Music for 18 Musicians - SA Premiere

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Tomlinson, Vanessa
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Elder Hall, University of Adelaide


Research Background: Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich was given the South Australian premier on March 13 in David Sefton’s R.C.C 2020 at the University of Adelaide, performed by Soundstream, the University of Adelaide’s New Music Ensemble-In-Residence, directed by Professor Vanessa Tomlinson and presented by Soundstream in partnership with the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Recitals Australia and Sia Furler Institute. Given the work’s mass popularity and influence on new music culture since 1978, the sold-out event attracted a diverse audience of 600 who packed into Elder Hall for this history-defining performance. Research Contribution: I first performed/directed a performance of Music for 18 Musicians as part of my Doctoral Research at UCSD in the late 1990’s. My first performance was the first performance by an ensemble other than Reich’s own ensemble, I have written extensively about the 3 month development of the work from sketches of the score and transcriptions from recordings. Since this time I have directed the Australian premiere in Brisbane in 2003, and revisited the work regularly in the intervening years. This experience has given me the expertise to train up a group of musicians in a short about of time, prioritising development of ensemble groove, warnings about problem areas, and a development of mutual trust. In this performance I took on the role of musical director and performer on xylophone 2. Research Significance: This performance has become significant as the final large scale performance in Adelaide before lockdown due to Covid-19. Before the performance I mentioned to the performers that this might be the final large-scale performance we do for a long time, and the emotional energy that was brought to bear on the performance was breath-taking. The event received funding support from partnerships with The Australia Council, Arts SA, David Sefton and RCC Fringe, Recitals Australia, University of Adelaide, and Soundstream New Music.

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Tomlinson, V, Music for 18 Musicians - SA Premiere, 2020