Tuesday 5 May 2020 8pm
Tuesday 5 May 2020
In 1952, Harry Smith – filmmaker, musician, collector and bohemian mystic – released a six-album anthology of American folk music. It changed the course of music history, setting the scene for the folk revivals of the 60s and 70s. When the collection came out on CD in 1997, the 16-year-old Sam Amidon received a musical uppercut that would change his life.
Amidon’s new show reworks songs from the famous Anthology as if it were a modern masterpiece. He returns to Australia for the first time since his acclaimed collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in 2017, in an Australian-exclusive appearance at the Canberra International Music Festival.
“When I heard old field recordings of fiddlers and singers on the mountain, it was as harsh and strange as an Albert Ayler free jazz album,” says Amidon. “Suddenly, here were vintage recordings buried under hiss and crackle, with strange accents and weathered voices. It sounded as alien as my first encounter with Ornette Coleman and was part of the same world of exploration.”
“Harry Smith believed in the secret connections and mysteries that existed in culture. He understood American Folk Music to be a wildly heterogeneous category that included multiple cultural, racial, and linguistic elements.”
The Anthology inspired Amidon’s new EP, Fatal Flower Garden (release date 16 November 2019), which follows six solo albums on the Bedroom Community and Nonesuch labels with collaborators such as composer Nico Muhly, guitarist Bill Frisell, producer Thomas Bartlett, and improvisers Shahzad Ismaily and Milford Graves. Amidon recomposes traditional American ballads, hymns and work songs, with the New York Times writing that Amidon “transforms all of the songs, changing their colours and loading them with trapdoors.” Amidon has also recorded or performed as a guest artist with groups such as Bon Iver, Kronos Quartet, Jacob Collier, Jason Moran, Tune-Yards, and Amidon’s wife, the singer-songwriter Beth Orton.
“I think you want to sing and get as deep into the song as possible and into all of its intended mysteries. I think it’s the mystery that draws someone to music.” – Sam Amidon
This is a co-production between Canberra Theatre Centre & Canberra International Music Festival
Canberra Theatre Centre & Canberra International Music Festival
TBC. Lockout inbetween songs.
Concession prices not available for all shows. Where Concession prices are listed, proof of eligibility for Concession must be presented to Canberra Ticketing staff upon collection of tickets or full price may be charged. Eligible Concession may include Pensioner, Full Time Student, Seniors, Unemployed, Under 27 or Child (15 years and under) and are at the discretion of the show. Not all types of Concessions may apply for the show you have selected.
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