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 around the country. What resulted was a piece of music for every constellation in the sky with a connection to Aboriginal mythology.

Joined by astronomer Fred Watson, well known from his appearances on ABC Radio, the Griffyn Ensemble will perform the Australian premiere of Southern Sky, a decade after it was written in Australia. This special event will be held at the source of Sisask’s inspiration at Mt Stromlo Observatory and features celestial music, Aboriginal myth, and the story of the stars.

Friday March 30 2012, Mt Stromlo Observatory, Canberra 7:30pm
Saturday March 31 2012, Gasworks Studio Theatre, Melbourne 8pm
Sunday April 1 2012, Discovery Science and Technology Centre, Bendigo 5pm
With special guest, astronomer Fred Watson

Friday November 15 2013, Mt Stromlo Observatory, Canberra 8pm

You can read a blog article about the concert here.

A live performance was recorded for ABC Classic FM for Sunday Live in March, 2013

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 performed by ensembles across Australia and the world) and anthropology (a published researcher in the interdisciplinary area of composition-anthropologist-linguistics). You will also see Michael play a host of plucked string instruments in a Griffyn concert (bouzoukis, mandolins, guitars), as well as Griffyn performing many of his own compositions.

Michael has lectured in tertiary composition at the Australian National University School of Music, and has made presentations on youth musical advocacy in places as far flung as Jinan (China), Istanbul (Turkey), and Tallinn (Estonia).  The local Rugby League community is also a big part of Michael’s life, having played and coached for the Gungahlin Bulls in the Canberra Raiders Cup.  You can find out more about Michael’s music and activity at his website here.  Michael is also Artistic Director, Education for Musica Viva Australia.