We have started our Luke Serrano Workshop Series!   We kicked off with a first look at his “With a Hint of Lime”, filled with fun rhythms and melodies.  Last rehearsal we moved onto “Canon in the Grand Style”, which showcases (according to an inside source) Luke’s long-held fascination of the Baroque.

Over the next few weeks we will be polishing these pieces, as well as further extending our workshop repertoire with additional compositions from Luke plus traditional rounds and folk melodies. We look forward to performing them at Lebowskis on Sunday 11th November.

Our second workshop series for the year is underway with rehearsals stating on October 11. During October and November we are excited to be working with composer Luke Serrano. We will be performing music arranged by Luke specially for Squawkestra, and culminating in a concert on November 11 at Lebowskis.

The workshop series is designed to give the orchestra an opportunity to work with local composers and other musicians, or to welcome back previous Squawkestra members who have graduated to other orchestras. We look forward to welcoming all players who would like to be part of our workshops and concert.

This is what Luke says of his beautiful eight track Aeolus Suite for chamber orchestra (2014):

I believe that this suite is at once highly accessible, but will greatly reward further listening. Exotic harmonies, exciting percussive rhythms, subtle forms that grow imperceptibly, intricate counterpoint, glowing and vibrant textures, memorable melodies – these are the things with which I love to fill my music.

Luke Serrano workshop series

Spring in the Step at Squawkestra

Thanks to all the Squawkestra players who came out of hibernation or back from their winter holidays to play last rehearsal. What a great complement of players – I didn’t count the violins (there were lots!), eight cellos, two flutes and two trumpets.  We were so pleased to see so many players last night, both old and new friends.

Our seating arrangement is allowing us to play whilst also listening to someone else – always a good thing in an ensemble. Playing rounds is also a great way of learning to work together as we zumba-ed and tumba-ed our way around the arrangements. Our new concert program for November will feature collaborations with contemporary Melbourne composers, musicians and other orchestras. We hope you all continue to be part of the journey.

Those family and friends of Squawkestra who braved the cold and dark of the Winter Solstice were treated to a feast of music making, merriment and warmth as Squawkestra hosted a community concert featuring living Melbourne composers, with works of Andrea Keeble (violin) and Adam Simmons (woodwind), as well as others such as Rebecca Marshall and Squawkestra’s very own artistic director Katrina Wilson O’Brien.

Squawkestra’s Winter Solstice concert was the culmination of a 4-week Yarra Bend Workshop Series program that explored the challenging music that both Andrea (The Crossing) and Adam (String) had specifically arranged for our group.

Additionally, audience and Squawkestra members alike were treated to the hauntingly beautiful sounds of Shakuhachi Melbourne, led by Adam Simmons, through traditional Japanese melodies as well as Adam’s own compositions.

A particular highlight from the performance included the eerie and spooky vibrations from a Waterphone; an inharmonic percussive instrument that was invented and developed by Richard Waters in the late 1960s. This was put to great effect within Adam’s String composition.

Whilst Squawkestra is an orchestra for adult beginners, it does not shy away from challenging contemporary music that extends its players’ abilities so that the orchestra’s musical and artistic ability continues to grow and develop.

If you have a classical musical instrument and haven’t played in a long time but think that you might like to, then head over to our member’s page to find out when our next fortnightly rehearsal will be. Come join us for some music making. Players of all levels of experience and musical background are welcome.

Last week was our final rehearsal for our Winter Solstice on Yarra Bend Concert, with Melbourne composers Andrea Keeble and Adam Simmons attending, putting final touches on their pieces which we will be performing.  We also welcome Shakuhachi Melbourne as special guests for the concert.

Please join us tonight (Thursday June 21) at 7:30 pm, at the AIDS Memorial Chapel, Melbourne Polytechnic – Fairfield campus, Yarra Bend Road Fairfield. Entry is by donation.

2018 Concert Poster winter-solstice-yarra-bendWinter

At this week’s Yarra Bend Workshop, Richard van Hoesel played his waterphone solo for Adam Simmons’ work String.

The waterphone is a percussion instrument with water in the base that creates moving, bending tones.  Richard, usually a Squawkestra cellist, bows the bronze rods to create mysterious, etherial sounds similar to whale calls – or the scary moments in a horror film sound track!  His instrument is a bit different from the usual waterphone, as it comprises two waterphones, one stacked on top of the other.  Click here for a sample of Richard’s playing.

We will be performing String at our Winter Solstice Concert at Melbourne Polytechnic (Fairfield Campus) on June 21st.

waterphone 500

Richard’s “Double” Waterphone

As part of our Yarra Bend Workshop Series, last week we were joined by composer and violinist, Andrea Keeble.  Andrea lead us through her work The Crossing, originally written for a 3MBS competition, and recently arranged for Squawkestra.  It was wonderful to learn from Andrea the history and inspiration for the piece, and get her insights and advice on technique.

We will be performing The Crossing at our Winter Solstice Concert at Melbourne Polytechnic (Fairfield Campus) on June 21st.

2018 Squawkestra flyer

City2Sea Fun Run – Nov 15

Sunday Age City2Sea Fun Run

Sunday 15th November 2015

Where: Somewhere on the course from Yarra Park to Catani Gardens

Time: Sometime between 7:00 am – 12:00 pm

Date: Sunday 15th November, 2015



Hey Jgazitsad

Donna Donna

Sto Me

Night on the River


Chariots of Fire

What to Wear

Fun Bright Colours

Other Things to consider:

We may repeat the set

What to Bring

This is an outdoor concert. Be prepared for all weather conditions. I am hoping that we will be under cover, however we may not be. You will not be expected to perform in wet weather.

!!**Pegs to hold your music**!!

Sun cream

Sun glasses

A steady music stand

Cellos may be required to bring a stool

Water bottles

Small bag of belongings that you can keep on you while performing as there is no storage area


Adam Simmons 

Orchestra workshop series and concert

$25 for non-Squawkestra members. Free for Squawkestra members

Thursday April 2 and Thursday April 16 at Northcote Uniting Church (251 High st Northcote) 

7:00 – 9:00 pm


Thursday April 30

7:30 Northcote Uniting Church

Hear a performace outcome from the workshop series

During the workshop series, participants will be exploring Conduction, a unique form of improvisation ideal for ensemble players. Here’s what Adam has to say about Conduction.


“Conduction” is a system of hand gestures that the conductor uses to compose on-the-spot. Adam Simmons learnt directly from its creator, Lawrence “Butch” Morris (USA) in 2005. Since then, Adam has used it with professional and amateur ensembles, often using it to bring disparate instruments, abilities and ages together in creating a truly communal music. “Conduction” is a fantastic tool for encouraging improvising and musical creativity to those who have trouble getting away from “the dots”, while giving the opportunity for those who do improvise to push themselves further. Basically, the workshops teach the gestural language” or “words”, which then get used to create musical “stories”. In workshops, Adam uses “Conduction” to help develop an ensemble’s cohesion and understanding of working together, which can then be applied to more conventional music-making.