Thursday, 13 September 2018

Louise Devenish’s musical life revolves around exploring sounds, techniques, ideas.

As the Head of Percussion at the UWA Conservatorium of Music, she imparts the latest methods in percussion education to her students and teaches the simple act of sharing music and ideas with others.

Louise is a prolific contemporary percussionist whose practice includes performance, commissioning, curating, research and education.

At the heart of her artistic practice are performance, research and collaborations – and mentoring the next generation of percussionists as they develop from students to professional musicians.

Louise says a typical percussionist’s day at the Conservatorium of Music can range from teaching and rehearsing, to throwing in some creative time for new sound collaborations and compositions.

“I feel like my role is to assist young musicians as they move from being students to professionals by offering opportunities, support and access to a wide range of musical possibilities.

“It’s not only about teaching lessons or lectures, it’s also about continuing the important conversation about the role of contemporary music in our society and where that can lead students in the percussion space,” Louise says.

Best known in the contemporary music industry for sounds of ‘uncompromising precision and stunning virtuosity’, Louise is, unsurprisingly, known among her students for taking percussion to the next level of ‘cool’.

She co-directs the percussion duo The Sound Collectors, leads the UWA’s Piñata Percussion ensemble, percusses for electro-acoustic sextet Decibel. On top of this, Louise curates the annual Day of Percussion – a day-long event that showcases the full spectrum of percussion sounds through a number of performances and workshops.

Louise is also a core artist for a number of percussion ensembles such as Speak Percussion (Vic), Decibel New Music (WA), The Sound Collectors (Vic/WA) and Intercurrent (WA).

All this combined makes Louise a strong advocate of Australian music – with nearly 50 commissioned percussion works in her repertoire.

“There is an exceptionally strong music scene in Australia, and percussionists are amongst the leading figures in the country’s contemporary music. The myriad of ways percussionists are developing new works was very inspiring to me as a student and continues to be inspiring to me now,” Louise says.

No stranger to being recognised for her distinctive sounds and masterful performances, Louise has recently taken another gong at last month’s APRA AMCOS 2018 Art Music Awards with Never Tilt Your Chair Back by Kate Neal - the second time she has won the WA Award for Performance of the Year.

Currently on a Churchill Fellowship, Louise is able to traverse throughout Europe and take inspiration from leading European artists and extend her international collaborations.

“During this time I am undertaking mentoring, discussions and networking with artists and pedagogues in Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain and the UK, as well as attending major festivals, concerts, installations and some really inspiring lectures,” she says.

With several weeks remaining on her fellowship, she is using the time to develop concepts for her next major performance and research project.

“My next major project focusses on post-instrumental practice, an increasingly present form of contemporary music making that focusses on sound, approach, technology and creativity rather than traditional musical instruments and presentational formats.

“Post-instrumental musical practices are changing how we think about making music, how we teach it to our students (especially percussionists!), and how audiences engage with new work.

“I have just received funding from the Australia Council for the first stage collaboration of this project, leading to a solo percussion performance featuring new two works from Australian composers Matthias Schack-Arnott and Annie Hui-Hsin Hseih in 2019,” Louise says.

As for what’s in the Conservatorium’s pipeline for the rest of the year, the Piñata Percussion ensemble is performing Percussive Masterpieces - new and historic minimalist works for percussion - on 12 October in the UWA Callaway Music Auditorium.


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