Frequent Flyer: Iain Grandage

Composer Iain Grandage always remembers to pack his cello.
Composer Iain Grandage always remembers to pack his cello. Photo: Roger Cummins

This Perth composer and cellist thrives on collaborations.

Q You've just returned from Gnaraloo Station near Ningaloo Reef, 1000 kilometres north of Perth. What took you there?

A Workshopping and filming for The Reef - an immersive film experience with music performed live by Richard Tognetti and the ACO2, with Mark Atkins on didgeridoo and Steve Pigram. The project revolves around the experience of surfing, and features the extraordinary landscapes and seascapes of the area. My role as composer on the project is to try to capture some part of our experience there.

Q What did you pack?

A My cello, a microphone to amplify it, a loop station to multiply it, a little leather-bound book for scrawling ideas in, and my iPhone to sing into. I use the term "sing" very loosely - "groan with energy" is perhaps more accurate. Plus cereal, chocolate, a wind-up torch, my old leather jacket and a check shirt in a lame attempt to blend in with surfers and farmers.

Q Best travel advice you've received?

A Travel light. Which would be helpful if I played the piccolo.

Q Worst accommodation you've stayed in?

A I'm tempted to say the hall cupboard in Edinburgh I slept in while playing for [cabaret act] Meow Meow at the Fringe Festival, but it's topped by the visitation of three snakes while sleeping in a swag in the Great Victoria Desert.

Q Why should travellers head to north-west Western Australia? Isn't one desert-ocean landscape the same as the rest?

A Nothing could be further from the truth. While these landscapes are quintessentially Australian, you only have to spend time with traditional owners in any corner of this country to realise that what we as novices see is only a fraction of the picture - there are songs and stories for every ravine and every constellation. I am so lucky to have been invited on occasion to share a tiny part of that.

The Reef tour, by TURA New Music and the ACO, starts on July 5 in Darwin and concludes on July 23 with a performance at the Sydney Opera House. See reeftour.tura.com.au.

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