Dots+Loops find an innovative path through COVID-19

Photography by Dan Lopez / Rue Arts

Since it began in 2014, Brisbane-based Dots+Loops has made its name as one of the liveliest post-classical concert outfits in Australia. Formed and directed by Kieran Welch, a viola player turned curator, manager and DJ, this year it has been adapting to changing times just as so many other groups have been forced to do. But in place of streaming concerts, it has elected to run a series of video tutorials and podcasts this year called 'Joining the Dots' that are aimed at a broader constituency.

The video tutorials are instructional sessions led by feature artists from the Dots+Loops community who give hands-on insights into different areas of practice. Each concludes with a short performance and are designed for anyone to try ideas out at home without needing prior experience. "From classical and folk performers to DJs and producers, visual artists to writers, from making music with your iPad to drawing otherworldly sounds from a piano, the series has something for everyone at all levels of experience," says its website.

In the first tutorial, titled 'Making Music on an iPad', Brisbane composer, producer and video artist Chris Perren explains what can be done using a range of different music creation, arrangement and recording apps. All the tutorials are free as they come out on Dots+Loops' YouTube Channel and Facebook page.

The podcasts are conversation-based sessions led by Welch and Dots+Loops' assistant directors Flora Wong and Connor D'Netto that look in greater detail at various areas of artistic work and practice. First in the series will feature concert pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska, and all are being made available on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services.

Also new this year is Dots+Loops' Composition Fellowship program. Intended to support "emerging composers interested in taking their music beyond the traditions of the classical concert hall" and led by D'Netto, its first recipient has been named Oliver Brown, an experimental composer, visual artist and photographer from Melbourne.

"I aim to make my music egalitarian, entertaining, community-grounded and surprising. I place particular emphasis on amplifying the voices of the Queer community and other marginalised groups. One of my broadest aims is to have observers simultaneously laughing and thinking over the course of a work - I like to surprise people, and use humour to push the boundaries of what music and musicians can be," he says.

Brown will work with mentors including Eve Klein, Madeleine Cocolas and D'Netto over the next 18 months.

Meanwhile, Dots+Loops' concert series is on hold for now as artists and audiences alike struggle through the pandemic. In the past the organisers have staged performances at Newstead Brewing Co, BiB'n'Brace Collective, Cupo and other hip venues around Brisbane. In 2018 they extended the series to Melbourne, in a performance at Abbotsford Convent with music by Philip Glass and Kate Moore.

Always adventurous, their concerts bridge many gaps. Traditional acoustic concert instruments such as piano, violin, cello, flute, saxophone, harp, panpipes frequently rub shoulders with electric guitars, keyboards, laptops and DJing. Visual art elements and lighting effects are often also a feature of their performances. Sample an interesting collage of Dots+Loops' past work here on Youtube.

On its books is a finale 'Reboot' concert on 12 December which aims to pay tribute to a tumultuous year. Details to come - see here.

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