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Ad Lib Collective’s musical ice capades put focus on climate

“We never know when a chunk is going to fall,” says Thea Rossen, who founded the Ad Lib Collective w..

“We never know when a chunk is going to fall,” says Thea Rossen, who founded the Ad Lib Collective with saxophonist Jesse Deane.

“We have no control over it and the performers dont respond [to what's happening]. Its really about the audience reaction.”

Partly inspired by John Cages explorations of indeterminacy and the work of Australian percussionist Vanessa Tomlinson, Rossen says the performance is a comment on how climate change can abruptly and violently permeate our lives, as with bushfire or flood.

Speaking to The Age from Melbournes sister city of Boston, where she is further exploring the concept on a creative Hugh Rogers Fellowship, Rossen notes just how quickly life can return to normal after a natural disaster.

“We go back to ignoring it, and I find that really fascinating,” she says. “How can we jerk ourselves out of that complacency?”

A self-identified beach girl based in Melbourne (who misses the sunnier climes of hometown Perth), Rossen wants to use her musical skills to break that cycle.

“It actually started for me in the ocean, because I love snorkelling and swimming and its a really important part of my identity,” she says.

“With rising water temperatures affecting acidity, it's [climate change] having a devastating effect on our beautiful reefs, particularly in Australia. I dont pretend to be an expert, but I was like, How can I be useful in my role as a musician, as a creator and collaborator, and add something to this conversation in a different way?”

Though she switched from an engineering degree to study music – first at the University of Western Australia then at Melbournes Australian National Academy of Music – Rossen loved physics and chemistry at school and has a great deal of admiration for the work of climate change scientists. But she worries something is getting lost in communication – “because otherwise everyone would be galvanised into action”.

Thats where she thinks art and music can come into play. “I hope that adding a voice to this discussion will help inspire people to change the way that they treat the world; or maybe theyll become more engaged with local government and call on politicians to act,” she says.

Its not just the melting cylinders in the performance, so redolent of retreating ice caps, that draw on this sense of loss. The very music Rossen and co will play taps right into the scientific research on this man-made disaster.

One piece, Sounds of the Reef, which she began work on in her final year at ANAM, translates Bureau of Meteorology data on rising sea temperatures into musical notes played on vibraphone and Deanes tenor saxophone.

As well as inspiring action, Rossen hopes the work will bring environmentally minded audiences together in celebration.

“I think that with the Metropolis audience, it will really be a case of preaching to the converted,” she says. “But they need to know that they are supported – the community needs as much strength as it can get.”

Ad Lib Collective and Penny Quartet perform Music For Our Changing Climate at Melbourne Recital Centre, April 19, as part of the Metropolis New Music Festival.

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So, we guess this means Beyonce and Jay-Z are OK then

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last..

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last weekend. As you'd expect, it's a statement.

There is arguably no couple better at controlling their own press than Beyonce and Jay-Z. When a video surfaced in 2014 showing Bey's younger sister Solange attacking her brother-in-law in an elevator, rumours of a strained marriage proliferated.

Rather than battle the tabloids, the spouses used the gossip to fuel the creation of two critically beloved, commercially successful records: Beyonce's Lemonade and Jay-Z's 4:44. And, in them, they offered just as many details about their private lives as they chose.

Beyonce and Jay-Z on stage in France for the 2014 On the Run tour.

Photo: Rob Hoffman

Now the couple have continued their domination of pop music, surprising the world last Saturday by releasing their joint album Everything Is Love, which is something of a sequel to those two solo records. Though they have collaborated for at least 15 years, this marks their first joint album, which they dropped under the name The Carters.

The record is a victory lap from a couple who have mined their relationship for universal truths and then presented them as art. It's a fierce love letter to success, to family, to blackness – but, most of all, to each other.

Artwork for the album Everything is Love by The Carters, aka Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Photo: Karl Quinn


Lyrically, it primarily focuses on two aspects of the Carters' lives: their marriage and their success. (more…)

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Rachel Griffiths: female characters are finally getting real on screen

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, P..

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Top of the Lake show that female characters are finally coming of age on Australian screens.

In a spirited speech at the launch of a new state government scheme to support more women directors in television, the actor-turned-director said it was exciting to see female characters move beyond "the typical tropes of 'likable, f—able, adorable'" to "more complex depictions of female experience" recently.

Happy to see "more complex depictions of female experience": Rachel Griffiths (left) with Leah Purcell at the launch of #SheDirects.

Photo: Louie Douvis

While she acknowledged there were male directors who created fresh and compelling women characters, Griffiths said the "male gaze" often reduced them to colouring the characters of their male counterparts.

"[They are created to] make him hot, make him authentic, make him empathetic, make him fatherly, make him conflicted, make him grieve," she said. "In the male gaze, we are so often not the gatekeepers; we're not the ferryman. Sometimes the mentor but usually only ironically, like Judi Dench's M…

"Under-written and under-observed, brought into our sexual awareness precociously and prepubescent in order to accommodate the male libido.


"Often in television we're used by lazy writers and producers who can think of nothing more interesting this week than 'let's have her have sex with X' or 'discover she's a lesbian – for an episode'."

Griffiths, who is about to begin editing the Melbourne Cup drama Ride Like A Girl after finishing the shoot, endorsed Hollywood star Sandra Bullock's recent comment that it was time for women to "stop being polite" about gender equality. (more…)

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Rachel Maddow breaks down on air over Trump immigration policy

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest development..

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest developments in the Trump administration's controversial "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

Maddow, who hosts her own show on MSNBC, was reading from a breaking news release from the Associated Press that revealed government officials have been sending babies and toddlers to what are being called "tender age" shelters in the US.

The youngsters are some of the 2,300 children who have been forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the White House announced a zero-tolerance policy on migrant families in May.

"The AP has just broken some new news," Maddow started.

"Um, this has just come out from the Associated Press, this is incredible. Trump administration have been sending babies and other young children – oh, hold on," she said, her voice breaking.


Maddow attempted to get through the breaking news piece one more time before moving the show over to a guest. "To at least three – three tender age shelters in South Texas. Lawyers and medical providers… I think I'm going to have to hand this off. Sorry."

Maddow took to Twitter shortly after the segment aired to say sorry to her viewers. "Again, I apologise for losing it there for a moment," she wrote. "Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile."

She also tweeted out what she had been trying to say in her live read, writing out what was presented in the AP story. "Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the "tender age" shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis…" she wrote.

"Decades after the nations child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents." (more…)

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