Australia has always prided itself on having rich and culturally diverse arts and music industries, but none more so than the INLAND Concert Series. Now in its fourth year, INLAND presents the exploratory music of artists spanning a wide and eclectic variety of popular music and interdisciplinary sound practices.
They encourage music creators to share their work in a performance context to much varied and critically positive acclaim. “We attempt to survey numerous disciplines simultaneously,” says co-director Alexander Garsden. “We're trying to map exploratory approaches to sound wherever they manifest, whether that's in improvised, electroacoustic, or notated music, interesting pop, or in audio-visual and other interdisciplinary work.
“What distinguishes us from [our] contemporaries is that we present things in a sit-down concert setting, and while we've put on a few less recital-like events, we largely work in spaces that ensure an absolute sense of acoustic fidelity. While we do our best to dissolve the austerity and formality of the recital context, the setting still encourages our audience to listen to experimental music in the same focussed manner they would at a classical performance.”
To date, INLAND has hosted 30 performances across Australia, presenting 150 works to local audiences and featured the work of over 70 Australian and international artists, including Natasha Anderson, Peter Evans, Will Guthrie, Michael Kieran Harvey, Paddy Mann and Evelyn Morris. “The people we host are people we want to make art with,” says Garsden. “The first concerts we put on were without any pronounced agenda, except to create a context for our own work that felt right, and that we felt was inadequately created in the concert hall or in any of the spaces, generally bars, galleries and warehouses, that other experimental music organisations were then working out of.
“As we kept programming and our concerts slowly formalised into a series, we became (and remain) dubious of the notion of becoming 'curators' proper. The focus is less about shining a light on a particular artist, practice, or curatorial thread – instead we look across the range of artists whose work we admire or have been affected by, and then try to imagine and cultivate programs that we, as makers and performers, would like to participate in. It's a way of ensuring we go about as artists rather than as administrators.”
In their fourth year, Garsden remarks on the diversity and development of the programme since its humble beginnings. “We go into more venues now – we've co-presented with Liquid Architecture, the Now Now and galleries like Incinerator and Mona,” he says. “It's been good for us to encompass different types of event, and to be able to encompass and cultivate both the musical or social environments that are precluded when you're putting on music in churches.
“Musically too, the territory we span has obviously become more broad. We have a very trusting audience, so we feel better about taking more risks now – putting on 150 minute piano works, things like that.”
A remarkable concept like INLAND can only hope to expand and improve in the years to follow, an observation of such that Garsden wholeheartedly hopes for. “Our first year we put on four shows – this year it's only May and we're putting on our eighth for the year,” he says.
“We've learnt that not all progress is in fact progress. Bigger concerts and more activity means incorporating, means engaging with a whole lot of arts admin structural bullshit that we'd prefer to steer clear of, and means that there'd be a huge gap between the concerts we put on and our ability to engage with them artistically.
“To whatever extent we grow in scale and activity we want to keep that in mind, and to not ruin the plan just by assuming that bigger is better.”
By Anna Rose
INLAND Concert Series will present their first of three concerts at Incinerator Gallery, Moonee Ponds on Friday May 19.