VC WEB BLOG | Richard Tognetti - “The Reef: A Musical-Surfing Odyssey” [BLOG]


The Violin Channel recently caught up with Australian Chamber Orchestra Artistic Director and Lead Violinist, Richard Tognetti - to discuss the ensemble's newest celebration of surfing, film and live music.

In a VC-exclusive blog, the violin virtuoso and avid surfer talks us through the ACO’s newest visual and sonic project: ‘The Reef’ - set to premiere this week in Sydney, Los Angeles, New York and Richmond, Virginia.

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Within all of us is the capacity for wonder. In some, it just lies dormant.

“Most serious matters are closed to the hard-boiled. They are un-practised in introspection, and therefore badly equipped to deal with opponents whom they cannot shoot like big game or outdo in daring...the hard-boiled are compensated for their silence: they fly planes or fight bulls or catch tarpon...”

(from Saul Bellow’s narrator in Dangling Man)

...or surf.

And a surfer does require a certain hardboiled-ness; try staying in the water as a three-metre tiger shark saunters by in Western Australia! – Anyone who reads the news will appreciate the need for that stiff exclamation mark after those two words.

Art is one portal to notions existing beyond the material, and The Reef attempts, among other things, to bring a sense of existential awe and wonder to the hard-boiled – while trying to boil away perceptions that ‘classical music’ is seemingly only for those boiled soft.

The dreams of many have come from out of the mighty realm of north Western Australia, where the desert is unleashed into the sea. A fertile release of our imaginations has been sparked by our fleeting encounter, in May 2012, with this land and ocean, and is transformed onto the screen by Jon Frank and Mick Sowry, in an account more representative of a painter than a storyteller.

The Reef follows on from 2008’s Musica Surfica and 2011’s The Glide. Its journeys are at once personal and universal.

Surfer and wanderer Derek Hynd possesses legendary gifts, including an uncanny ability to confront exploding exteriors (on a finless surfboard) and collapsing interiors. We are then dared to comprehend these elements and mould them into the wonder of art.

The personal odyssey of The Reef begins with Hynd’s own – traversing across our continent east to west, against the earth’s regular flow of storms, in a black, a coal-black beast of a vehicle.

The story finishes with, and encompasses, the universal, as we are left in wonder at the dizzyingly apparent proximity of the desert stars and beyond into the abyss.

But what of the music and why the need to project images?

Through the art of universal synchronisation, one is offered the possibility of hearing more in images and seeing further into music.

Our musical universe ranges from our 42,000 year old Indigenous culture with the restorative music of Stephen Pigram and Mark Atkins and the cohesive force of Iain Grandage; through to remnants of a surf culture that was driven by grunge in the 90s; lurching forward to the sublimely gruesome Ramifications of Ligeti and transcending to the holy grail of J.S. Bach.

It also includes Orawa by Wojciech Kilar, best known for his music in Roman Polanski films and a fine composer in his own right, Rameau’s Entr’acte, Suite des Vents, the un-worldliness of George Crumb, Soviet Shostakovich, and Russian Rachmaninoff.

We conclude with Beethoven’s Cavatina, written as tears and ‘beklemmt’ (anguish) flooded his score.

We invite you into our dreams, as this music sings to the elements of the natural environment and forms a sonic dialogue with the mysterious and wondrous dance-art that is surfing.

- Richard”


Australian Chamber Orchestra The Reef Richard Tognetti Surfing



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