Become a Circular-Sawrus!

Become a Circular-Sawrus and make music with the Griffyns!

There is nothing more wondrous than watching a wideeyed child discover sound. It could be as simple as seeing them strike two blocks of wood together, inventing a series of variations and patterns – thus making music for the first time.

All of us were children once, and we all had our first discovery of sound. If only we could revisit that experience, to once again be that curious child…

Well, The Griffyn Ensemble is about to make that possible! We are searching for local residents of all backgrounds, ages, and musical experiences to create a giant all-ages musical playground! Perhaps you have something in your garage that you thought you would never have a use for? Let’s turn them into instruments! Perhaps there’s a song or a tune that you absolutely love? Let’s bring them to the stage on these brand new inventions! Perhaps some of you may have some practical skills you would like to share? Let’s build something the world has never seen before! Together, we will be recycling objects and melodies to create new instruments for a new performance to be premiered this December.

We have assembled a crackpot team of maverick musicians and makers: Jim Sharrock (famous for his Musical Mushroom Gardens), and visual artist Byrd (one of Canberra’s pre-eminent mural and graffiti artists) join West Australian Mark Cain (of AC/PVC fame), who will work with us to realise our own musical playground! So, we need your rusty bicycles and your musical memories to premiere brand new instruments, which will debut at Belconnen Arts Centre on December 8th. We are calling on YOU to become one of the Circular-Sawreses, a team of local residents to perform and invent brand new creations side by side with The Griffyn Ensemble.

So, if you have time for evening rehearsals in the first week of December, and would like to be a part of something out-of-the-ordinary, please be in touch and join The Circular-Sawreses, and relive the magic of discovering sound for the first time! Simply submit your details below by Friday 26th October, or send an email to, and we will send through all the details! And please, share this around with friends – we would love to create something special with you all!

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Support Griffyn

We are running a campaign to raise much needed funds for our 2017 Six Curious Concerts.  Your support gives the Griffyn Ensemble much needed assistance for musicians to travel to Canberra, purchase sheet music, and work with collaborators.  This support is critical for the continuation of the Griffyn Ensemble to deliver such exciting projects, such as the Dirty Red Digger, Southern Sky, and last year’s Sex and Dragons collaboration with scientists from the University of Canberra, exploring how sex evolves over time.

All donations are tax-deductable, so please consider supporting – no amount is too great or too small.  Donations can be made through the Australian Cultural Fund with the following link:

Heading to Scotland

This October, Griffyn will be heading to the Sound Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland to launch into a partnership with Scotland’s world-leading Red Note Ensemble.  You can read more about it here.  We will be bringing highlights from Southern Sky on Thursday 22 October in Aberdeen, and then a program of works, including Gorecki’s Good Night on Sunday 25 October in Glenbuchat Village Hall.

Stay tuned for more news, and the exciting Framed Against The Sky project we will be developing with the guys and gals from Red Note!

Three Futurists Assessment Results

Do You Believe? The Three Futurists revealed that 57% of Griffyners believe that Society is better informed than it used to be, and 34% believe they were personally responsible for the Ice Age! Kiri was believed to be chosen because she is gorgeous, and the trickery of Loki caused a robotic explosion. Griffyners also believed that that language is diminishing over time, whilst knowledge is increasing. To access the Assessment Results continue below. Griffyn accepts no responsibility for any propaganda you may experience.

Three Futurists Program Notes

Tatatata (Jacob TV)

If you listen to the ghettoblaster on stage, you will be able to hear the voice and memories of French futurist Guillaume Apollinaire.  Tatatata is one of a series of works by the Dutch composer Jacob Tel Veldhuis (or JacobTV, as he goes by), written specifically for live instruments and ‘ghettoblaster’.  Tatatata is a duet between the double bass and the voice of Apollinaire, who is credited as one of the first surrealists.

Ballet Mécanique (George Antheil)

Written in 1923 by the self-described ‘Bad Boy of Music’ George Antheil, Ballet Mécanique was originally composed as a thirty minute soundtrack to a Dadaist inspired film (you can read more here, composed for robotic instruments.  Antheil was forever experimenting with ways of incorporating mechanical sounds into music (check out his Airplane Piano Sonata), and the Ballet Mécanique originally included sirens and airplane propellers.

In our nine minute version, is Griffyn leading the machine, or is the machine leading Griffyn?  Is technological advancement inevitable?

Song of Seikilos

We don’t know who composed the Song of Seikilos, but it is thought to have been inscribed sometime between 200BC and 100AD on a grave pillar which was later found in 1883 in present day Turkey.  The text translates:

I am a portrait in stone,
I was put here by Seikilos,
where I remain forever, the
symbol of timeless remembrance

Incorporated into the Song is a fragment of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, which relates the story of Helen of Troy, whose beauty led to hundreds of ships being destroyed.

Happy Deathday Mister Robot (Michael Sollis)

There comes a time in every robot’s life when it will be told that the promise of electronic mmortality is all but a story grown-up robots make up to protect the innocence of their younger brethren.  Thus begins The Great Learning, where a robot must come to grips with the inevitability of its future death.  The Robot Congregation marks this rite of passage with the ritual Deathday, welcoming the younger robot into its new stage of life.

Although we have yet to discern exactly how the Deathday is performed or how it affects the psyche of an individual robot (since no human has yet been allowed to witness it), the piece of music Happy Deathday Mister Robot! is a guess as to how the ritual may occur.  This estimation is based on imagery from Ingmar Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal coupled with the themes from the adapted screenplay Blade Runner amongst several other sources.

Happy Deathday was first performed in 2012 in New York.  This is the Australian premiere of the work.

Jesus Is Coming (JacobTV)

Jesus Is Coming is another work by JacobTV for ghettoblaster and instruments.  Written in 2003, the piece is inspired by the trauma and the role of religion in the history of man: ‘God kills’. Is Jesus really coming? It is about time…

The piece features sound bytes from the streets of New York, an angry street evangelist on Times Square (New York), and a small choir of the Salvation Army.  There is a ‘groove’ based on the rhythmical baby talk from two Dutch girls.

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught (Rodgers and Hammerstein)

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught is a song from the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, sung by Lieutenant Joseph Cable as he struggles to come to grips with the cultural influence of race relations on the South Pacific island, as well as racism more generally.

When South Pacific was first performed the song was particularly controversial, and faced much protest particularly in the south of America.  Rodgers and Hammerstein repeatedly claimed that the message of this song was the most important aspect of the musical.  The song is still considered to be controversial in theatres today and has been known to be occasionally omitted from performance.

Fitter Happier (Radiohead)

Fitter Happier featured on the landmark 1997 album OK Computer, which is noted for its use of electronic instrumentation, Orwellian themes, and political influences.  In the original recording, the work features an electronic voice over the top of electronic sound effects and an out of tune piano:

Fitter, happier, more productive
Comfortable, not drinking too much
Regular exercise at the gym 3 days a week
Getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries

At ease, eating well
No more microwave dinners and saturated fats
A patient better driver, a safer car, baby smiling in back seat
Sleeping well, no bad dreams, no paranoia
Careful to all animals, never washing spiders down the plughole

Keep in contact with old friends, enjoy a drink now and then
Will frequently check credit at Moral Bank hole in wall
Favors for favors, fond but not in love
Charity, standing orders, on Sundays ring road supermarket

No killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants
Car wash also on Sundays
No longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows
Nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate
Nothing so childish

At a better pace, slower and more calculated
No chance of escape, now self-employed
Concerned but powerless
An empowered and informed member of society

Pragmatism, not idealism
Will not cry in public
Less chance of illness
Tires that grip in the wet
Shot of baby strapped in back seat
A good memory

Still cries at a good film
Still kisses with saliva
No longer empty and frantic
Like a cat tied to a stick
That’s driven into frozen winter shit

The ability to laugh at weakness
Calm, fitter, healthier and more productive
A pig in a cage on antibiotic

Believer (JacobTV)

Believer is a powerful work for ghettoblaster and instrument, based on a Christmas Fox News interview in 2004 between Bill O’Reilley and George Bush Jnr about the Iraq War.  The interview starts off with Bill asking “So you are indeed a true believer?”, and then follows with Bush’s response.

The work also features as a movement in Jacob TV’s White Flag, a powerful piece inspired by the war in Iraq and amateur videos by US soldiers and marines.


New Website!

Welcome to the new website! It’s about time we gave the website a facelift. Find included a rich history of the last eight years of Griffyn, with reviews, bios, videos, information about composers, blog articles, and much more! We will be continuing to add content, so make sure to visit again shortly.

And remember to ask yourself ‘Science – Do You Believe?’ – our next concert in August 2014, at Belconnen Arts Centre, as part of Griffyn Fairy Tales Chapter Two – The Three Futurists…


New Look for Griffyn

Dear friends

We hope you all had a Happy New Year –  it’s a busy time for everyone, and that is no exception for The Griffyn Ensemble as we prepare for our Griffyn Fairy Tales 2014 season!

The holiday period has brought both sad and exciting news for the Ensemble.   Our great friends Matthew O’Keeffe on clarinet and Wyana O’Keeffe on percussion have announced their retirement from The Griffyn Ensemble after seven years due to the difficulty of travel and family commitments in Melbourne, where they have lived and commuted to and from for the last two years.  Matt and Wy have been an incredible part of Griffyn from the very beginning, and will be sorely missed.  I am sure many of you will share many fond memories of Matt and Wy’s time in Griffyn – and if you would like to leave them a good bye note, we will pass on any correspondence.

With every cloud appears a silver lining however, and we are excited to announce two new Griffyns who will add a new dimension to the Griffyn Ensemble sound!  Violinist Chris Stone and Double Bassist Holly Downes.  Chris and Holly lived in Canberra for several years while studying at the ANU School of Music, and have since been performing in chamber-folk trio The String Contingent (you should check them out at – you may have seen them at the Folk Festival…).

Chris and Holly are amazing classical and folk musicians as well as inspiring composers (you should check out their album Talk) and we can’t wait to introduce them to you in our first concert The Lost Mapmaker as part of the National Library’s Mapping Our World exhibition on February 21 and 22, with visual artist Annika Romeyn and writer Katie Taylor.  This year will also see our former harpist Laura Tanata join Meriel Owen in a couple of concerts throughout the year!

And if you haven’t become a 2014 Member yet, all our membership information can be found at – we will be extending our Griffyn experience giveaway until our first concert, so don’t miss out!

We hope to see you soon!

All the best

The Griffyn Ensemble

Win a Griffyn Experience

November 2013

Become a Member of The Griffyn Ensemble in 2014 before Christmas and go in the draw to win a unique Griffyn experience! We would like to share some of our everyday lives with you, and we have four to give away! Simply choose which experience you would like to go in the draw for when signing up!

*Go on a horse trail ride with Meriel!
*Go to a Raiders match with Michael!
*Have a singing lesson with Susan!
*Walk part of the Centenary Trail with Kiri and her dog Buster!

Find out more about becoming a member here.