TACTUS (2024)

Audio-visual work for renaissance flute and electronics (tape), and projection (film). 
Full duration: 24 minutes.

“On every level it was a collaborative masterwork.” – XPress Magazine.

Director and Composition: Kate Milligan
Performance and Historical Musicology: Jonty Coy
Video Design: Olivia Davies
Chant: Ensemble Cacophony!
Movement: Rob Polmann

Premiered 19th/20th April, 2024, at the WA Museum Boola Bardip Hackett Hall, Perth.
Work-in-progress showing 15th October, 2023, Freedman Fellowship Finals, Pier 2/3 ACO, Sydney.

Tactus: derived from Latin, ‘to touch’, also a term for a 15/16th-century rhythmic measurement.

In 2017, a renaissance flute was recovered from a shipwreck in the Markermeer, North Holland. Made materially fragile by the passage of time, the instrument was nevertheless preserved intact in its watery solitude for 500 years. Archeologists and historians can only speculate on the flute’s origin, directed by material clues, including a small roll of Germanic text found curled inside the instrument. Replicas have since been made of the flute, reviving a sound lost to the ocean for centuries.

The instrument’s journey unfolds in Tactus, a new audio-visual work by Kate Milligan, Olivia Davies, and Jonty Coy. In a meeting of experimental music-making and historically informed performance, this intimate work explores the materiality of cultural heritage as it is transformed by time and water. Field recordings from the Markermeer mingle with chant, sunken voices imploring “Ave, maris stella” (Hail, star of the sea).

An APRA/AMCOS Art Music Fund Commission. Produced by Tura and the WA Museum Boola Bardip. The premiere was supported by the State Government of Western Australia through Department of Local Government Sport and Cultural Industries. Research and development was supported by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body. This project has also been made possible through St George’s College. The following creatives were involved in the premiere concert:

Performance (Historical Repertoire): HIP Company
Stage Design: Tyler Hill
Stage Fabrication: Eli Smith
Projection Design: Steve Berrick
Tura Producer: Tristen Parr