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Barbican announces digital residency with the Australian Chamber Orchestra

Image of the ACO playing in front of the film Mountain featuring a climber in goggles up a mountain

The Barbican has today announced a digital residency with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Centre’s International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court. The ACO and their Music Director Richard Tognetti are currently in Australia but bring an entirely free programme of concerts, supported by a Barbican-curated collection of podcasts, photography, videos, conversations and more for this new virtual residency which takes place from 1-3 December 2020. The new digital residency marks what would have been the ensemble’s third year as a Barbican partner and will be available on the Barbican website, free of charge.

  • Indies and Idols (1 Dec)
  • Transfigured (2 Dec)
  • Mountain (PG) from the Sydney Opera House, 2017 (3 Dec)

With current restrictions on international travel meaning that the ACO’s third Barbican residency has not been able to go ahead, they are nonetheless presenting a new residency - in digital form. Across three pre-recorded concerts (from the last three years - most recently September 2020), the ACO bring a programme showcasing their characteristically eclectic performances. In a concert that would have been performed at the Barbican in October 2020, Indies and Idols (1 Dec) twins the music of contemporary performers and composers Bryce Dessner, Sufjan Stevens and Jonny Greenwood with works from some of the great composers who inspired them: Karol Szymanowski, Witold Lutosławski and Krzysztof Penderecki. On 2 December, the ACO present Transfigured, a project that marked the ACO’s exuberant and hopeful return to the stage in Australia in September 2020, featuring indigenous Australian composer, vocalist and didgeridoo player William Barton. The residency concludes with 2017’s Sydney Opera House live performance recording of the film Mountain (PG). Directed by BAFTA nominee Jennifer Peedom and narrated by William Dafoe, this breath-taking cinematic exploration of humanity’s obsession with wilderness and the sublime force of high places was recorded with the ACO performing in front of the film’s stunning backdrop. Mountain will be available to watch until Sat 5 Dec, with the other two concerts available for a month.

Huw Humphreys, Head of Music, said

We are thrilled to be able to present this digital ACO residency, which showcases the energy, flexibility, vibrancy and artistry for which the ensemble is renowned. International partnerships like the one we have with the ACO are now more important than ever and we are so proud that they are our International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court. The ACO’s annual visits to the Barbican have provided many of the stand-out moments of recent seasons and, while they are unable to be with us in person this year, we hope that this treasure trove of digital delights will sustain you until the ACO and Richard Tognetti can be back with us again soon.

Surrounding the residency is a host of digital content including a photo series by Daniel Bould documenting the orchestra’s Golden Age instruments. From Richard Tognetti’s 1743 Guarneri del Gesù violin, to Satu Vänskä’s 1726 'Belgiorno' Stradivarius, this photo series shares the stories of some of the finest instruments in the world. The residency also features conversations between Richard Tognetti and the Barbican’s Head of Music Huw Humphreys in which they discuss the residency and how the orchestra has adapted in an unprecedented year, and a conversation with William Barton on the art of composing for didgeridoo, and fusing indigenous Australian music with classical. The residency also features playlists, podcasts, Barbican sessions and long reads all available on the Barbican’s Read, Watch, and Listen page.

Full programme information

ACO: Indies and Idols
1 Dec,
Barbican website. Available for a month
Free of charge
Lutosławski Overture for Strings, Bryce Dessner Réponse Lutosławski (Australian Premiere Footage), Sufjan Stevens Suite from Run Rabbit Run (Arr. Michael Atkinson), Krzysztof Penderecki Three Pieces in Baroque Style: I. Aria, String Quartet No.1, Jonny Greenwood Suite From There Will Be Blood, Szymanowski String Quartet No.2 (Arr. Richard Tognetti)

ACO: Transfigured
2 Dec,
Barbican website. Available for a month
Free of charge
William Barton Didge Fusion, Mendelssohn String Quartet in D major, Op. 44 No. 1 (arr. Strings), Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht
The ACO present a concert which marked their return to the Australian stage in September 2020 – a concert of celebration and optimism. Beginning with the work of indigenous Australian composer, vocalist and didgeridoo player William Barton, the concert also features Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in D Major, and the serenity of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht.

ACO: Mountain (PG) (2017 Sydney Opera House live performance recording)
3 Dec,
Barbican website. Available until Sat 5 Dec
Free of charge

Available to watch online for only the second time – and the first time outside of the ACO’s Homecast platform, this is a rare opportunity to experience a live performance recording of a film that The Guardian called “a 70-minute rush of adrenaline; a safari into the sublime; a vertiginous voyage to the top of the world”. Mountain is directed by BAFTA nominee Jennifer Peedom, narrated by two-time Academy Award winning actor Willem Dafoe, and with narration written by British writer Robert MacFarlane.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s digital residency is kindly supported by its University Partner, The University of Melbourne.

The Barbican believes in creating space for people and ideas to connect through its international arts programme, community events and learning activity. To keep its programme accessible to everyone, and to keep investing in the artists it works with, the Barbican needs to raise more than 60% of its income through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising every year. Donations can be made here: