Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Skip to main content

Ensemble Offspring: Songbirds Program content

Music | Daylight Express

Ensemble Offspring: Songbirds

Dates: 14 Mar 2024
Venue: Elder Hall, The University of Adelaide
Duration: 1hr, no interval
Note: Latecomers will be admitted at a suitable break in the performance.

Presenting Partner:



Program Note
About Ensemble Offspring

Adelaide Festival is committed to sustainability and does not offer printed programs for most works. Our digital show programs have a contents section for easy navigation. 




Claire Edwardes, Artistic Director, percussion
Lamorna Nightingale, flutes
Jason Noble, clarinet, bass clarinet




Fiona Loader 
Lorikeet Corroboree (2015)

Brenda Gifford 
Mungala (Clouds) (2018)

Nardi Simpson 
Of Stars and Birds (2020)

Hollis Taylor & Jon Rose 
Bitter Springs Creek 2014 (2019)

Felicity Wilcox 
People of This Place (2016)

Hollis Taylor & Jon Rose 
N’Dhala Gorge (2014)

Gerard Brophy 
Beautiful Birds (2019)
   2. Flamingos
   3. Hummingbirds

Robert Davidson 
Magpie Riff (2024)



Program Notes

Fiona LoaderLorikeet Corroboree (2015)
flute, clarinet, vibraphone

This work scored for flute, clarinet and vibraphone was written for Ensemble Offspring in 2015 during a residency at the Sydney Conservatorium. It was inspired by the beautiful rainbow lorikeets that visit me every morning and who dance after a feeding frenzy. This led me to many hours of documenting bird call and transcribing melodic fragments derived from not only lorikeets but also other Australian birds including butcher birds, magpies, and even a nightingale (also a musical reference to Lamorna Nightingale, our flautist). There is much melodic dialogue between the parts in Lorikeet Corroboree just as birds in the forest do not sing in isolation but in melodic collaboration, by answering each other’s musical sentences.

Brenda Gifford
Mungala (Clouds) (2018)
alto flute, percussion

Mungala is the word for clouds in composer Brenda Gifford’s Yuin country, the South Coast of NSW. The music evokes the experience of watching the clouds build across the sea from a clifftop at Wreck Bay. The clouds dance across the sky bringing thunder and then the relief of gentle rain.

Nardi SimpsonOf Stars and Birds (2020)
flute, clarinet, vibraphone

Of Stars and Birds was written after an invitation to contribute to Ensemble Offspring's birdsong collection. As a new composer in the earliest development stages of my craft, I worried how my work would stand alongside the pieces of experienced, accomplished composers who had already contributed to this series. As an Aboriginal musician with limited music theory, I also worried if I could create something of a standard suitable for the ensemble and its project partners. In times like this I look to culture to provide guidance. I quickly realised Yuwaalaraay knowledge, connection and relationship to birds equaled the complexity and detail of advanced musical theory, compositional practice and creative conception. So I worked hard to imbue this piece with the things I know well, cultural concepts and knowledge, enabling a transformation away from a commissioned composition and into an extension of my own lived and practiced cultural experience.

Of Stars and Birds developed then from a significant Yuwaalaraay story ending in the creation of the southern cross but traversing the enormity of land, lore, death and rebirth. Birds weave this story into our dreaming cosmos, the conventional limitations of earth, sky, death, day, life and night dissolving and creating its own universe of existence- a bit like my compositional craft, a mixture of traditions and teachings, an extension of the storytelling and songmaking of Australia’s First People’s and the explorations and expressions of a new composer at the beginning of an exciting musical journey.

Hollis Taylor and Jon Rose
Bitter Springs Creek 2014 (2019)
flute, clarinet, vibraphone, electronics

The road from Alice Springs heading out to the East Ranges runs in fits and starts for 80 kilometres before ending at Ross River. The pied butcherbird recording heard in and transcribed for this composition was made at Bitter Springs Creek, 6.6 kilometres before the road terminates. These feathered songsters were recorded nocturnally on 17 August 2014.

Bitter Springs Creek 2014 belongs to the twenty-first century, to be sure, but the music sung by these birds is ancient, extending back millions of years. Although they may share some phrases, each bird has their own unique songs that develop and transform from season to season. A degree of what we may describe as improvisation pertains to each performance, and this quality of flexibility is key to the work.

Felicity Wilcox
People of this Place (2016)
bass clarinet solo

This work for solo bass clarinet is an expression of my sense of shared place. It contains multiple influences that reflect the echoes of nature and the blend of lives lived in this beautiful country of birds, bush, grasses, sandstone and sea. D'harawal man Gawain Bodkin-Andrews (UTS CAIK) was consulted on the creation of work that considers Indigenous spaces and perspectives, and research was conducted with leading Australian clarinettist Jason Noble to develop new approaches to multiphonics and other extended performance techniques for the instrument. The resulting work is a valuable addition to the recent Australian solo bass clarinet repertoire that has enjoyed multiple performances nationally and internationally over the past 3 years. In presenting People of This Place, the composer and performer acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as traditional owners of the land that inspired it, and to whom the work is dedicated. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging, and to all Aboriginal people.


Hollis Taylor & Jon Rose 
N’Dhala Gorge (2014)

Gerard Brophy
Beautiful Birds (2019)
flute, bass clarinet, vibraphone

Beautiful Birds showcases birds in three distinctive movements, with two of these movements featuring in this program:

2. Flamingos – elegant, stately yet slightly melancholic creatures;
3. Hummingbirds – fluttering, quivering souls flitting from one gorgeous blossom to the next.

A true exploration of the trio’s virtuosity, Beautiful Birds sets these joyous bird calls into dexterous, interwoven lines. While Lyrebirds establishes the piece as a highly energy celebration of sonic colours, Flamingos explores delicious and still moments of quiet conversation between the three instruments. The piece finishes with Hummingbirds, mimicking the fast yet ever changing humming in an impressive display of swift-flying unison lines.

Robert DavidsonMagpie Riff
flute, bass clarinet, vibraphone, tape

Each morning and afternoon, I get to hang out with magpies on my balcony - a group of three we like to call 'the teenagers'. They make a splendid sound; it's one of my favourite sounds that exists. I remember the excellent Melbourne composer Warren Burt telling me the reason he originally moved to Australia from his home in San Diego. On his first landing in Australia, he got off the plane and heard a magpie, and immediately said "I've got to move here. I want to live in a country where the birds sound like synthesisers!" (or words to that effect).

This little piece gets musicians to play along with two short phrases, looped throughout the music, picking out a catchy riff from a magpie in an Australian front yard (trying to eat some cheese on the ground), with some percussion added to keep everyone together with the recording. The magpie recording, made by Digifish Music, is used with permission.



About Ensemble Offspring

Ensemble Offspring are Australia’s leading new music group, standing at the forefront of musical innovation. Led by internationally acclaimed percussionist Claire Edwardes OAM, the ensemble unites the country’s most fearless and virtuosic instrumentalists. Together, they create “visceral, joyous music” (Sydney Morning Herald) through kaleidoscopically varied performances that blaze a trail for Australian music. 

At the heart of Ensemble Offspring’s mission is an unwavering commitment to the creation and dissemination of living new music. Since forming in 1995, they have commissioned and premiered over 350 new works, solidifying their position as the foremost champions of contemporary music in Australia. In particular, they actively promote underrepresented voices including female-identifying, First Nations, and emerging artists. This dedication has earned the ensemble the 2022 Classical:NEXT Innovation Award, the 2019 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Group Award, multiple APRA Art Music Awards and a 2019 ARIA Award nomination.

Ensemble Offspring’s annual development programs are an essential pillar of Australia’s musical ecosystem. Hatched Academy is an incubator for emerging Australian artists which nurtures the next generation of cultural leaders through a composer intensive, individual mentorships, and an associate artist position; the Noisy Women Commission amplifies the voice of an exceptional female-identifying or non-binary composer; and the First Nations Composer in Residence and Ngarra-Burria: First Peoples Composers programs elevate the music of Indigenous artists, foregrounding their rich cultural perspectives.

By boldly subverting classical traditions, Ensemble Offspring deliver concerts that “burst with imagination, energy and inspiration” (Seesaw Magazine). Through their pioneering spirit, pursuit of excellence and relentless commitment to equality, the ensemble continue to shape a vibrant and diverse future for Australian music.

“In a music industry that can often feel impenetrable - most of all for marginalised voices - its mission is not just honourable, but essential. In other words, it is not just doing the right thing, it is doing what’s necessary for the survival of new music in Australia.” – Cut Common




Claire Edwardes OAM 
Artistic Director, percussion

From the set of Play School to the mainstage of the Sydney Opera House, Claire Edwardes OAM is the only Australian to have won the APRA Art Music Luminary Award four times. Claire leaps between her role as Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring and concerto performances with all of the Australian orchestras. She has been the sole Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring for seven years and previously was co-director with composer Damien Ricketson for almost 10 years. She has over 25 years experience as a professional percussionist and is acknowledged as a long-term leader in Australia's musical landscape. Having built her career on the development of innovative projects and programs, Claire has presented and produced music at many levels of the Australian and international music scenes. She is a committed advocate of gender equity in music.

Lamorna Nightingale 

Lamorna Nightingale is a freelance flautist, concert presenter, educator and publisher who is passionate about the future of art music in Australia. She is a core member of the new music group - Ensemble Offspring and has been performing with them since 2007. Lamorna has many years experience working in the orchestral sector performing regularly with many of Australia’s finest ensembles. Lamorna has created several recordings of new Australian flute music with repertoire selected to suit flute players with less experience with new music. She created Other Voices, an album of new Australian music for flute and electronics with an associated education kit designed to introduce school students to electroacoustic music. Lamorna has also created several pedagogical volumes of repertoire for young flute players through her publishing company, Fluteworthy.

Jason Noble 
Clarinet, bass clarinet

Jason Noble is one of Australia’s most versatile clarinettists – experimental to classical – a soloist and core member of Ensemble Offspring. Jason has performed at festivals locally and internationally. His album releases include THRUM (2020) and Chi’s Cakewalk (2017). He has also made guest appearances on albums for Gurrumul, Sally Seltmann, ABC Classics, Gondwana Voices, Paul Mac, Halcyon, SICKO improvising orchestra, and the Tiwi women’s choir Ngarukuruwala. He performed at the Adelaide Festival in Incredible Floridas, curated by Kim Williams, appearing as soloist with the Australian String Quartet. Jason collaborates with living and emerging composers, and is an in-demand music educator and examiner. Presently Jason is a teaching fellow at ANU School of Music.


From Adelaide Festival & Partners

Partnering for Conservation

Adelaide Festival and Wilderlands currently safeguard 3,424m² of the Coorong Lakes habitat.

Help us reach 5,000m² by claiming your free 1m² by 22 April 2024 - take action here.