Federation Handbells Quiddity Commissions

Uniquely crafted bells to ring in our performances

In an exciting collaboration between Melbourne Recital Centre and Museum Victoria, we present four new commissions created for the Federation Handbells by some of Melbourne’s most exciting composers and musicians.

These four pieces will premiere as free performances at Melbourne Recital Centre, where the bells’ beautiful tones ring through the foyers. Each of the four composers have been asked to write a piece around the theme of “Quiddity” the essential nature of something.

The Federation Handbells are uniquely crafted musical instruments commissioned by Arts Victoria to celebrate the Centenary of Federation in 2001. They’re the world’s first true harmonic bells and cover two chromatic piano octaves (from E to D#) and consists of 24 bells. The Federation Handbells are on display in Melbourne Recital Centre’s foyer until September.

The free performances are as follows:

In the first commission for the beautiful Federation Bells, Martin Martini will explore the essential nature of the unconscious – the sleeper – the day dreamer – the moment where we pass from being awake to being asleep. Martin will pair the bells with piano and song in a piece that will emphasise the ethereal nature of the Federation Bells.

Friday 1 August, 6.30 – 6:50pm, Melbourne Recital Centre foyers.
Prior to Festival of Beautiful Sound.

Elissa Goodrich’s new composition for the Federation Bells explores the quiddity of sound and movement. Her work is inspired by the poem “Andante” by Gwen Harwood (excerpt below). Elissa says she wants to explore “the essential qualities of the bells – how the sound hangs in the air and how we hear and indeed can follow traces of sound moving in air and its changing effect and movement as it decays.” Elissa is joined by Elliot Folvig (electric guitar) and Craig Beard (percussion).

Why do I have an image/ of owls with…bells/ hung from the tarsus, hunting/
Hunger, music and death./ And after that the calm/ full frontal stare of silence.
Excerpt from “Andante” by Gwen Harwood

Wednesday 27 August, 7 – 7.20pm, Melbourne Recital Centre foyers.
Prior to Nicolas Hodges (Great Performers series).

Adam Simmons presents his new commission, which pairs the bells with shakuhachi, soprano and percussion. Adam’s piece promises music of gentle beauty, harnessing the spirit and essence of the Bells. Adam is joined by Melbourne Recital Centre regulars Deborah Kaiser and David Jones for a piece that promises to embody the spirit and essence of these beautiful instruments.

Thursday 4 September, 6:30 – 6.50pm, Melbourne Recital Centre foyers.
Prior to Ensemble Liaison: The Diary of Anne Frank and Trio Anima Mundi.

Steve Falk has worked extensively with the Federation Bells. Earlier this year, Steve conducted the Federation Bells community composition workshops and performance as part of the celebrations for Melbourne Recital Centre’s 5th Birthday. In a new composition for the bells, Steve will explore the nature of sound waves, pairing the bells with the elf-like sound of the glockenspiel.

Friday 12 September, 7 – 7.20pm, Melbourne Recital Centre foyers.
Prior to Joe Henry.