Synergy percussion has the dual distinction of being Australia’s oldest and foremost contemporary music ensemble. A world of sound with percussion at its heart, the group celebrated 40 years of concerts, collaborations, recordings and commissions in 2014. Over four decades of huge cultural change, Synergy Percussion has remained vital and fiercely committed to defying expectations of what percussion music might aptly express. Core members Timothy Constable, Bree van Reyk and Joshua Hill are all award-winning and internationally acclaimed exponents of new music in their own right, equally at home on world-music stages, contemporary/experimental art venues, pop concerts and recital halls.
The ensembles’ expansive vision of percussion, together with the exceptionally wide musical experience of the members past and present, has allowed the group to work together with a diverse and exemplary family of artists from around the world. Collaborators include Fritz Hauser, Hossam Ramzy, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Aly N’Diaye Rose, Trilok Gurtu, Jose Vicente, Kazue Sawai, Dave Samuels, Evelyn Glennie, Riley Lee, Taikoz, Michael Kieran Harvey, Sydney Dance Company, Meryl Tankard and Regis Lansac, Akira Isogawa, Grainger String Quartet, William Barton, and the Leigh Warren Dancers, the Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras among many others.
Well over fifty commissions of Australian and international composers has helped create an Australian percussion sonic identity, and contributed to the canon more generally. Notable commissions include Steve Reich Mallet Quartet (2009, the most significant percussion work of the composer post drumming of 1971), Anthony Pateras beauty will be amnesiac or will not be at all (2013, the most ambitious Australian concert work for percussion), Nigel Westlake Omphalo Centric Lecture (1984, statistically the most performed classical percussion ensemble piece in the world), Ross Edwardes prelude and dragonfly dance, Peter Sculthorpe Sun Song, Djilile, Gerard Brophy Book of Clouds. The group also commissions internally, and works by ensemble members have been performed internationally to high acclaim.
Synergy Percussion has a proven track record of successfully creating and executing education and outreach programs aimed at encouraging young people from all walks of life to engage with music. The group has contributed to the education programs at all major tertiary music institutions across the country, including supervising the post-graduate percussion program at the Australian National University. The ensemble has enjoyed a long-standing collaboration with Musica Viva to deliver such programs to students across Australia, the most recent being the highly successful Under Construction with composer Damian Barbeler. Members of the group also mentor young musicians through the Sydney Youth Orchestra’s Percussion program and through the young artist in residence program.
Since 1997 Taikoz has developed an international reputation for vibrant performances that couple explosive energy and extreme dynamism with refinement and grace. From the most delicate melodies of the shakuhachi to the thunderous impact of the odaiko, Taikoz is at once meditative and free-spirited, primal and dramatic.
The ensemble undertakes a year ‘round schedule of workshops, teaching and performances that have seen them appear on the stages of Australia’s finest concert halls, as well as those of Japan, Paris, Bangkok, Taiwan, Abu Dhabi and most recently the USA, where Taikoz gave a series of performances on the West Coast, culminating in headline appearances in the ‘Taiko Nation’ concerts at the 2014 World Taiko Gathering in Los Angeles. The group regularly appears in the theatres of regional Australia, having undertaken five Australia-wide tours. Taikoz has composed over thirty original works for wadaiko including several in combination with instruments such as shakuhachi, koto, marimba, saxophone, cello, drum set and didgeridoo. Distinguished composers Gerard Brophy, Andrea Molino, Michael Askill, David Pye, Graeme Koehne and Timothy Constable have also written works for the ensemble.
Taikoz has collaborated with artists and companies as diverse as John Bell and the Bell Shakespeare Company, taiko greats Eitetsu Hayashi, Kenny Endo and Kaoru Watanabe, as well as distinguished choreographers Meryl Tankard and Anandavalli. In 2012, Taikoz collaborated with Kodo on a nation-wide tour of Australia. The group has also appeared in concerto works with the Sydney, Melbourne, West Australian and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Dresden Sinfoniker in Europe. Awards include Limelight ‘Best New Composition Award’ for Kaidan, Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award in recognition of Taikoz’s commitment to Australian music and a Drover Award for regional touring and education.