GUITARCHESTRA will feature 100 guitar players in unison without prior rehearsal

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GUITARCHESTRA will feature 100 guitar players in unison without prior rehearsal

Words by Sam McNiece

A part of the Adelaide Guitar Festival.

Australian composer Matthew Timmis is no stranger to creating interesting music installations and performances. His 2013 work for Sydney Festival consisted of 12 cars blaring their stereos together aptly named Car-cophony. In this new artistic endeavour, Timmis is calling on amateur and semi-professional guitarists to perform live with 100 others without prior practise.

What you need to know:

  • GUITARCHESTRA is the new project from composer Matthew Timmis as a part of the 2021 Adelaide Guitar Festival.
  • In the project, 100 guitarists and bass players will perform in unison without ever practising together.
  • You can hear it in person on 11 and 12 September, 2021 in Port Adelaide, Australia.

Keep up with our music tour and festival news here.

“The electric guitar has obviously become such a big part of music and culture since its invention,  so I think hearing it in this unusual context should be pretty interesting,” says Timmis. “The idea also came from thinking about the relationship between performers and audience, being at a concert and thinking ‘what if the audience all bring their instruments too?” and also hearing lots of guitarist in a guitar shop all playing at the same time, creating really interesting sound collages.”

GUITARCHESTRA is an Open Space Contemporary Arts event which is part of the Adelaide Guitar Festival. An inter-generational electric guitar ensemble will perform a sound work ranging through all ages and abilities. The event is a celebration of the worlds obsession with the electric guitar and the large scale performance will invite players from all walks of life.

The response so far has been overly positive, with “participants from teenagers up to people in their 70s. Word of mouth has played a big part in finding people but, for all its negatives, social media has actually allowed us to find lots of people we wouldn’t have been able to connect with otherwise. ”

Guitarists and bass players can practise the predetermined piece beforehand but will have no opportunity to rehearse with each other prior to the event, performing the experimental sound work which may prove very interesting.

On this, Matthew had to say, “part of the process of this piece is leaving things partly open, so to some extent I don’t know exactly what will happen, every performance will be slightly different. The players have a degree of freedom over what they play and how they play it.

“The piece uses ‘time brackets’, an idea dreamt up by John Cage. The players follow a stopwatch and have musical material to play within sections of time, but when they play it in the section is up to them. With a big group of people this creates giant clouds of sound, less like most traditional music and more like being in the middle of a flock of cockatoos. Only these cockatoos are rockin’ it out.” Very cool.

GUITARCHESTRA will be performed on September 11 and 12, 2021 in Port Adelaide, Australia.

Check out the gig on the Adelaide Festival website.