Bree back for a ‘Superclusters’ concert
Bree van Reyk. Photo: Xanthe Roxburgh.
PERCUSSIONIST Bree van Reyk, one of Canberra music’s great success stories, is back in town this week as part of Ainslie Arts Centre’s Ainslie Salon Series.
The series, curated by 2022 APRA-AMCOS award winner Sia Ahmad focuses on electronic and improvised music, and you can’t get much more up to date than Van Reyk.
Last year she and Mick Turner, best known as guitarist in the group Dirty Three, were artists on her album, “Superclusters”, and it gives the title and them to their upcoming duo concert.
With a hard copy vinyl release by Hobbledehoy limited to 500 copies, they are snapped up quickly, and no wonder, because as well as Van Reyk on vibraphone, drums and crotales (cymbals) and Turner on electric guitar, there is a line-up of extraordinary Australian jazz and classical luminaries including Véronique Serret on violin, Zoe Hauptmann on upright bass, Nick Wales on viola and Sandy Evans on saxophone.
Van Reyk is no stranger to the wider Australian music scene, having worked in classical, jazz, rock and experimental music with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Paul Kelly, Holly Throsby, Gurrumul and Lior, to name a few .
But she is so famous in the town of her upbringing, where she started learning piano aged 10 before switching to drums and going to the ANU School of Music.
When I catch up with her by phone in Sydney, she says it’s been 22 years since she finished at the ANU in 2000. There she studied with Michael Askill and Gary France, but she had already done jazz and classical classes in a preparatory course when she was at Canberra High and Hawker College.
These days she spends most of her time in Sydney doing a doctorate in musical arts under Liza Lim at Sydney Conservatorium, focusing on composition.
She had a large output, including a fanfare for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, but one of the things she is most proud of is a work for the Sydney Chamber Opera called “The Invisible Bird”, built around the story of ‘ a rare Australian parrot. It was for an ensemble of mixed violins, double bass, flute and percussion. When she composes for opera, she runs the gamut.
“Superclusters” is her first solo release and there were around 32 people involved in the recording, not least Turner, a major coup in her opinion.
“Mick is one of my favorite guitar players … I have a lot of guitar player friends, but he’s a very unique player,” she says.
Curiously, when she performs at the Ainslie Salon, it will be the first time they play live together, as his part on the album was recorded remotely.
“It’s really like a dream to be, my teenage self will be outside myself, it’s really a great honor,” says van Reyk.
A very average guitarist who “can drum around a bit,” she appreciates Turner’s mastery.
Her focus is on another instrument.
“I like to play the vibraphone,” she says. “You can control the instrument more than any other… a drum is hard to control because it lasts as long as it does. I also love organs and accordions because you can hold a note for a long time.”
When she and Turner appear in the Ainslie Salon series, their version of “Superclusters” will be “very improvised, very spacious, very surreal … we’ll do ‘Superclusters’ and some new stuff and some of my old repertoire. “
“Superclusters”, Ainslie Arts Centre, 3 February.
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Ian Meikle, editor