2015 Series: Global Chronicles

The Griffyn Ensemble 2015 Concert Series: ‘Global Chronicles’.

Join us in 2015 as we share four programs that chart the journeys of unique Australians: from those who sailed to South America in the 1890s in search of a ‘New Australia’, to our Director’s recent sojourn in the Arctic Circle.

Gough Whitlam’s historic visit to China has inspired the first program, which coincides with the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, and will feature one of the world’s foremost pipa players.  We will also explore the history of World War 1 through an infamous Rugby League match played in 1914 in our second program.

It’s going to be an exciting year as we chronicle four diverse stories from around the globe – don’t miss out!

For tickets and memberships, click here

The Griffyn Ensemble

Whitlam in China
National Library of Australia
Thurs 12th Feb 7pm
One Show Only

The Dirty Red Digger:
Rugby League Remembrance
Sat 25th April 5:00pm
Sun 26th April 5:00pm
Belconnen Arts Centre

Northern Lights
National Gallery of Australia
Sat 30th May 6:00pm
Sun 31st May 2:00pm

The Utopia Experiment
National Portrait Gallery
Fri 4th Dec 7:00pm
Sat 5th Dec 7:00pm

Whitlam in China

Thurs 12th Feb 7:00pm (One Show Only)
National Library of Australia

The delegation is the first political mission from Australia or from an Opposition party in any Western country to respond to China’s “ping pong diplomacy” of friendly overtures towards the peoples of other countries. The Canberra Times, 3 July 1971

A collaboration with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Australia, Musica Viva Australia, and the National Library of Australia. We celebrate the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival with special guest Ms Hongyan Zhang, one of China’s foremost exponents of the pipa, a traditional plucked string instrument. Through music and words we chronicle the colourful former Prime Minister’s historic visit to China, the legacy of which continues to this day.

For tickets and memberships, click here

You can see Ms Hongyan Zhang perform here.

National Library of Australia
Parkes Place
Canberra ACT 2600









The Dirty Red Digger

Belconnen Arts Centre
Sat 25th April 5:00pm, Sun 26th April 5:00pm
Rugby League Remembrance

Conscription, class war, and Rugby League.  Live music, archival footage, and documentary film combine in The Dirty Red Digger: The story of World War I in Australia through events in Rugby League between 1914 and 1918.  From the working class tenements in ‘Dirty Red’ Glebe, the divisive Prime Minister Billy Hughes, and the traitor/hero status of boxer Les Darcy, this special multimedia event explores the battle for Australian identity and the Anzac legacy.  Comparing the stories of young men in the trenches with young men today, this is a special event not to be missed.

The Dirty Red Digger is a groundbreaking collaboration that sees Rugby League communities collaborate with art music, exploring the struggle for Australian identity during World War 1, and the challenges of young men today and a hundred years ago.  The program features music that we know was played during WW1 in Australia, and Australian music that has been written since.  With over 40 minutes of archival footage and a series of interviews with young men and women, this will be premiered in Canberra and then tour nationally.

It is with regret that I forward the following: Two months ago, I picked up an old Rugby League membership ticket, with the name R. Tidyman on it. Nearby we discovered the body of one of our boys. There was nothing else to help in identification, so we buried him and marked the spot. Sunday Times, 4 April 1917

For tickets and memberships, click here

Belconnen Arts Centre
118 Emu Bank,
Belconnen ACT 2617





Northern Lights

Sat 30th May 6:00pm; Sun 31st May 2:00pm
National Gallery of Australia

The experience of last night will never stop dancing inside and outside me. The aurora is multiplicitous: Sometimes it burns every inch of darkness in the sky. Sometimes it glows, or flows like gas. It can be white heat – clean heat, or a giant streak across the air. It dances ceaselessly transforming – never standing still. Journal Entry, 24 Nov 2014

Tickets purchased from the National Gallery of Australia.

In November 2014 Griffyn Director Michael Sollis joined astronomer Fred Watson in the Arctic Circle in search of the Northern Lights, as a response to Griffyn’s Southern Sky by Estonian composer Urmas Sisask. The resultant composition tells a magical tale of the aurora in a Snow White-esque land of ice and twilight. The premiere performances closely reflect the extraordinary use of light in the ‘James Turrell: a retrospective’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia.

For memberships, click here.  For single tickets, click here.

National Gallery of Australia
Parkes Place,Parkes
Canberra ACT 2600


The Utopia Experiment

Fri 4th Dec 7:00pm; Sat 5th Dec 7:00pm
National Portrait Gallery

We call public attention to the wild, fantastical proposal of a few irresponsible individuals to found a species of communistic commonwealth in some undefined locality in the wild, unsettled regions of South America. The Evening News, Sydney 24 Jan 1893

In the 1890s dissatisfied colonial Australians sailed across the world to establish a Utopian society in the heart of South America. We tell the facinating story of the ‘New Australians’ through electroacoustic music from Latin America, a new operetta, and the words of poet Mary Gilmore who joined the settlement in 1896.

Music featured includes works by Australian composers George Dreyfus, Nigel Westlake, Eric Gross, and the world premiere of a new version of The Plaint of Mary Gilmore, by Vincent Plush, who has set words that Australian poet Mary Gilmore wrote when she joined the rebel settlement in the 1890s. The concert also includes works by Australian-Argentine Gerardo Dirié, Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos, and an electroacoustic piece inspired by the Indigenous people of America by Argentine composer alcides lanza.

For tickets and memberships, click here

National Portrait Gallery
King Edward Terrace,
Parkes Canberra ACT 2600

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The Dirty Red Digger – NSW/ACT Tour

26 June – 5 July

Music, Film, Football and Aussie History during The Great War

Scroll down to book tickets now

The Griffyn Ensemble, “Canberra’s premier chamber ensemble” (CityNews), are bringing their latest groundbreaking multi-media show The Dirty Red Digger to regional New South Wales in June 2015.  The Griffyns offer up a unique perspective on the First World War, by combining such unlikely bedfellows as music, football, history and social politics. The Dirty Red Digger is a potent and cohesive narrative told through music, spoken text and film that highlights the social pressures and challenges that faced Australians both then and now.

At the core of the show is a well-researched and richly illustrated history of rugby league – the ‘game of the people’ that has carried its devotees through dark times and golden eras. Insightful archival film and images of the war era (from the National Film and Sound Archive, British Film Institute and the National Library of Australia), are presented alongside recent interviews, to compare the camaraderie of the young Australian men a century ago with the team spirit, instincts and loyalties of young men who play for the Gungahlin Bulls Rugby League Club today. The show explores the conscription debate, the opposing ethical positions of organised sport during wartime, depression in returned soldiers and young rugby league players today, cultural icon Les Darcy, and the role and importance of music as propaganda, social commentary, and in uniting people.

The Griffyn Ensemble’s artistic director, composer and mandolinist Michael Sollis, is also passionate about footy and has played first grade with the Gungahlin Bulls since he was 16. Team Griffyn are all highly regarded and accomplished musicians and features the vocal talents of soprano Susan Ellis, double bassist Holly Downes, harpist Laura Tanata, violinist Chris Stone, and flautist Kiri Sollis. Their theatrical, accessible and audacious approach to contemporary music has excited audiences since 2005, earning them a loyal following in Canberra. The Dirty Red Digger is their most ambitious project to date and premiered on ANZAC Day 2015 in Canberra. The show has received critical praise and glowing reviews, and has also been toured extensively as part of Musica Viva in Schools education program.

“‘The Dirty Red Digger’ marks the coming of age for the Griffyns…Sollis is writing about instincts and loyalties that he embodies as a member of the Gungahlin Bulls and as a musician. The combination creates a potent and cohesive narrative.”

Jennifer Gall, Canberra Times

“Even more audacious than usual, Sollis managed to create a thoughtful show that married the story of the Glebe Rugby League football team (the Dirty Reds) with that of the ANZACS in World War 1, framed by interviews with young rugby league footballers today. He – and his “team” of engaged and talented performers – had the audience glued to its seats.” 

Whispering Gums

To book tickets online, click on the links below. For local sales (cash or card) scroll down (not all venues have local sales)

Newcastle Panthers Club Friday 26th June 7:30pm – Online Sales

Armidale Town Hall Saturday 27th June 7:30pm – Online Sales

Gunnedah Civic Theatre Sunday 28th June 7:30pm – Online Sales
Or in person at Gunnedah Conservatorium, 90 Barber Street Gunnedah

Dubbo RSL Club Monday 29th June 7:30pm – Online Sales
Or in person at Macquarie Conservatorium, Bultje Street Dubbo (booking form here)

Temora The Supper Room, Town Hall Tuesday 30th June 7:30pm – Online Sales
Or in person at Temora Shire Council

Wagga Commercial Club Wednesday 1st July 7:30pm – Online Sales
Or in person at the Commercial Club Wagga

Cooma Ex-Services Club Thursday 2nd July Cooma 7:30pm – Online Sales
Or in person at  Cooma School of Music, Sharp Street, Cooma

Bermagui Windsong Pavillion Friday 3rd July 7:30pm – Online Sales
Or in person at Four Winds, Bermagui Community Centre Mon-Thu

Sydney Glebe Town Hall Saturday 4th July  7:30pm – Online Sales

Canberra Raiders Belconnen Club Sunday 5th July 5:30pm


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Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature. - Eric Hoffer

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Southern Sky Southern Sky - What happens when Mt Stromlo and Aboriginal mythology collide with an Estonian composer? In the last 1990s Estonian composer/astronomer Urmas Sisask visited Australia to compose Southern Sky based on the southern constellations. Sisask spent much time at Mt Strolmo Observatory (before it burnt down) and other observatories across Australia whilst also observing many Aboriginal rituals
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Griffyn Ensemble The Griffyn Ensemble - Described as “akin to a religious experience” (The Australian), and “Canberra’s premier chamber ensemble” (CityNews), The Griffyn Ensemble are a theatrical chamber ensemble, who break down the barriers of genre and recontextualise music from around the world – whether it’s Mexican avant-gardist Silvestre Revueltas; legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach; folk hero Mikis Theodorakis; and other living
lw_web_banner Winter Solstice - Fri June 20 6pm National Library of Australia White like black, like light and like darkness, connect literature, music, art, spirituality and science. Cultures around the world have been observing the winter solstice for thousands of years. Join us to celebrate the universal wonders of light and dark and their resonances through contemporary art, music
michael small Michael Sollis - As director of Griffyn, Michael has an incredible knack for applying his passion for pretty much anything (and everything) to musical form: From Rugby League to astronomy; Melanesian society to American popular culture; and economic theory to his home town of Canberra.  It will thus be of little surprise that Michael’s background is in composition (with works