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Club Weld

How a new collaboration is empowering musicians on the autism spectrum

Danielle Edwards

In a first-of-its-kind project, Rainbow Chan, George Nicholas (Seekae) and Eugene Ward (Dro Carey/Tuff Sherm) collaborated with musicians on the autism spectrum and with other disabilities to make their own music in the Sydney Opera House’s state-of-the-art Intel Broadcast Studio during Vivid LIVE in June 2017, a project enabled by one of the Opera House's Utzon Idealist major donors.

Autism Spectrum Australia’s music studio Club Weld and the Opera House’s professional audio production staff worked with twelve participants on the finer points of audio engineering, music production and composition. The program was a new and innovative addition to the Opera House’s year-long Access Program.

"Club Weld allows us to shed light on the inner workings of the festival."

The workshop was inspired by Remix the House, a project originally conceived at Vivid LIVE 2015 that commissioned local electronic artists, including Seekae and Charles Murdoch, to remix musical sounds and atmospheric noises captured within the Opera House.

From the clang of stage winches and the pad of ballerinas’ shoes to the creaking of underground seawater pumps and the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall grand organ, Remix the House produces unique musical compositions by some of the most interesting Australian producers. Using similar techniques, Club Weld musicians captured field recordings around the building to produce original musical tracks that reflect the art, acoustics and architecture of the Opera House.

“We are deeply impressed with Club Weld's creation of an autonomous creative environment,” said Ben Marshall, the Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Music and curator of Vivid LIVE. “We love their emphasis on creation of new work and their high standards in helping these musicians find and realise their vision so it's a great pleasure for us to host this remarkable project.”

    

Club Weld’s Vivid LIVE residency was part of the Opera House’s year-round Access Program of more than 70 accessible performances, workshops and experiences to ensure the world-class performing arts centre is open to all. Additional accessible events during the festival included an audio-described performance of ACO Mountain; an epic cinematic and musical collaboration between the ACO and BAFTA-nominated Sherpa director, Jennifer Peedom, and an audio-described session of Lighting the Sails which allowed visitors who are blind or have low vison to experience Ash Bolland’s Audio Creatures.

 “Club Weld has done outstanding work in empowering people with autism to engage with and create music in an autonomous and challenging environment,” said the Opera House’s Accessibility Manager Jenny Spinak. “This partnership during Vivid LIVE allowed us to shed light on the inner workings of the festival and offer a once in a lifetime experience for the community to engage with the performing arts through first-hand practice.”

Listen to the premiere plus interviews with the participants and Club Weld facilitator Sam Worrad on FBi Radio's Ears Have Ears program.

Club Weld is enabled by one of the Opera House's Utzon Idealist major donors.

Empowering musicians on the autistic spectrum

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Our goal at the Sydney Opera House is to provide barrier-free access, making the site, building and the experiences they offer accessible to all people. We provide a range of access services and performances for people who are blind or have low vision, for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment and for people with physical disabilities.
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