In a rapturous celebration of ancient Sri Lankan culture, Baliphonics and Australian Art Orchestra bring age-old rituals to life through traditional dance, chanting and music.
Originally performed at Arts Centre Melbourne in December 2019, we’re thrilled to share a recording of this critically-acclaimed performance for you to watch at home.
In a spectacle of eight dancers, music and light, the unique quartet draw upon an astrological healing practice known as Bali Ritual, in which deities are invoked and demons exorcised.
This concert originated from a recent trip to Sri Lanka, where Peter Knight (Artistic Director, Australian Art Orchestra) formed a friendship with leader of Baliphonics, Sumudi Suraweera. This friendship formed the start of an exciting collaboration combining the yak bera (demon drum), clarinets and other traditional instrumentations with the signature experimental jazz stylings of Australian Art Orchestra.
“Conjuring the gods in a musical frenzy” – The Sydney Morning Herald
“At that moment, it was as if we, as audience, had entered into the ecstatic heart of this music. Fuelled by nature, rhythmic energy and ritual, we had journeyed through a welter of states, emerging exhausted and cleansed” – Australian Jazz
Available until Friday 19 June at 5pm AEST
Run time: 55 minutes
A word from Peter Knight
Australian Art Orchestra Artistic Director
"One of the most extraordinary experiences of music and performance I’ve ever had was attending an all-night harvest ritual near Ambalangoda in southern Sri Lanka last year. The drumming was unbelievable and it went on for hours at a time along with song, dance, fire, and the serving of food. Each sense was engaged and kind of overwhelmed as elation and fatigue became something resembling intoxication. During that same trip I was introduced to Sum and his group Baliphonics, which works with these traditional elements along with new-jazz approaches, and which features two of the most famous Low Country ritual musicians in Sri Lanka, Susantha and Prasanna Rupathilaka. Together they distill some of the energy of this ritual music while at the same time creating something new. Sum and I immediately saw the potential in a collaboration with the AAO."
Meeting Points Series is a creative collaboration between Arts Centre Melbourne and Australian Art Orchestra. This concert was part of Mapping Melbourne 2019.
Sumudi Suraweera – composition, drums
Susantha Rupathilaka – dance and voice
Prasanna Rupathilaka – dance, yak bera and voice
Reuben Derrick – clarinets
Peter Knight – trumpet and electronics
Reuben Lewis – trumpet and electronics
Carl Dewhurst – guitar
Mary Rapp – cello
About Meeting Points Series
A contemporary concert series for the curious.
Now in its third year, this intimate series of concerts brings together musical styles from across the world to create original and unexpected collaborations. Curated by Peter Knight (Artistic Director, Australian Art Orchestra), this series has featured incredible cross-cultural compositions from acclaimed international artists, accompanied by Australia’s leading contemporary music ensemble, the Australian Art Orchestra.
Photo by Damian Vincenzi
Arts Centre Melbourne and Australian Art Orchestra respectfully acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which Meeting Points Series was held, the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people of the Kulin Nation and pay our respect to their Elders past, present and future.