John McCaughey: Musical Director


Tom Johnson’s Rational Melodies (1982)

With new responses (2022) from composers

Warren Burt, Andrew Byrne, David Chesworth,
Wally Gunn, Kate Neal, Catherine Schieve

Celebrating the rational in two performance events

Curated by Andrew Byrne

A milestone of the American experimental-minimalist tradition, Tom Johnson’s Rational Melodies receives its first Australian performance in arrangements for a glittering mix of keyboards and more.

Also featured are works by Australian experimental-minimalist composers who come together for the first time to offer individual reactions to Tom Johnson's landmark piece.

Kim Bastin, Peter Dumsday, Joy Lee, Jennifer Yu keyboards
Alexander Meagher percussion
Vahideh Esa qanun

Instruments: celeste, clavichord, harmonium, harpsichord, melodica, organetto (portative organ), piano, positiv organ, qanun (zither), regal, thumb-piano kalimba, toy piano, with untuned percussion & tabla



duos in motion, with rational words

Saturday 20 August, 5 pm (limited tickets)
The Grainger Museum
Gate 13, The University of Melbourne
Royal Parade, Parkville

Solo and duo performances occupy multiple discrete spaces within the corridors and rooms of the unique Grainger Museum on Royal Parade, temple of Australian experimentalism. With performances of a number of Rational Melodies and commentary by Andrew Byrne, the ‘concert in motion’ is an introduction to Johnson’s landmark work.



full program of arrangements & new works

Saturday 27 August, 7 pm
Church of All Nations
180 Palmerston Street

The complete programme of Johnson’s Rational Melodies with six newly commissioned works performed by seven musicians on the full collection of keyboard and percussion instruments.




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New Quarter-Hour Concerts

New Quarter-Hour Concerts

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Drawing on these past and current elements, mini-concerts are created that never took place as such, from items separated in time and place. New ways open up for Astra's characteristic program experiences, of encounters between different styles and eras in music, both choral and instrumental.

View the entire series of Quarter-Hour concerts.

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Sound in Space documents with images and recordings how musical and architectural designs have formed an interactive partnership over three decades of Astra events.