A work for detuned colonial piano or grand piano and electronics by Erkki Veltheim,
written for and performed by Gabriella Smart (60’)

In this engrossing acoustic-electronic work composer Erkki Veltheim morphs history with contemporary culture: Morse code played on colonial piano spells out the world’s most retweeted tweet of January 2015, reflecting our universal obsession with trivia.

Telegraph is inspired by the first piano to arrive in Alice Springs at the Telegraph Station via Oodnadata, on the back of a camel. The telegraph line is translated onto the keyboard by utilising the distance in Hertz between the lowest and highest notes of the Telegraph piano (which has 85 keys or 7 octaves), which roughly equals the distance in kilometres of the Overland Telegraph Line. Metaphorically, the keyboard thus traverses a line between Port Augusta and Port Darwin, with Alice Springs being signified by the pitch Eb4.

The pianist is a machine, performing a precise code on colonial piano over an hour against an intense and changing electronic landscape.

Essay by Charles Shafaieh

‘I fully surrendered to this stream of music, created only in the Anglo-Saxon world and its postcolonial and immigrant mix of cultures that absorbed Zen, LSD experiences, poetry and prose, beatnikov, Indian music, late John Coltrane and many more.’
Robert Kolář, Music of Today, Bratislava 2018

Erkki Veltheim

Erkki Veltheim (b. 1976 Finland) is an Australian composer, improviser, performer and interdisciplinary artist.

Erkki has been commissioned by the Adelaide Festival, Vivid Festival, Australian Art Orchestra and Soundstream Collective, and his pieces have been performed by groups such as the London Sinfonietta, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Recent projects include Gawanjalkmi (Song for the fallen) for voices and large ensemble (2015), in collaboration with Gurrumul and Jonno Yunupingu, commissioned by Skinnyfish and Gone West, Belgium; audiovisual performance work Another Other (2014/2016), with co-creators Anthony Pateras, Natasha Anderson and Sabina Maselli, commissioned by Chamber Made Opera; and audiovisual installation Fusion of Tongues (2015), commissioned by Punctum and La Maison Folie, Belgium, for ‘Mons 2015 – European Capital of Culture’ program.

Erkki has performed with the Australian Art Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Elision and Ensemble Modern, and has featured as a soloist with the London Sinfonietta, Australian Opera and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has long-standing collaborations with indigenous musician Gurrumul, improvising trumpet virtuoso Scott Tinkler, and composer-pianist Anthony Pateras.

Erkki is a recipient of a 2013 Myer Creative Fellowship, and in 2014 was appointed Artistic Associate of Chamber Made Opera. He holds a Master of Arts, for which he researched connections between music and ritual.

Constantine Koukias
Foundation IHOS Amsterdam

Phone + 31 6 549894484