“Synergy is the finest contemporary music group in Australia, and I am proud to be associated with it” Peter Sculthorpe, 2008
Synergy Percussion has the dual distinction of being Australia’s oldest and foremost contemporary music ensemble. A world of sound with percussion at its heart, the group celebrates 40 years of concerts, collaborations, recordings and commissions during 2014. Over four decades of huge cultural change, Synergy Percussion has remained vital and fiercely committed to defying expectations of what percussion music might aptly express. Core members Timothy Constable, Bree van Reyk and Joshua Hill are all award-winning and internationally acclaimed exponents of new music in their own right, equally at home on world-music stages, contemporary/experimental art venues, pop concerts and recital halls.
The ensembles’ expansive vision of percussion, together with the exceptionally wide musical experience of the members past and present, has allowed the group to work together with a diverse and exemplary family of artists from around the world. Collaborators include Fritz Hauser, Hossam Ramzy, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Aly N’Diaye Rose, Trilok Gurtu, Jose Vicente, Kazue Sawai, Dave Samuels, Evelyn Glennie, Riley Lee, TaikOz, Michael Kieran Harvey, Sydney Dance Company, Meryl Tankard and Regis Lansac, Akira Isogawa, Grainger String Quartet, William Barton, and the Leigh Warren Dancers, the Sydney and Melbourne Symphony orchestras among many others.
Well over fifty commissions of Australian and international composers has helped create an Australian percussion sonic identity, and contributed to the canon more generally. Notable commissions include Steve Reich Mallet Quartet (2009, the most significant percussion work of the composer post Drumming of 1971), Anthony Pateras Beauty will be amnesiac or will not be at all (2013, the most ambitious Australian concert work for percussion), Nigel Westlake Omphalo Centric Lecture (1984, statistically the most performed classical percussion ensemble piece in the world), Ross Edwardes Prelude and Dragonfly Dance, Peter Sculthorpe Sun Song, Djilile, Gerard Brophy Book of Clouds. The group also commissions internally, and works by ensemble members have been performed internationally to high acclaim.
The group has contributed to education programs at most of the Australian state capital music schools, in particular supervising percussion ensemble postgraduate coursework at the Australian National University. Also of note are the two percussion ensembles derived from the Sydney Youth Orchestra percussion sections, and the Annual “Young Artist in Residence” mentorship program.
Recent performance highlights include the annual Giants series of recitals, presenting masterworks for percussion ensemble: Steve Reich Mallet Quartet (2010), Iannis Xenakis’ Pleaides (2011), Masterpieces of Time (Handel, Cage, Monteverdi, Ligeti, Bach) (2012), Pulse:Heart:Beat Live (2013). These concerts have netted three nominations and one win of Limelight Magazine’s chamber music concert of the year award.
In 2012 Synergy Percussion curated The Composers #1: Steve Reich in Residence at the Sydney Opera House concert hall, with the composer in attendance for a week of workshops, rehearsals and sell-out performances.
Recent Festival appearances include Tongyeong International Music Festival (2011), Seoul Drum Festival (2011), Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Canberra International Music Festival (2013), Augusta Raurica (Switzerland).
Synergy Percussion launched the 2011 YouTube Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House, presenting the opening concert, and mentoring the percussion section towards the gala performance, watched by over 33 million people worldwide.
Other Performance highlights include:
- Performances at the French bicentenary in Paris (1989)
- The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (1990)
- ‘Synergy with Synergy’ – a collaboration with Sydney Dance Company which toured Japan and Taiwan (1989)
- Festival of Asian Arts Hong Kong (1994)
- Wellington International Festival of Arts (1994)
- Premiere Carl Vine’s Symphony no. 5 ‘Percussion’ with Sydney Symphony
- Performances as focal group at the Global Cultural Diversity Conference in Darling Harbour attended by Boutris Gali
- Taipei International Percussion Convention (1996)
- Stockholm International Percussion Event (1998)
- Budapest Percussion Festival (1999)
- Singapore Festival of the Arts (1999)
- World Expo Hanover (2000)
- Melbourne Festival (2001)
- La Batie Festival Geneva/Basel, switzerland (2001)
- Warsaw Percussive Arts Festival (2001 and 2005)
- Brisbane Biennial Festival (2001 and 2003)
- ‘Mulan’ – with Sydney Dance Company (Shanghai 2005)
- Commonwealth Games Arts Festival - Percussion Spectacular, Myer Music Bowl (Melbourne 2006)
- Synergy Percussion has performed at the opening of several major venues including the Australian Museum (2001), the Singapore Concert Hall (2005), the Shanghai Arts Centre (2005)
- Different Beat Festival (Basel, Switzerland 2007)
- Tucson Chamber Music Festival (USA 2008)
- Schallmaschine Maximus (Basel, Switzerland 2013)