Sound Workshop

By Niki Johnson and Hilary Geddes

Percussionist Niki Johnson and guitarist Hilary Geddes are presenting an all-day, hands-on Sound Workshop at Piccolo Family Farm. Based in Eora/Sydney, their compositional and performance practices span rock, jazz, the orchestra and the avant-garde. The Sound Workshop aims to facilitate new ways of listening to the environment and provide tools to expand participants’ existing approaches to site-specific composition, the opportunity to experiment writing new types of scores based on the discoveries from the day. This workshop will enable participants to re-examine their relationship with sound, to question the binary of music/noise (i.e. how they define music), as well as highlight sounds that are unique to their local environment. Participants are encouraged to bring their own instruments, or any sound-making devices that can be carried on a walk. This workshop is open to any musician or artist who is interested in sound. 

Registration includes participation in Sound Workshop, meals including the Speaking Place collaborative dinner, and entry to A Day in the Orchard festival on Sunday 9th October. 

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Niki Johnson (she/her) is a freelance percussionist based in Sydney and Melbourne whose musical practice explores sound, relationships through collaboration, and theatre. She is a 2021 nominee of the Classical Freedman Fellowship. Niki is a 2018 Graduate of a Bachelor of Music (Percussion Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and is currently undertaking a Master of Arts Research Training at Monash University. She is a core member of theatre show Drummer Queens, is a Speak Percussion Bespoke Artist, and is one half of experimental duo Throat Pleats.

She has recorded percussion for Fox studios, the ABC, and 301 Studios, and performed with chamber ensembles such as Ensemble Offspring and Synergy Percussion. Further she has performed in multiple festivals including the Sydney Festival, Extended Play, Canberra International Music Festival, various experimental music festivals, and international Summer Festivals including Ensemble Evolution (Banff, Canada), New Music on the Point (Vermont, Canada), and SoundScapes (online/Italy). Her solo projects and experimental collaborations involve found sounds, creating new instruments, theatre, and interdisciplinary works.

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Hilary Geddes is a guitarist, improviser and composer based in Eora/Sydney on Gadigal Land. She is the 2021 Freedman Jazz Fellow, a 2021 ABC Jazz Scholarship, and the 2019 recipient of the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award. Hilary is the bandleader of the Hilary Geddes Quartet, and released her debut album ‘Parkside’ (ABC Jazz) with the band in 2021.

Hilary works as an in-demand guitarist in the Australian jazz and improvised music scenes, performing alongside jazz luminaries such as Mike Nock, Lakecia Benjamin (USA) and Barney McAll. She holds the guitar chair in the large ensemble Pharos, is a member of Ellen Kirkwood’s Underwards, and Jeremy Rose’s Earshift Orchestra for the project ‘Disruption! The Voice of Drums’.

As a sound composer, Hilary was awarded the Tura Adapts: 2020 No Borders Commission for the multi-media work ‘Upstream, Down River’. Hilary was also a recipient of the Woollahra Municipal Council’s 2018/2019 Community and Cultural Grants Program, through which she was able to launch her soundmapping project SCAPES with a series of pop-up improvisations throughout the Woollahra precinct in March. These performances were recorded and will be released in the coming months.

Hilary also works in rock and contemporary music scenes, having performed with Tim Minchin in his album livestream in 2020. She is the lead guitarist in the garage-band, The Buoys (Spunk Records), whose song ‘Lie to Me Again’ was voted number 85 in the 2021 triple j Hottest 100, and are performing at Splendour in the Grass in 2022.

In 2018, Hilary graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with First Class Honours, studying under renowned guitarists Carl Dewhurst, James Muller and Steve Brien. She also spent a year living in Germany, studying with esteemed guitarist, Andreas Wahl at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen during 2016 and 2017. After a competitive selective process, Hilary took part in the Australian Art Orchestra Creative Music Intensive in 2018, working and performing with artists such as Il Dong Bae, Daniel and David Wilfred and Sunny Kim.

Hilary is passionate about shared learning, collaboration and exploring different processes for improvisation. Over the past three years, her practice has centred around the possibilities of site-specific improvisation, soundmapping, and the role of place to inform listening/performance. On these aspects of her practice, Hilary received guidance from Vanessa Tomlinson, Cat Hope and Andrea Keller as part of the Australian Art Orchestra’s and Sydney Improvised Music Association’s 2020 mentorship programmes.

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