Judith Hamann (cello) and James Rushford (keyboards) have a long history together: in 2008, while still students in Melbourne, they formed the Golden Fur trio with Sam Dunscombe, an ensemble keen to distance itself from the canonical power centers of contemporary music. Judith Hamann and James Rushford also regularly perform as a duo, as is the case for the Biennale Son, for which they will be playing in an exceptional venue, the Valère Basilica in Sion.
Midmeste is a new collaborative project by the two Australian composer-performers Judith Hamann and James Rushford. Meaning ‘the midmost point’ (from Old English), Midmeste threads a unique and multi-layered web of relationships between cello, organ, and acoustic space–a tracing of multiple strands, outlines, and connections in which original and found musical materials, notions of performative embodiment and psychoacoustic remnants recur. The project incorporates late-Medieval musical texts in an expanded microtonal framework, which are given further historical context and significance through the unique opportunity to work with the organ of the Valère Basilica in Sion - the world’s oldest playable organ.
Lives in Berlin
Judith Hamann is a composer/performer born in Narrm/Melbourne, currently based in Berlin. Described as an “extraordinary Australian cellist” (the Guardian), and as a composer who “destroys the fiction of the musician who lives and works outside conventional parameters and puts in its place a series of compositions that are fundamentally humane” (WIRE), their work encompasses performance, electro-acoustic composition, site specific generative work, and micro-tonal systems in a process based creative practice.
In recent research, Hamann examines the acts of shaking and humming as formal and intimate encounters; interrogates ‘collapse’ as a generative imaginary surface; and considers the ‘de-mastering’ of bodies, both human and non-human, in settler-colonial heritage instrumental practice and pedagogy.
Judith has performed widely with festivals including Tectonics (Glasgow, Athens etc.), UnSound (NYC), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam), Maerzmusik (Berlin), CTM (Berlin), the Venice Biennale Musica (Venice), Tokyo Experimental Festival (Tokyo), and AURAL (Mexico City). Judith enjoys thinking and working with other artists which includes people like Marja Ahti, Joshua Bonnetta, Pascale Criton, Charles Curtis, Sarah Hennies, Yvette Janine Jackson, and Anike Joyce Sadiq. Judith’s work has previously been published by labels including Blank Forms, Black Truffle, Another Timbre, and Longform Editions. Judith holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from UC San Diego.
Born in 1985
Lives in Melbourne
James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer, whose work draws from concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist musical languages, staking out an idiosyncratic stylistic space that has been described as ‘electro-acoustic experimentation with a beating heart’ (Boomkat) and ‘haunted Jacobean ASMR’ (The Wire). Investigating the creases, cracks, and folds in traditions ranging from early music to new age, Rushford’s work subtly exaggerates seemingly liminal aspects such as atmosphere and the bodily presence of the performer until these take on a weight equal to musical elements such as pitch, rhythm and timbre.
In recent years, Rushford’s solo work has been guided by his theorisation of sonic images, particularly the shadow, which has inspired pieces as diverse as an hour-long companion to Federico Mompou’s Música Callada (See the Welter, for solo piano, 2016) and a sumptuous translation of the play of light across flat surfaces into synthetic sound (The Lake from the Louvers, 2020). Rushford has longstanding performance practices on piano, synthesizers and electroacoustic devices, and portative organ, bringing to all of these a delicacy of touch and a harmonic sensibility in which unorthodox tunings coexist with influences from fin de siècle Impressionism, the 20th century avant-garde, and many strains of popular music.