The music in this concert will all be invented on the spot by all the musicians on stage, led by Dr Robert Davidson, the head of composition in the UQ School of Music. Some improvised coordination will be assisted by techniques of "Sound Painting" in which hand gestures communicate various instructions, facilitating some coordination and varying of textures.

Improvisation in a large ensemble requires particularly keen awareness, and above all, listening. Developing these skills is a long-term process, and focuses on recognising and imitating pitches, rhythms, harmonies, pulses and many more musical elements. Another key skill is dealing with inhibition and fears that might be associated with the unknown. This is often experienced by classical musicians after spending many years intensely concentrating on perfecting performances in great detail, with much repeated practice of every phrase in a composition. The complementary, and sometimes risky, skill of spontaneous invention is something that was very prominent in classical music performance in earlier centuries; the most highly-prized composers, for example, were often better known in their own time as improvisers than as composers, and soloists would be expected to improvise cadenzas in concerti. It’s interesting to note that leading classical musicians around the world are giving a lot of attention once more to improvisation, and frequently notice that working on improvising also greatly benefits their carefully prepared performances of repertoire.

Today’s concert embraces the excitement of venturing into the unknown, with everyone in the room hearing the music for the first time.


Zelman Cowan Building,St Lucia, Brisbane
The Nickson Room