Merge is a brand new initiative from WA Youth Orchestras nurturing interdisciplinary collaborations between WAYO and other creative industries to further the cultural and performative experience of our members. We personally seek out, commission and produce these collaborations independently, making this a completely unique offering in the Australian arts landscape.
The first of these collaborations combines the awesome force of our 107 piece flagship orchestra with a choreographer, ensemble of dancers, and 25 guest musicians. For this performance, WAYO have personally commissioned up-and-coming home grown choreographer, Scott Elstermann, to compose a dance work to a piece of orchestral music by contemporary Western Australian composer, Rebecca Erin Smith. In celebration of Western Australian stories and home grown talent, this work will bring these disciplines together in a symbiotic exploration of movement and sonority. To partner this work, the orchestra will perform Stravinsky’s enigmatic ballet The Rite of Spring in its totality (a rare occurance in today’s concert halls). Our dancers will return to the stage with fresh new choreography, crafted by Elstermann, bringing to life a contemporary perspective on a historically pivotal work.
Rite & Revolution
7:30pm Saturday 22 January 2022 @ Perth Concert Hall Proudly fundraising for Support Act, the Music Industry’s charity
Rites, rituals & revolutions. Uniting movement and music in an empowering collaboration, and the first of its kind, the WA Youth Orchestra led by Jon Tooby (Darwin Symphony Orchestra) joins forces with celebrated Perth Choreographer Scott Elstermann in a symbiotic exploration of movement and sonority. A choreographed dance troupe will bring to life Stravinsky’s masterwork the The Rite of Spring and accomplished Western Australian composer Rebecca Erin Smith’s Foreigner or Foreigner. The concert will also feature Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Hiawatha Overture, Op.30. This show is proudly presented by our Principal Partner, Woodside.
As part of WA Youth Orchestras’ ongoing commitment to pay it forward to our community, we will be donating $5 from every ticket sold for Rite & Revolution to Support Act. Support Act is the Music Industry’s charity, providing crisis relief to artists, crew and music workers across all genres who are unable to work due to illness, injury, a mental health issue or some other crisis, including the impact of COVID-19 on live music.
CHOREOGRAPHER Scott Elstermann An award-winning dancer and choreographer, 2020 WA Young Achiever of the Year for Arts and Culture, and youngest-ever international recipient (and only Australian) of the prestigious Pina Bausch Fellowship for Dance and Choreography, Scott Elstermann has a demonstrated history of creating vibrant and innovative dance works that inspire and delight. He has performed for the Merce Cunningham Trust as well as some of Australia’s leading dance artists including Lucy Guerin Inc., Stephanie Lake Company, Natalie Allen, Annette Carmichael, Shona Erskine, Brooke Leeder & Dancers and Melbourne collective Alice Will Caroline. In 2020, Scott won Best Performer (Male) and Best New Work (‘Act 2, Scenes 1-4’) at the Performing Arts WA Awards. His work ‘Act 2, Scenes 1-4’ was also a finalist for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance’ at the nationally recognised Australian Dance Awards. Read more
COMPOSER Rebecca Erin Smith R. E. Smith is an award winning Australian composer and interdisciplinary artist who specialises in collaborative media and concert works. She works primarily with large ensembles of acoustic instruments and the human voice, utilising traditional notation alongside multimedia textile graphic scores. Most recently, her work has been internationally premiered in Japan and Singapore with the Orchestra of the Music Makers (SG), Canada and the USA with Phoenix Ensemble, and nationally with the West Australian, Sydney and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. She has exhibited in masterclasses held by Ensemble Loadbang, ‘cellist Friedrich Gauwerky, and composers Dr Lewis Nielson (Oberlin College), and Dr Robert Cuckson (Curtis Institute, Mannes College). Her collaborative efforts have been presented at the Columbia University Film Festival, Philip K Dick Science Fiction Film Festival and Savannah Film Festival (among others), and in a theatrical capacity at Schapiro Theatre, NYC. Smith delivered a TEDx talk in August 2018 which discussed the role of art in the modern world, asking the question: how much art do we consume on a daily basis and do we really value the people who create it?
Rebecca Erin Smith
Rebecca Erin Smith continued…
In an educational capacity, Smith is a current faculty member of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts lecturing in composition, theory and music analysis, and is regularly engaged as an adjudicator and guest lecturer both nationally and internationally. She has mentored for various new music programs Australia-wide including those presented by Perth Festival and Tura New Music. A Fulbright Scholar and graduate of the Manhattan School of Music New York, Smith earned her Masters of Music under the Tutelage of Dr Marjorie Merryman, upon commencement winning the Nicolas Flagello Composition Award for most outstanding composer. The years 2012-2015 saw Rebecca awarded over $150,000 in merit-based scholarships including the Deolus Husband Scholarship for Composition (MSM), Manhattan School of Music Composition Scholarship (MSM), Young People and the Arts International Scholarship from the Department of Culture and the Arts Australia, Barbara MacLeod Scholarship (WAAPA), Dr Harold Schenberg Music Prize (UWA), and the Marvin Hamlisch Scholarship (Juilliard School).
Rebecca has worked in a compositional capacity with the Manhattan School of Music Symphony, Western Australian/Perth/Sydney/Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, Australian/Western Australian Youth Orchestras, LiNK and Co3 Dance Companies, alongside many bands and high-profile contemporary new music practitioners in the USA, Canada, Germany, Greece and Australia. Her recent and prospective music/visual art commissions include works for Perth Festival, Wind Quintet + with Sara Macliver, WA Symphony Orchestra Bassists, The Choral Collective, GreyWing Ensemble, and new music practitioners Adam Marks & Philip Everall, Paul Tanner, Ben Matthews, and Jana Luksts (GER) & Sara Constant (CA). An active proponent of gender parity and interdisciplinary cross-pollination, Smith creates works that surprise and delight, visually, aurally, conceptually and tangibly.
CONDUCTOR Jon Tooby
Jonathan Tooby is currently Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of Darwin Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 2018. He has conducted the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Australian Youth Orchestra, WA Youth Orchestras, WA Ballet and WA Opera.
Jonathan has pioneered many successful collaborative projects and has partnered with independent artists and performance groups to create new works and performance experiences. In 2021, Jonathan conducted the Darwin Symphony Orchestra at Barunga Festival, one of the Northern Territory’s most iconic indigenous cultural events featuring art, music and sport.
Jonathan Tooby continues….
In 2021 Jonathan directed “Olive Pink”, a new Opera by Anne Boyd, which premiered in Alice Springs at the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens as part of the Desert Song Festival. The significant event combined a variety of artistic elements and featured local artists including Riley Lee performing the Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), and the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir.
Jonathan also conducted many concerts with Darwin Symphony Orchestra, including “DISCO” in the Botanic Gardens, “Wavelengths” and “Bunggul” in the Darwin Festival. A selection of masterpieces performed included Shostakovich’s Symphony No.5, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.5, Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, featuring Semra Lee Smith and Sally Boud.
In addition to his busy conducting schedule, Jonathan is in demand as a cellist and continues to perform and tour with numerous groups, most notably the Darlington Ensemble, I Cellisti, Arafura Collective, Whistling Kite, and more recently the Rococconuts.
LIGHTING DESIGNER Alex Spartalis
This is Alex’s first collaboration with WAYO. While initially studying at high school, he was involved in the theatre program, learning to design lighting for school musicals and has since worked professionally for many clients throughout the state, including the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Perth Symphony Orchestra and Channel Seven. He has also worked for Perth Festival as a production engineer and designer, as well as a student mentor in technical theatre with Wesley College, Aquinas College and Hale School.
Our esteemed ensemble was selected from an Australia-wide open application process. We are so fortunate to have such incredible talent join us on stage for this blockbuster production!
Briannah Davis is a graduate of The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (14’) and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (17’). In 2018 Briannah completed her Honours as a part of WAAPA’s LINK Dance Company. Through her work in the independent dance sector, she co-founded two dance- theatre collectives, Syndicate and Not Sold Separately. Within SYNDICATE Briannah produced, choreographed, and performed within their award-nominated Fringe World Festival performances (18-20’). Not Sold Separately debuted in 2019 with performance season, Drug Aware presents: ceilings. Sponsored by Propel Youth Arts. The collective has also performed within AusDance: Dance Day in Forrest Chase; The Blueroom Theatre’s Summer Nights: Micromove and in 2021 at The Girls School Fringe World Perth Hub, The 2020 Isolympics Sponsored by the City of Perth. In 2020, Briannah was a part of mentorship program, Hidden Movements curated by Bernadette Lewis, where she created a solo exploring the relationship between movement and character development through improvisation. Briannah’s tertiary training and professional experience has seen her work with choreographers including Stephanie Lake, Richard Cilli, Emma Fishwick and Unkempt Dance.
Giorgia Schijf is an emerging, contemporary dance artist based in Perth, Western Australia. Giorgia graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts (Dance) Honours. In 2017, Giorgia was studied abroad at Purchase College at the State University of New York. In 2019 Giorgia was a member of LINK Dance Company, where she gained experience dancing in a pre-professional company setting performing both nationally and internationally. Since graduating WAAPA, Giorgia has been involved with multiple Perth Fringe Festival productions, as well as performances as a part of the renowned Summer Nights programs at The Blue Room Theatre between 2019-2021. One of Giorgia’s proudest achievements was receiving a nomination for Best Newcomer by the Performing Arts WA Awards, for her performance in ‘Via Lactaea’ at the Perth Fringe Festival in 2019. Giorgia has recently been focussing to define her multidisciplinary practice through performance opportunities such as Hidden Movements curated by Bernadette Lewis, and 900 Seconds curated by The Blue Room Theatre. She has a strong desire to make contemporary dance more accessible to the wider Perth community, and hopes to achieve this through her broad practice of incorporating visual art, dance and music.
Ella Watson-Heath is a movement artist born and raised on Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar (Borloo, Perth) currently living between here and Gadigal land (Sydney), working across performance, choreography and improvisation. A graduate of the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, she has performed in works by artists such as Alice Lee-Holland, Shona Erskine & James O’Hara as a member of STEPS Youth Dance Company, Adelina Larsson, Bernadette Lewis, Rafael Bonachela, Natalie Allen in ‘Panthea’, Brooke Leeder in ‘The Resistance’ (KuanDu Arts Festival, Taipei) and Lee Serle, Miranda Wheen & Carl Sciberras ‘The Rivoli’ and ‘In Situ’ (Syd Fest 2020/21) as a member of Dance Makers Collective’s Future Makers company.
Ellie Matzer was born and raised on the Gold Coast, QLD and began training at the young age of 3. It wasn’t until she was 14 that Ellie had the opportunity to be apart of an independent project and really start her training and sparked a love for contemporary dance. In 2017, Ellie graduated high school with a certificate IV in dance and also performed in the Supercell Dance Festival in a piece choreographed by Courtney Scheu, Lo/ This Change of Heart. Since, Ellie moved to Western Australia to study contemporary dance at WAAPA and graduated in 2020 after working with choreographers Cass Mortimer Eipper (2019), and Raewyn Hill, who worked on their graduating piece. Ellie has just finished a season working with Emma Fishwick on her piece Slow Burn, Together which successfully featured in the Perth Festival alongside many incredible dancers spanning across decades.
Meg Scheffers is an emerging artist who grew up in Gadigal land however has been living and practicing in Boorloo for the past 5 years. Having graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2019 where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts (Dance), Meg is currently navigating the independent dance sector in Boorloo. She is passionate about collaborations that result in the creation of multi-disciplinary works. Upon graduation, Meg performed in April Vardys Fringe work “In Cahoots” in 2020 and “Sense of Wander” in 2021. Meg was also a part of “Hidden Movements” in 2019, curated by Bernadette Lewis. In 2018, Meg was fortunate enough to study abroad at the State University of New York (Purchase College) as well as travel to China to partake in the Beijing Modern Dance Festival (2019). Meg has performed in works by choreographers such as Helder Seabra, Ori Flomin, Lauren Langois, Scott Elstermann and Yilin Kong.
Jo Omodei graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) with a Bachelor of Arts (Dance) in 2018 where she was awarded joint recipient of the Palisade Award for Most Outstanding Dance Graduate. During her training at WAAPA, Jo performed in works by choreographers Storm Helmore (Something Borrowed, Something New), Adelina Larsson (In The Rite) and Bernadette Lewis (Sailors). In 2017, Jo was accepted on an international exchange program for one semester at the Conservatory of Dance at the State University of New York, Purchase College, USA. In her third year, Jo performed in works by Natalie Allen (Panthea) and Brooke Leeder (The Resistance) which toured to Kuan-du Arts Festival in Taipei and Kaohsiung Senior High School, Taiwan, Filipa Peralthina (Stirring Sketches of a Million Love Stories) and Rafael Bonachela remounted by David Mack (2 in D Minor).
In 2019, Jo joined LINK Dance Company under the directorship of Michael Whaites as part of her Honours degree at WAAPA. This included performing works by Scott Elstermann (Shrink), Niv Marinberg (Chasing Breath) and Raewyn Hill (Carnivale.3) in LINK’s The Body Politic Season in Perth, Movement sur la Ville in Montpellier, Uriage Festival in Grenoble and Faites de la danse in Marseille, France, the International Creative Dance Seminar in Beijing, China and Dancehouse in Melbourne.
In 2020, Jo joined Co3 Contemporary Dance performing in Leviathan with Circa Contemporary Circus, CircusWA and Circus Maxima in addition to Stephanie Lake’s Colossus for 2020 Perth Festival. Jo performed an improvised solo work (and all the words I never said) as part of Hidden Movements produced by Bernadette Lewis. Jo has worked on FourByFour a virtual reality short dance film as part of Revelation Film Festival with XR:WA, choreographed by Claudia Alessi and performed in STRUT Dance WA SITU8 season A Tending choreographed by Ellen – Hope Thomson. She has most recently performed in Co3’s Archives of Humanity as part of 2021 Perth Festival.