘Sidere Duo’.
Pavle’s time away from music is spent studying physics with occasional diversions into mathematics, doing origami, and practicing activism often with the grassroots Stop Adani and Extinction Rebellion movements.
Guest speaker: Hannah Morris
Hannah has received a Bachelor of International and Global Studies and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Sydney, where she served as a Board Director and President of the University of Sydney Union. She is also an alumnus of Teach For Australia’s Leadership Development Program, where she taught English and Humanities at a low socioeconomic school in Darwin, Australia whilst concurrently completing a Master of Teaching from Deakin University on scholarship. As Director of Customer Success for social venture High Resolves, she launched a suite of online education products that developed young people’s citizenship and leadership capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, she is admitted as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and has interned as a children’s lawyer with the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.
She is currently a Master’s in Education (Education Leadership, Organizations and Entrepreneurship) candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Education, due to graduate in 2022.