A collection of music videos of electronic music compositions by Barry Ferrier. [6 videos].
A collection of music videos of songs by Barry Ferrier. [8 videos - click on links above].
The Fairlight CMI (short for Computer Musical Instrument) is one of the earliest complete music workstations with embedded digital sampling synthesizer. It was introduced in 1979 by the founders of Fairlight, Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, in Sydney, Australia. It rose to prominence in the early 1980s and competed in the emerging hi-tech music market with the Synclavier from New England Digital.
Barry Ferrier was introduced to composing on the Fairlight during downtime whileworking as a recording session musician for producer Ian Mason at the iconic Music Farm Studios in Mullumbimby NSW. He later became a regular composer for the Queensland Performing Arts Trust at Brisbane's QPAC. A Fairlight had been purchased by the trust and Barry's knowledge of the computer music instrument was utilised in many theatre shows, workshops and installations during the mid to late 80s.
In 1984 Barry Ferrier was commissioned by the Queensland Performing Arts Trust to compose and perform a concert at the QPAC Concert Hall that was to be an exposition of state of the art digital technology in a performing arts context, featuring the then cutting edge Fairlight CMI IIX and the newly released Fairlight Video Instrument. The performances featured the Fairlight CMI as part of a rockband, as a "member" of a wind quintet and as the soundtrack to a modern dance piece, choreographed by Ginny Bradley with the Vision Dance ensemble, entitled "Chrysalis". The performance included prepared video clips on a giant screen as well as live video processed through a Fairlight video instrument. The prepared videos used text by Australian composer Percy Grainger who had written a prescient piece on a future music technolgy at the turn of the 19th century which described in uncaany detail the concept of the Fairlight CMI.
Barry Ferrier has recently been recognised for his pioneering work as an electronic music composer by inclusion of one of his compositions in an exhibition mounted as a celebration of the birth of the Fairlight Computer Music Instrument at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra on Sept 2nd, 2016.
For some there are two Brisbanes – the one before World Expo ‘88 and the new more confident and progressive one that emerged after. Many performers and musicians found an exciting forum for their work at this vibrant hi-tech showcase with a Festival atmosphere and exhibits from many nations of the world. Barry Ferrier won the prestigious contract to compose and produce hi-tech music quadrophonic soundtracks for the QANTAS sponsored Light Fantastic Night Parade which travelled through the Expo '88 site daily.
Designed to rival the famous Disneyland Parades, World Expo '88 featured two daily parades - the 'Food!'-themed Expo Day Parade - and the 'Hermaphro - Queen of the Night'-themed QANTAS Light Fantastic Night Parade.
August 1994 – October 1994 (3 months) Australia
I had the privelige of working with and becoming friends with the great diva Eartha Kitt, working as her band leader and guitarist during her 1994 Concert Tour of Australia. Performances included the Perth, Adelaide and Canberra and Penrith Entertainment Centres, The State Theatre Sydney, and the Brisbane and Melbourne Hilton, the tour produced by Gavan Evans. This was a very intense period for me as I had also taken a contract to compose and direct the music for "Dreamtime People", a large stage hi-tech stage production depicting the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime for tourists at Sancturary Cove Queensland, featuring a cast of 9 aboriginal actors - a major contact for me as a composer, presenting a very challenging cultural landscape (I wrote an honours thesis on this for my Bachelor of Letters Hons. degree).
Band members: Barry Ferrier, guitar; Fred Cole, piano; Maurice Cernigoi, bass; Warwick Alder, trumpet; Bob Birtles & Tony Buchanan, saxophone; various drummers.
About Eartha Kitt
Eartha Kitt (January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008) was a living legend - an American actress, singer, cabaret star, dancer, stand-up comedian, activist and voice artist, known for her highly distinctive singing style and her 1953 recordings of "C'est Si Bon" and the enduring Christmas novelty smash "Santa Baby", which were both US Top 10 hits.
She starred in 1967 as Catwoman, in the third and final season of the television series Batman.
Orson Welles once called her the "most exciting woman in the world".
Kitt began her career in 1943 and appeared in the 1945 original Broadway production of the musical Carib Song.
In the early 1950s, she had six US Top 30 hits, including "Uska Dara" and "I Want to be Evil".
Her other notable recordings include the UK Top 10 hit "Under the Bridges of Paris" (1954), "Just an Old Fashioned Girl" (1956) and "Where Is My Man" (1983).
In 1968, her career in America suffered dramatically after she made anti-war statements to President Lindon Johnson at a White House luncheon and made the peace sign from the balcony to protestors camped outside. Asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War, she replied: "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot." The Johnson's took great offense and their power meant she could suddenly get no work as an entertainer and she was forced to move to Europe for some years at the peak of her career and earning capacity, something she was bitter about.
Ten years later, she made a successful return to Broadway in the 1978 original production of the musical Timbuktu!, for which she received the first of her two Tony Award nominations. Her second was for the 2000 original production of the musical The Wild Party.
For her voice role as Yzma in the animated series The Emperor's New Groove (2006–08), she won two Emmy Awards.
She won a third Emmy posthumously in 2010 for The Wonder Pets.
In 1983 Barry co-wrote (with journalist, social issue campaign specialist and media lecturer Gerald Frape) the musical comedy of terrors "Goodnight World", which enjoyed a 4 week season at Brisbane's historic La Boite Theatre in October 1984 (a suitably Orwellian year).
Directed by the talented award winning writer/director Mary Hickson and with a cast of 16 young actors the show was set in a television studio on the eve of Armageddon. "Goodnight World" is a current affairs program that goes to air at midnight, and tonight the show is dedicated to Doomsday Theories - however, as fate would have it, Atomic Annihilation swept the world . The cast is trapped in the underground tv studio - and the show must go on. Various characters were to appear on the show for a discussion of this futuristic theories of the looming dangers of modern society. It featured Barry Ferrier as Professor E.H. Bagwash (complete with bad Russion accent) who was here to demonstrate the future of humanity - an android...
"Is the real purpose of the human race to breed a race of perfect Androids - a being that doesn't hate, that makes rational decisions not influenced by greed and xenophobia, an intelligent creature that doesn't destroy it's own environment? "
The Android was played by Tracey Tainsh (known for the films Frenchman's Farm (1987), The Power, the Passion (1989) and Bootleg (1985) . The professor is ultimately whipped to death by his robotic stage assistant when she suffers a system malfunction while singing a torch song verson of "The Android" (see a video version of the song). Rebecca Frith another outstanding Australian actress, known for Love Serenade (1996), Me Myself I (1999) and Fetch (1998), and NIDA graduate Jeremy Godwin also appeared in the cast. Prominent Brisbane multi instrumentalist Donald Hall was band leader and vocal coach for the project.
The show received a rave review from the Australian celebrating it's pop melodies and recommending it move to other capitol cities, but alas it was not to be.
Steve J. Spears, 1951-2007
After Barry finished the third season of Jesus Christ Superstar he auditioned for Africa : the Savage Musical written by Australian playwright Steve J. Spears. The cast included Steve J. Spears, Rodney Bain OBE (aka Felix b. Tonto), Rod Smith, Glenda Lum and Pam Miller (later a member of pop band the Ferrets) with Peter Inglis as musician and the show toured university campuses in 4 states. It was a savage look at the plight of indigenous Australians by drawing a parallel with South Africa's apartheid and featured some very catchy songs, slapstick and physical satire.
Barry Ferrier's first venture into music theatre came after a chance encounter of a queue of people with guitars outside the Capitol Theatre led to a successful audition for the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Jesus Christ, Superstar. He played the role of one of Jesus' twelve disciples and an understudy role as a Pharisee, performing 8 shows a week for nearly two years, at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney and the Palais Theatre in Melbourne.
Lindsay Kemp is an influential British dancer, actor, teacher, mime artist and choreographer who had a major impact on the Australian Theatre scene when his Company performed in Sydney and Melbourne in the 70s. He passed away in 2018.
After meeting music director Andrew Thomas Wilson at a cast party for "Joseph & the Amazing technicolour Dreamcoat" and spending a weekend jamming with Andrew at my flat in Manly, I was invited to join his internationally celebrated Lindsay Kemp Company and worked with this ensemble in Kemp's adaption of Jean Genet's "Flowers" at the Comedy and Her Majesties Theatres in Melbourne. I had been offered a part in the original Mad Max film just about to be shot through my agent Faith Martin, but it was then just a low budget film project with unknown stars, such as a fledgling Mel Gibson, so I turned down my opportunity to become an international film star to take on what was, at the time, the biggest "break" a young composer could have in Australia.
I went on to spend some months composing the musical score (in collaboration with Andrew Wilson) for the Oscar Wilde play "Salome", which we performed at the New Arts Cinema, Glebe, and which later went on on to a sell out season at the Roundhouse in London. The London Times described the music for this production as "thrilling".
The score was partly prepared quadrophonic tape, mixed at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music quadrophic studio, with myself performing a range of pseudo middle eastern music on my collection of exotic instruments with Andrew contributing then futuristic spaciousness on his huge Modular Moog. In the show itself I played a range of percussion instruments, though I had a cameo role playing "La Paloma" on a mandolin, at Lindsay's feet, in the court of Herod. I recall in pre-production Lindsay asking for "the Wings of the Angel of Death" to fly from the back of the theatre to the stage - a challenging sound cue - and one of the climaxes of the show, the Dance of the Seven Veils, was a mesmerising orgasmic dance extravanganza with eerie smashing glass sounds spinning in dizzy quadrophic spaciality around the theatre, as I bashed away enthusiastically on drums and cymbals.
I was the only "straight" guy in an ensemble of eccentric and gay theatrical divas, chosen for their stunning physical beauty and artistic abilities as dance/mim performers, at the very dawn of the Gay Revolution. My partner at the time, documentary film maker Nikki Ma, was working on the opulent costuming and I recall a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope of memories amidst a constant weird atmosphere from the cast's consumption of various mind altering substances. I was young and relatively innocent and it was an absolutely thrilling epsiode in my life. I spent much of my downtime time during rehearsals and later performances in a flat adjoing the theatre with the blind dancer Jack Birkett, or the Great Orlando. He was a charismatic performer with powerful singing voice. When working with Kemp in Italy in 1966, he began to lose his sight, attempting a variety of cures ranging from surgery to bee-stings. He nevertheless became entirely blind, but responded by growing more extreme in his performances and his persona. He passed in 2010. A huge personality, and a talented and delightfully funny man. Jack became a great friend at the time - and I remember how cast members would have to subtly point him towards the audience at times, as he groped around in his darkness, always stealing the show. I have some vivid memories of escorting Lindsay to theatre performances around Sydney in a tuxedo, including one celebrated night at the Sydney Opera House for a performance of a John Cage ballet, where I met my then experimental musical heroes John Cage & David Tudor.
Lindsay Kemp is also famous as a mentor to David Bowie, and first met David Bowie in the summer of 1967 and instructed him on the benefits of mime applied to any theatrical presentation. The Kemp - Bowie association together produced many new and exciting ideas and influences for the young David, who later remarked 'I owe it all to Lindsay' .