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by Cam MacDonald
posted 29/09/2021

Acoustic Ritual Fridays

In a time before restrictions took over Sydney

Acoustic Ritual Fridays was conceived as a concert environment in the grand foyer of George Place in the Sydney CBD, that would allow building workers to enjoy live performance on their way to work, as well as streaming the concerts digitally.

Utilising the foyer’s scale and acoustics Sydney Fringe would work with leading contemporary live music programmers Venue 505, to curate a series of weekly concerts as part of their award-winning Acoustic Ritual program. The concerts were to celebrate the communities of the CBD and George Place, enticing workers to gather together at the end of the week, connect, reflect and listen.

The program – featuring an array of music genres all performing acoustically – was designed to provide a vital support platform for local artists as they emerge from the Covid-19 crisis and into the recovery phase.

And then Sydney went into lockdown

With restrictions coming into place, Acoustic Ritual Fridays evolved into a digital only concert series, streaming first online at 3pm Fridays, to ease listeners into the weekend.

Where it began

For the past seventeen years 505 has been at the forefront of contemporary live music programming in Sydney. They have built a reputation for their legendary venues and exceptionally high-quality presentations of local, interstate and international artists.

In 2020 they launched a series of small capacity intimate concerts branded Acoustic Ritual, providing audiences the only intimate listening experience in a concert style environment in Sydney.

505 has been awarded a swag of acknowledgements including Time Out Sydney’s LEGEND AWARD and listed as a ‘must visit’ spot in the Lonely Planet guide. They have curated programs for Vivid Sydney, Great Southern Nights, Cockatoo Island and more.

Headed up by musician Cameron Undy the programming focuses on roots music of all kinds and in 2019/20the organisation presented over 333 bands, featuring 1100 artists.

Presenting partner

Acoustic Ritual Fridays is presented in association with George Place, owned by ISPT.


Abridged Artist Bios (full bios following)

#1 September 17th

(clockwise from top left) Hamed Sadeghi, Alister Spence, Jason Noble and Bonnie Stewart.

Hamed Sadeghi – Tar

Born in Iran, Hamed Sadeghi is a tar player, composer and producer who has been involved in many solo and collaborative projects around the world, including with maestro Shahram Nazeri and Shahroz Aziz and his regular band Eishan Ensemble.

Alister Spence – Piano

Pianist and composer Alister Spence is a pre-eminent creative force in jazz and improvised music in Australia and beyond. He was a founding member of ARIA-award-winning bands Clarion Fracture Zone and Wanderlust and current projects include the long standing Alister Spence Trio, Kira Kira with acclaimed Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii, and Sensaround with Sia Ahmad (AU) and Raymond MacDonald (Scotland).

Bonniesongs – Guitar and Voice

Bonnie Stewart (Ireland) is one of those subtly transcendent artists, her lilting vocals float over gentle peaks of thrumming guitar. Stewart renders her arrangements with a fidelity of performance that seems to amplify an almost spectral presence. Her ethereal qualities beguile you into a dreamlike trance in the style of contemporary folk/ alternative artists such as Joanna Newsom and Bjork.

Jason Noble – Clarinet

Jason Noble is one of Australia’s most versatile clarinettists. He is equally at home in the concert hall or experimenting in Sydney’s improvised music scene. A specialist in presenting new work, he works closely with living Australian composers, championing the music of our time. A believer in the power of music in breaking down barriers, he has collaborated with musicians from Afghanistan, India and the Tiwi Islands.

#2 September 24th

(clockwise from top left) Novak Monojlovic, Mary Rapp, Carl Dewhurst and Lamorna Nightingale.

Novak Monojlovic – Piano

Novak Manojlovic is a Sydney-based pianist, composer and improviser drawing from classical, jazz, avant-garde and electronic music. He is one of Australia’s more forward-thinking instrumentalists and composers, sonically resting somewhere between JS Bach, Ahmad Jamal, Chris Abrahams and Ryuichi Sakamoto. In 2019, Novak was awarded the prestigious Freedman Fellowship in Jazz.

Mary Rapp – Cello

Mary Rapp has studied the cello rulebook, absorbed it thoroughly, and thrown it out the window. Never restricted by others’ concepts of genre or application, she has consistently recast the instrument as her own. Rapp has always challenged herself to reach out toward the unanticipated, to move the music around corners in order to reveal unforeseen vistas.

Carl Dewhurst – Guitar

Carl is one Australia’s most accomplished and highly regarded jazz guitarists. He was a member of the James Morrison Quartet for fifteen years; the Vince Jones Band; and the Australian Art Orchestra. He has lived and toured internationally including having performed at The Lincoln Centre in NYC, Ronnie Scott’s London, and numerous major festivals including the Mumbai, London, Copenhagen, Pori and Berlin jazz festivals.

Lamorna Nightingale – Flute

Lamorna Nightingale is a flautist, concert presenter, educator and publisher who is passionate about the future of art music in Australia. She has many years experience working in the orchestral sector and is a core member of the new music group, Ensemble Offspring. Lamorna runs ‘BackStage Music’, a concert series in Sydney which fosters a culture for living music.

#3 October 1st

(clockwise from top left) Hilary Geddes, Emma Stephenson, Matt McMahon and Oliver Thorpe.

Hilary Geddes – Guitar

Hilary Geddes is an award-winning guitarist, composer and improviser. She is a 2021 ABC Jazz Scholarship, the 2019 recipient of the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award and is the bandleader of the Hilary Geddes Quartet who released their debut album, Parkside, in July. Over the past three years, her practice has centred around the possibilities of site-specific improvisation, sound mapping, and the role of a place to inform listening/performance

Emma Stephenson – Piano

In 2017 Emma Stephenson was awarded the Freedman Fellowship for Australian jazz musicians under the age of 35. While residing in New York City she performed live piano karaoke and request shows at some of New York’s most famous piano bars and recorded her second studio album, ‘I Wrote You a Song’ featuring six guest vocalists. This solo piano performance will showcase her favourite jazz standards.

Oliver Thorpe – Pedal Steel

Multi-instrumentalist from Sydney. Years of study on the electric guitar and voice led to a keen interest in the eccentric sounds of the pedal steel guitar. After only 3 or so years on the instrument, Ollie has played and recorded with the likes of Keith Urban, Tim Freedman, Andy Golledge, Brendan Gallagher just to name a few.

He takes great influence from innovators such as Daniel Lanois and Rich Hinman

Matt McMahon – Piano

Matt McMahon is an award-winning pianist and composer who explores music from many traditions – from jazz to classical music, traditional Irish music to flamenco, free improvisation to funk, Arabic to Korean music. He leads his own groups, performs solo, and has performed in collaboration with artists such as Vince Jones, Joseph Tawadros, Katie Noonan, Gurrumul, Greg Osby, Aaron Goldberg, Bandaluzzia, Daorum, and Sharon Shannon.

#4 October 8th

(clockwise from top left) Lauren Tsamouras, Yutaro Okuda, Damian Wright and Gary Daley.

Lauren Tsamouras – Piano

Jazz pianist and improviser, Lauren Tsamouras, has been influenced by trad Jazz of the 1920’s, iconic jazz players of the 50’s such as Bill Evans and Chet Baker as well as contemporary Australian pianist and composer Luke Howard. Her music is written to challenge the standard roles of instrumentation; navigating pulsatile, ostinato-based compositions where the improvisation is informed by the architecture of the piece.

Yutaro Okuda – Guitar

Slow moving harmony + warm sonic spaces. Usually seen performing with ensembles small to large in jazz/improvised music settings, Yutaro will be presenting a re-orchestration of his original compositions and standard repertoire for solo guitar. When not playing solo, Yutaro leads and plays in many ensembles including his quintet, Arcing Wires, A/O/W/G, Scattered, Fetherstone, Memewars Band and Divergence Jazz Orchestra.

Gary Daley – Piano Accordion and Piano

One of the most engaging performers and composers on the contemporary music scene. Gary Daley plays music by iconic composers such as Piazzola, Villa Lobos, Bartok and Bach. Beautiful music, traditionally associated with the accordion as well as pieces artfully reimagined for the instrument. In addition there will be carefully chosen pieces from the folk and jazz repertoire.

Damian Wright – Guitar 

ARIA nominated Flamenco guitarist Damian’s ensemble BANDALUZIA was invited in to perform at the biannual Adelaide International Guitar Festival curated by Slava Grigoryan and has performed at The Sydney International Guitar Festival. Bandaluzia also performed to sold out audiences at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall as part of TEDX 2014, and is a previous winner of the ‘Pick of the Fringe’ award at The Sydney Fringe.


Who: Sydney Fringe Festival

What: Acoustic Ritual Fridays

When: Friday, 1st October & Friday, 8th  October 2021
(on demand until Sunday, 17th October)

Where: Streaming Online 4 FREE!

To Find Out More Click Here