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World Premiere: 'Between Zero and One' by Psathas

Sep 6th, 2013

John Psathas has written an epic new work for New Zealand percussion ensemble, Strike Percussion, which premieres this weekend at the Christchurch Arts Festival, Christchurch, New Zealand, 6-7 September 2013. Between Zero and One is an immersive 80-minute musical and visual experience that Psathas developed in collaboration with Strike Percussion and director Philippa Campbell. Between Zero and One also features at the Nelson Arts Festival in Nelson, New Zealand on 12 October 2013.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand National?s Arts on Sunday programme, Psathas describes Between Zero and One as one of his biggest works to date ? and at nearly 80-minutes it is also his longest. It explores the widest possible range of a percussion sextet. In terms of texture, Psathas says it ranges from huge and loud drums to the smallest and quietist ?bell-like? sounds. It also ranges from very fast virtuosic material to slow, atmospheric passages with a lot of space. The work incorporates a variety of styles and genres. About the work, Psathas writes:

?I was inspired by the rhythmic music of the world we live in. Today this means music of over 5000 years of human history. So there is music inspired by very old traditions from Africa, Persia, Greece, and there is music inspired by dubstep, drum'n'bass, classical music (old and new), jazz, rock, and electronica. It's a very wide spectrum of sources and influences. When I write music what I most want to do is celebrate positive energy, especially the beautiful connections that music can create between us during live performance. Strike are one of the most positively charged groups I've ever worked with and written for. Thinking about their unassumingly kiwi yet powerful and virtuosic stage presence also inspired me a great deal when creating the work. I've always felt Strike express beautifully the idea of musical "play". As hard as they work (and they do work hard!) there is always that underlying sense of fun and joy. I love this and it shaped the way I approached the music in Between Zero and One.?

Thematically, Psathas was initially inspired by the theory of the universe expanding and contracting and considering the question: what would people do in the absence of any gods watching? He has also described further pondering ?what if the element of control was not in your life ? what would people be capable of?? From this, the six percussionists are cast in the show as six human beings exploring these possibilities. Psathas says at times the performers are exploring ?goal-oriented behaviour? and ?being playful?.

The dramatic elements and staging have been brought together by director Campbell, who has previously worked with Strike Percussion?s theatre performances. Between Zero and One also includes music and sound design by composers David Downes and Jack Hooker. Also collaborating is renowned AV and interactives designer Tim Gruchy, who has projection mapped his designs on to different parts of the set and instruments.

Visit the Christchurch Arts Festival website for further information about this performance.

Also visit Strike Percussion?s Facebook page.

Listen to the complete interview with John Psathas on the Radio New Zealand website.

Strike Percussion Photo Credit: Matt Grace.

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