A conversation with the conductor and page turner Kelly Lovelady
Artists have suffered tremendously from the pandemic. Many have lost their income and realized that the safety net protecting them is even more fragile than they had feared. Add to this the underlying socio-economic challenges that the cultural critic William Deresiewicz aptly depicts in his recent book, The Death of the Artist: How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech. At first glance, the democratization of the arts through digital technology might let you conclude that “There’s never been a better time to be an artist.” Many artists, however, feel differently: There’s never been a worse time to be one. Despite (or in fact, because of) the gig economy, as well as the long tail of digital platforms and crowdsourced funding mechanisms, revenue for most creators is falling. They may now have “universal access” to the audience, but “at the price of universal impoverishment,” as Deresiewicz puts it.
As we are all desperately wanting to turn the page and open a new chapter, I spoke with someone who’s not just an artist but also professional page turner: London-based Australian conductor Kelly Lovelady. Lovelady is the founding Artistic Director of Ruthless Jabiru, a chamber orchestra dedicated to exploring humanitarian and social justice stories through new music to promote compassion, sustainability, and social consciousness. Continue reading →
We speak to Australian musicians working around the world about how they are responding to the challenges of teaching music remotely.
By Angus McPherson on April 21, 2020
Many musicians supplement their performing income with teaching work – but just as the concert halls and theatres are closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with social distancing measures in force and students staying home from school, music lessons are also being put on hold. Suddenly, music teachers around the country are having to adapt to a new world in which online lessons are the only way to continue making a living. Meanwhile, performing artists facing down the prospect of months without any of their regular income streams are finding ways to make ends meet by offering online Continue reading →
When Eleanor Knight began researching her libretto for Silk Moth, she had to decide how to frame an opera about honour violence. Meeting women whose lives it had ruptured through the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, she confronted the usual images that accompany the dozen-or-so honour killings per year in the UK media. Between the ‘old, faded school photos’ that illustrate victimhood and the male perpetrators with ‘blankets over their heads … shoved into waiting police cars’, she saw a gulf of painful complexity. ‘What’, she asks, ‘of the mothers?’.1 Continue reading →
It’s summer opera festival season in the UK—so, are you a Glyndebourne or a Grimeborn person? Country house in Sussex, or a converted factory in east London? Mostly standard repertoire, or an adventurous programme with plenty of contemporary discoveries? Membership advised if you want to attend, or accessible pricing? Picnic on the lawn in the supper interval, or walk round the corner to the finest Turkish kebab joints in town? Continue reading →
Ruthless Jabiru presents Bushra El-Turk’s hard-hitting opera Silk Moth alongside works by Liza Lim and Cassandra Miller at the Arcola Theatre in London’s East End, August 9-11. Composers Edition’s Dan Goren caught up with the pioneering musical director Kelly Lovelady to find out more.
Dan Goren: Tell me how you’ve come to be producing this first fully-staged production of Silk Moth and what drew you to it.
Kelly Lovelady: I had been wanting to programme something of Bushra’s for years so when I had the chance to dream up some new programme ideas I went through her works list with a fine comb. The instrumentation of Silk Moth for a single vocalist and mixed ensemble of four Western and Middle Eastern instrumentalists struck me as an Continue reading →
London chamber orchestra Ruthless Jabiru will deliver Silk Moth, its first fully-staged production for fringe opera stalwart Grimeborn Festival at London’s Arcola Theatre over a five performance season from 09-11 August 2019.
A story of vulnerability and complicity told through the music of Bushra El-Turk, Liza Lim and Cassandra Miller, Ruthless Jabiru’s Silk Moth will examine the complex tragedies of honour crime, family violence and female (dis)empowerment in Britain and beyond. Continue reading →
Ruthless Jabiru is an all-Australian chamber orchestra based in London. It is the brainchild of conductor Kelly Lovelady, who in recent years has geared the ensemble towards political and environmental concerns. Previous projects have highlighted environmental damage in central Australia and the campaign to end sponsorship by oil companies in the arts sector. For Saturday’s concert, Lovelady and her colleagues turned their attentions to the humanitarian crisis of refugees setting out for Australia by sea. Continue reading →
This weekend I will conduct a musical programme in solidarity with our brothers and sisters seeking asylum by sea in the beautiful chapel of King’s College London.
My ensemble Ruthless Jabiru is a London chamber orchestra dedicated to humanitarian stories. A dual advocacy for contemporary composers and Activist narratives reflects our citizen duty as artists to engage ever more deeply with the world around us; giving voice to the truths of our allies, interrogating the accountability of our leaders and championing solidarity in all its forms.
As I collect my thoughts on another International Women’s Day I have been reflecting on the cult of familiarity and how deep it runs. In concert music culture we are dogged by this Continue reading →
London chamber orchestra Ruthless Jabiru will use its forthcoming performance to foster a revival of empathy towards refugees.
Centred around the world premiere of The Drowners, a major new orchestral song cycle by British-Australian composer Andrew Ford, the project will honour tidal forces and the many lives lost seeking asylum by sea. This focal work will be framed by the music of composers Nicole Lizée, Rosalind Page, Wolfgang Rihm and Fausto Romitelli to conjure a muted submarine dreamscape: a dark world of distorted gravity, out of body experience and ominous fantasies of the inner ear.
Ruthless Jabiru is an ensemble uniquely dedicated to exploring humanitarian, sustainability and social justice stories through the music of contemporary composers. Using orchestral Continue reading →
The Pacific as a peace force is a powerful idea for me: an oceanic body named for its energetic flow and Activist potential where others are known only for their territory.
This month I am exploring pacifism and carriage in a devised piece for The Joy Offensive ocean. I will conduct Ruthless Jabiru in Liza Lim Gothic, one of six mixed media performances considering the UK’s ethical and social intersections with the Asia Pacific.
Who or what inspired you to take up conducting and pursue a career in music?
Conducting felt inevitable for me as a teenager: a natural evolution despite my oblivion at the time to everything it would eventually entail! The realisation was unceremonious- not really a dream or desire but a moment of clarity. I was lucky to find my two conducting teachers in the years that followed and both continue to mentor me almost 18 years on.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
I think my tastes and philosophies are largely the result of producing my own work. When you find yourself responsible for every detail you start to reconsider the possibilities. If your Continue reading →
How do we perpetuate our projects in austerity conditions? Should we dull our originality and politics to attract commercial branding and government grants? Fossil fuel companies are buying into our performance venues to bury their social and environmental crimes. Can the uprising towards an oil-free cultural sector start with us: the artists?
I’ve called a session on refuelling- ideas of powering, nourishing, sustaining ourselves, our projects, audiences and comrades #Musochat
— Kelly Lovelady (@KellyLovelady) March 20, 2017
As part of our endeavor to support International Women’s Day we begged some of our most inspiring female clients to contribute a blog: here Kelly Lovelady from the inimitable Ruthless Jabiru explores change and power.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that ye olde worlde of conducting is overwhelmingly male. The pride and prejudice of the orchestral podium is, to collate the many confounded observations I’ve collected over the years, a beaming anomaly even to those with little or no concert-going experience.
Gender biases in so-called “classical” music are ultimately borne of a performance ritual which reveres and respects its own history so deeply that it continues to perpetuate the quirks of concert culture as it stood in its infancy almost 200 years ago. Continue reading →
London chamber orchestra Ruthless Jabiru will deliver the closing performance of Joy & Dissent: a festival of cultural Activism at Hackney Showroom from 27 March to 09 April 2017.
Ruthless Jabiru will join forces with Art Not Oil in a major performance event on 09 April calling for London’s artists and cultural organisations to aspire to an oil-free cultural sector by signing the fossil funds free commitment.
Devised and conducted by Kelly Lovelady, Ruthless Jabiru will perform an industrial meditation around fuel dependency and its ramifications for artistic authenticity and accountability in a programme for string orchestra by Julia Wolfe, Gloria Coates, Cat Hope, Continue reading →