“The most trouble Richard Tognetti ever got into was for doing nothing.” The Guardian
In 2010, during my time as Artistic Director of Slovenia’s Maribor Festival, plans to mount a lavish production of The Magic Flute were thwarted by financial issues. I had a mere three days to come up with an alternative. I called the administration with a proposal: “I know what to do… Nothing.”
I suggested that entry would cost nothing, but that patrons would have to pay to leave. The program would include John Cage’s 4’33 of ostensible Nothing, and a singer wearing Nothing.
In one work, videographer Jon Frank went to a hospice in India to film individuals on the threshold of dying. The results were chilling and elicited strong reactions from the audience. While it couldn’t be considered a success, it’s the thing people remember most from my days at Maribor: “the year you did Nothing”.
Now, I am embracing the prospect of delivering Nothing once again with my program for Chamber Landscapes at UKARIA – this time not because of financial issues but rather with joyful, planned intent.
The concept of nothingness has intrigued humanity for centuries. At its simplest level, Nothing refers to the lack of Anything or the non-existence or absence of Something. But its meaning goes far beyond absence.
Philosophers have argued that nothingness is a fundamental aspect of human existence and experience, while scientists have found quantum fluctuations in empty spaces that have led some to suggest there is no such thing as true nothingness. In everyday life, the concept of nothingness can liberate by allowing us to let go of attachments, or paralyse through fear of the unknown.
Whether viewed as a fundamental aspect of reality or a mere absence, nothingness remains an intriguing concept that continues to challenge our understanding of the world and ourselves.
No matter how hard we try to present you with Nothing, we cannot succeed. But try we shall.
Richard Tognetti is Artistic Director and Lead Violin of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He performs on period, modern and electric instruments and has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras as director or soloist. He was Artistic Director of Slovenia’s Festival Maribor from 2008 to 2015 and was the first Artist-in-Residence at the Barbican Centre’s Milton Court in 2016. He has created and co-composed scores for films including Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and collaborated with director Jennifer Peedom to create the films Mountain and River.
DOBBY (Rhyan Clapham) | Vocals
DOBBY is a true force of nature, with his electrifying live performances leaving audiences spellbound. As a rapper, drummer, composer and producer, he brings a dynamic and powerful energy to his live shows delivering an experience like no other. Proudly identifying as a Filipino and Aboriginal musician, DOBBY's roots run deep in the Murrawarri and Ngemba lands of Weilmoringle and Brewarrina, NSW. He has performed at major festivals across Australia and international events. DOBBY has composed soundscapes for PARRTJIMA 2021 & 2022 in Alice Springs and his music was the driving force behind Elevate Sydney 2022 & 2023. His song "I CAN'T BREATHE" won Best Video at the FBi SMAC Awards in 2020 and has been used in schools to educate students on the struggles faced by marginalised communities. DOBBY was awarded the 2022 NIMA Archie Roach Foundation Award.
David Greco | Baritone
Internationally regarded for his recordings of Schubert lieder and the cantatas of J.S Bach, ARIA Award-nominated baritone David Greco was the first Australian singer in 2012 to be appointed a position with the Sistine Chapel Choir in the Vatican, Rome. Now an acclaimed interpreter of opera and concert work, he appears regularly with Australia’s finest orchestras, most recently in Britten’s War Requiem with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and in Verdi’s Requiem with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs at the Sydney Opera House. David’s PhD in 19th century Historical Voice led to ABC Classics recordings of Schubert’s Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin with early keyboardist Erin Helyard. David is a Lecturer in Voice and Opera at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Sharon Grigoryan | Cello
Sharon Grigoryan was with the Australian String Quartet from 2013-2020. Prior to this, she was a member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, and has been guest principal cellist of many Australian orchestras. From 2011 Sharon toured regularly with the ACO, and has also toured with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. She has performed with the Australian World Orchestra since 2015, and plays in a duo with guitarist Slava Grigoryan. She is currently Associate Principal cellist with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
Louis Hurley | Tenor
Tenor Louis Hurley’s repertorie spans the Baroque through to the 21st Century and is currently Pinchgut Opera’s inaugural Humanity Foundation Taryn Fiebig Scholar, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Louis has most recently appeared with the Sydney and Mellbourne Symphony orchestras, Melbourne Opera, the Song Company, Castalia Vocal Consort, Vocal Detour, and Cantillation. Whilst studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Louis was a member of the Guildhall Consort under Eamonn Dougan.
Professor Craig Jeffrey | Speaker
Professor Craig Jeffrey is Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) and Professor of Geography at Monash University. He is an anthropologist and geographer who works on youth, education, and social change in contemporary India. He has written eight books, including Timepass: Youth, Class and the Politics of Waiting in India and Modern India: A Very Short Introduction.
David Jones | Drums, Percussion
David Jones, a drumming luminary, is creating an indelible mark on the global music scene. His exceptional artistry and rhythmic prowess have earned him the prestigious Melbourne Prize, a testament to his influential contributions. David's innovation shines through two captivating drumkit concertos composed especially for him; seamlessly fusing genres and pushing artistic boundaries. With a career spanning decades, his impact resonates worldwide, inspiring and innovating; an icon of creativity, exploring new sonic horizons.
Chloe Lankshear | Soprano
Chloe Lankshear is a versatile soprano who made her professional operatic debut in 2018 with State Opera South Australia in their production of Brett Dean’s Hamlet. She has since been a featured soloist with some of the country’s finest organisations, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Haydn Ensemble, Pinchgut Opera, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Canberra Symphony Orchestra and most recently her debut with Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House. In 2021, Chloe was named the inaugural Taryn Fiebig Scholar with Pinchgut Opera and was featured in their film A delicate fire. In 2022, Chloe was a finalist at the Bel Canto singing competition and was awarded the Decca Prize. In 2023, she was the First Prize winner and People’s Choice Award recipient of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Oratorio Competition.
Hanna Lee | Viola
Violist Hanna Lee made her solo recital debut at Kumho Art Hall in 2004 for the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation. Since then, she has performed numerous recitals, and in recent seasons she has soloed with the KBS Symphony Orchestra, Korean Symphony, Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Jungen Symphony Orchestra and the Sung Nam City Orchestra. Audience Magazine in Korea chose her as one of the ten “New Generation Artists”. Hanna is a member of Kumho Soloists, Ensemble Opus, Koreana Chamber Music Society, and Ola Viola. As a member of the Kallaci String Quartet, she has toured in Korea and abroad. She is on faculty at Korean National University of Arts, Yonsei University and Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts. Hanna first played as a guest with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in 2019.
Donald Nicolson | Piano, Organ, Harpsichord
Listed among Australia’s best classical performers by the ABC in 2019, harpsichordist, synth artist, organist, composer and arranger, Donald Nicolson is a prominent figure in performance and research of the music of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe. A PhD in Musicology at the University of Melbourne in 2018, an avid reader of the classics Donald teaches historically-informed performance practice at the University of Melbourne. Donald is equally at home in front of the harpsichord, synthesizer, or looper, with an extensive discography ranging from William Byrd to the Balkans to John Psathas.
Li-Wei Qin | Cello
Chinese-Australian cellist Li-Wei Qin appears world-wide as a soloist and chamber musician, and has appeared with all the BBC symphony orchestras, the LA, London, Hong Kong, Osaka, China and NDR Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestras, Berlin Radio Symphony and Konzerthaus Orchestra, La Verdi Orchestra Milan, ORF Vienna Radio Orchestra, Prague Symphony, the major Australian symphony orchestras and the Munich, Manchester, Zurich and Australian Chamber Orchestras.Li-Wei’s recordings include Beethoven Sonatas, Rachmaninov with Albert Tiu, and the Dvořàk, Elgar and Walton cello concertos.
Konstantin Shamray | Piano
Australian based pianist Konstantin Shamray has garnered a reputation as an exhilarating performer with faultless technique and fearless command of the piano. Here in Australia Konstantin enjoys working with its leading orchestras and at the most prestigious concert halls. Season highlights include concerto performances with the Sydney and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, recitals at Sydney Opera House Utzon Room, Melbourne Recital Centre and the UKARIA Cultural Centre amongst many other engagements. Konstantin looks forward to his return to Chamber Landscapes as part of the Adelaide Festival enormously.
Katherine Tonkin | Actor
Katherine Tonkin has worked as a writer, creator, and performer with a number of Australia’s leading mainstage and independent theatre companies including Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, Griffin, Bell Shakespeare and Black Swan State Theatre Company. With many screen credits to her name, Katherine is known for working across a diverse range of mediums, having appeared in live works for the ACO, Lucy Guerin Inc, Chamber Made Opera, as well as large scale immersive works. Her collaborations have taken her to Arts Festivals across Australia and overseas, and she is delighted to be returning to her home town of Adelaide for the Festival.
Satu Vänskä | Violin, Vocals
Born to a Finnish family in Japan, violinist Satu Vänskä has developed an international profile through her role as Principal Violin with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, a position that she has held for the past twenty years. Satu is also successfully developing solo violin projects reflecting her desire to continually evolve as a musician and to courageously embrace new musical challenges. This season, she will appear with the Melbourne and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras in addition to recitals at Melbourne Recital and UKARIA Cultural Centre amongst other highlights.
Carmen Warrington | Meditation Artist
Carmen Warrington is a multifaceted artist, known for her holistic approach to art and spirituality. She is globally recognized for her meditation recordings and best-selling inspirational books. Her ethereal crystal bowl Soundbaths offer audiences deep relaxation and a sense of wellbeing. Carmen is actor-trained at NIDA, and through her many collaborations with partner David Jones, she seamlessly merges music and spoken word to uplift, inspire and create an atmosphere of peace and transformation.
Kristian Winther | Violin
Kristian Winther is widely recognized for his ability to perform as a virtuosic violin soloist and as an energetic and brilliant chamber musician, seeking musical challenges performing classic, contemporary and rare works. As a violin soloist, Kristian has appeared with Australia’s leading orchestras and as a devoted chamber Kristian has collaborated with some of the world’s leading artists including Anthony Romaniuk, Daniel de Borah, Anne Sophie von Otter, Angela Hewitt, Steven Osborne, Anna Goldsworthy, Richard Tognetti, Satu Vanska, Brett and Paul Dean, and Konstantin Shamray.
Emma Woehle | Alto
Emma Woehle has extensive experience as an opera and concert performer, gracing stages in Australia and overseas. Her expansive career of over 25 years has been filled with various roles including the title role of Tancredi to critical acclaim in the Australian premiere of the Rossini opera with the Australian Opera Studio. She has also performed internationally as Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Maddalena (Rigoletto), to name a few. Since returning to Australia, Emma has performed predominantly concert works, including Mozart’s Requiem, the Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas), Bach’s St John Passion, Verdi Requiem, Dvořák Stabat Mater and Duruflé Requiem. Emma performs regularly with the Adelaide Cantata Band and and is a core member of the Adelaide Chamber Singers. Emma is also performing in Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and other Fables at the 2024 Adelaide Festival.
Caleb Wright | Viola
Caleb Wright is the Principal violist of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. He began his studies in Adelaide with Keith Crellin, Melbourne with Alice Waten and Berlin with Wilfried Strehle. Caleb began his professional career in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Following this he began roles as principal, holding positions in the West Australian Symphony, Adelaide Symphony and Malaysian Philharmonic. He is a passionate Chamber musician and teacher.
Tom Wright | Dramaturg
Tom Wright has written for the stage for thirty years. He was Associate Director of Sydney Theatre Company 2004 to 2012 and has been Artistic Associate at Belvoir Street Theatre since 2015. His plays and translations include A Journal of the Plague Year, The Lost Echo, The Women of Troy, The War of the Roses, Picnic At Hanging Rock, The Real & Imagined History of The Elephant Man, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and Black Diggers. He hosted Breakfast with Papers at Adelaide Festival for seven years and is regularly heard as reviewer and commentator on ABC Radio National.