While some garage bands are happy to rock with just a single guitarist, the band about to hit Sydney Festival in January is going to be a little bit different: it’s an orchestra made up of a whopping 100 guitars. And if you want to be a part of it, you can.
Avant garde U.S. composer Rhys Chatham is heading to Australia to lead the show, a performance of his famous A Crimson Grail, which was originally composed for a ridiculous 400 guitarists. While he’s only bringing together a quarter of that for the Sydney Festival gig, it’ll still be pretty bloody special, a sonic epic in three parts.
Chatham first started working alongside fellow experimental icons like Philip Glass in the 1970s, before the explosion of The Ramones turned his interest towards the electric guitar, and he released his first huge guitar ensemble in 1989, the 100-strong An Angel Moves To Fast To See.
This will be just the fourth time A Crimson Grail has ever been performed, too, with the first show in Paris in 2005 followed by New York in 2009 and Liverpool in 2012, making for a very special highlight for Sydney Festival 2018.
This is where you come in. If you’d like to join in on the performance, you can apply below by December 8 to be a part of it, and you don’t need to be Jimi Hendrix to get involved – just a “competent” guitarist with a basic understanding of musical notation and reading.
The orchestra will need to be free for rehearsals in Marrickville from 5-10pm on the 9th, 10th and 11th of January, as well as some longer rehearsals and soundchecks before the shows on Friday January 12 and Saturday January 13, with the first notes played at 8pm.
You’ll need to bring a few bits and pieces along too, but nothing that most guitarists won’t have lying around the house:
- electric guitar or bass of good quality that stays in tune (no acoustics, hollow-bodies, or whammy bars)
- good quality amp
- guitar jack/cable (20-foot minimum)
- guitar strap
- digital guitar tuner
- guitar stand
- string changer
Due to the huge amount of people involved, it’s purely a volunteer gig, and while we don’t usually get behind unpaid gigs for musos, we can understand the challenges involved with putting something like this on – and it should be pretty special.
If you’re keen to be involved, click here to answer a few questions, and start flexing those fingers. Or, if you’d just like to watch it all unfold, you can find out more and grab your tickets here, and check out more of the program below.