In 2010 Kim Chalmers, Max Allen, James Erskine of Jauma wines and Eugene Ughetti from Speak Percussion put together a series of fascinating and fun events and tastings around Music and Wine how the two can affect each other’s perception and testing the innate and cognitive links between hearing and taste. Since then Chalmers has supported the unique and exciting work of Speak Percussion as their official wine partner.
Speak Percussion debut performance was in 2000, performing as part of Musica Viva’s Menage Series to sold‐out crowds and receiving glowing praise from critics. “…sent the audience once again into a frenzy. It was power playing at its best” (The Age, 2000). From the beginning, Speak Percussion’s primary focus has been to develop close relationships with living composers from Australia and abroad. This has led to Speak to working with many of the world’s leading exponents of new music, including Steve Reich (USA), Liza Lim (AUS), Mark Applebaum (USA), Richard Barrett (UK), Jon Rose (AUS), Bent Sørensen (DK), Fritz Hauser (CH), Michael Pisaro (USA) and Robin Fox (AUS).
Key to Speak Percussion’s success has been the development of long‐term artistic relationships spanning multiple works. With Fritz Hauser (Switzerland), Speak Percussion has developed six major projects from 2004‐2012, including a chamber opera, installation, notated works and spatial improvisations in festival contexts in Australia and Switzerland. From 2004‐2011 Speak commissioned works from Anthony Pateras ranging from solo through to twelvetet, released multiple recordings, performed on the feature length film Errors of the Human Body and performed his work in four continents. With Thomas Meadowcroft and James Rushford, Speak has commissioned and recorded multiple works and presented them in prestigious contexts such as MaerzMusik (Berlin Festspiele), Adelaide Festival and the Taiwan International Percussion Convention.
Early on, Speak Percussion began engaging with artists from diverse disciplines in cross artform collaborations. Notable collaborators include architects Boa Baumann (Schallmachine 06, Schallmachine Maximus, Speak & Unspoken) and Büro Architects (Chrysalis), chef Glenn Flood (Pasta Percussion), new media artist Robin Fox (TRANSDUCER) and the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science Department (The Black of the Star).
From 2003‐2012 collaborations with Aphids Inc. occurred with David Young, Rosemary Joy and Willoh S. Weiland. Such projects included Schallmaschine Kleine (Melbourne International Arts Festival 2006), Yakumo Honjin (Japan/Australia), Exile, System Building (China, The Netherlands, Sydney, Melbourne, Germany) and The Box.
International touring began in 2005 with a twelve‐city tour of Europe performing exclusively Australian music. Speak now regularly tours to many of the world’s leading festivals and venues including Maerzmusik 2013 (Germany), SONICA 2015 (UK), Tage für Neue Musik 2015 (Switzerland), Café OTO (UK), TIPC 2014 (Taiwan), Salihara 2014 (Indonesia), CONNECT 2014 (Sweden), ARENA 2014 (Latvia), GAIDA 2014 (Lithuania) and Batteries IV 2013 (Switzerland).
In 2011 Speak Percussion established a prestigious national Emerging Artists Program focussing on new chamber music and experimental music practice. Each year a group of Australia’s brightest music talents now come together to develop new work alongside Speak Percussion and an international guest artist. Guest artists have included Mark Applebaum (Stanford University, USA), Richard Barrett (Sonology/UK), Kroumata (Sweden), Eighth Blackbird (USA) and Thomas Meadowcroft (GER/AUS).
In 2015 Speak Percussion launched Sounds Unheard, a free music education program for secondary school music students. It offers a range of music education opportunities, from performance through to online content, that develops students’ skills and inspires through innovative approaches to music making.
Speak Percussion has twice been awarded an AMC/APRA Art Music Award, including the 2014 State Award for Excellence by an Organisation, the 2012 Melbourne Fringe Festival Best Music Award for it’s large‐scale robotics project Automation and a 2014 Green Room Award for Fluvial.