one infinity

Years ago I wandered into the fourteenth century. Music took me there. I was beguiled by melodies that seemed to reach for something unearthly, their long lines floating above drones in a way that suspended time.

Meeting Max de Wardener’s music in the early 2000s, I fell for his gentle ear for sound, his dream-like worlds. His music felt related to my earlier love for things confounding linear chronology. Parallel to discovering Max, I found Gideon Obarzanek’s work, and for years sat spellbound in his audiences, gripped by the brilliance and ache of those creations.

2008-12, I worked often in Yuin Country, and at the heart of that place was a remarkable woman, Neilma Gantner. She’d subtly, generously built a culture that enabled hundreds of musicians and listeners. I played at Neilma’s funeral in 2015, and in conversation afterwards, her daughter-in-law Ziyin Gantner invited me to Beijing. There, guided by a group of quietly visionary people, I was led into the rich world of traditional Chinese music and culture.

Our ‘one infinity’ conversation took place over three years. It was soft, collaborative, and illuminating. Our colleagues were gifted and hospitable, and it was a privilege to be in their presence. Our warmest thanks to them, and to Ziyin and Jess, who made this deep human and cultural exchange possible.

Max and I fashioned a musical world to frame a series of guqin classics. Our new music was inspired by textures, techniques and fragments from western history where our musical language felt empathetic with the beautifully sophisticated Chinese world we were privy to. These hinge points in time allowed us to traverse centuries and cultures, and together, to make something entirely of this time and place. The world Gideon created in response to the music led us towards our shared desire for contemplation, everything slipping gradually towards stillness, silence.

one infinity premiered in October 2018 for Melbourne Festival, at Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne, playing next in Sydney Festival January 2019 and Perth Festival February 2019.

Sarah Walker