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The Usefulness of Art - Adam Simmons Creative Ensemble

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Performed by a world-class 20-piece ensemble
Acclaimed Melbourne composer and musician Adam Simmons returns to fortyfivedownstairs for four nights this August, with a rare opportunity to experience his The Usefulness of Art suite performed by a world-class 20-piece ensemble.

This is the first time The Usefulness of Art has been performed by the Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble alongside an art installation by Filipino sculptor Diokno Pasilan with costumes by Christine Crawshaw.

While The Usefulness of Art suite—with its sublime meditations on the qualities of acceptance, empathy, generosity, compassion and faith—is already known to fans of Simmons' avant-garde trio, Origami, it has only once before been performed live by a larger ensemble, during its creative development process


Earlier this year Joseph Earp of Beat magazine wrote that "… for Simmons, art has a uniquely communal power. His pieces, though obscure, are never difficult, and his performances are always guided by the goal of audience unity."

This will be the second of Simmons' planned five-concert series throughout 2017-18 under the umbrella of The Usefulness of Art, a concept inspired by Auguste Rodin's quote—"I call useful all that gives us happiness... art shows man his raison d'être."

Says Simmons, "I strongly believe art is what helps us connect. In these times, 100 years or so since Rodin made similar observations, I believe this is what we need more of, and these performances are a result of coming to share Rodin's perspective."

The Usefulness of Art was composed in 2012, at a time when arts funding in Australia was being savaged across the board—in schools, TAFEs, universities and the public and private sectors—and public debate was characterised by a lack of empathy. His musical meditations on the unquantifiable qualities that art evokes make for powerful listening, and an experience that is more compelling and relevant than ever to audiences.

For this concert, Simmons will play bass clarinet and lead the ensemble; on saxophones are Samuel Boon, Cara Taber, Gideon Brazil and Paul Simmons; on trumpets are Gemma Horbury and Gavin Cornish; and on trombones are James Wilkinson and Bryn Hills. The redoubtable Howard Cairns—also a member of Origami—will play double bass, alongside Miranda Hill. On drums will be Niko Schauble and Hugh Harvey, and percussion Nat Grant, Carmen Chan, Leah Scholes and Diokno Pasilan. David Brown will play guitar, and Pete Lawler (Weddings, Parties, Anything), space drums.

The first in The Usefulness of Art series, in March 2017, was Simmons' remarkable Concerto for Piano and Toy Band featuring Michael Kieran Harvey. These concerts elicited rapturous praise from critics and audiences alike, including from The Age Classical Reviewer, Clive O'Connell, who wrote, "At a time when really adventurous musical events are rare, this night was a breath of fresh air, leaving you elated with its accomplishment."

An award-winning and world-renowned musician, Simmons redefines the term 'multi-instrumentalist', stretches the boundaries of modern composition, and infuses a sense of childlike wonder and playfulness into musical art forms better known for their gravitas. He has a deserved reputation as one of Australia's most prolific and eclectic musical artists, appearing on festival stages and recordings with some of the world's finest classical and jazz musicians, and is renowned for his inclusive and collaborative performances.

He was recently named as a co-artistic director for the 2017 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, and has just returned from major jazz festivals in Germany and the Netherlands, where he helped facilitate exciting new performance and networking opportunities for Australian musicians.

Tickets are the four The Usefulness of Art performances are now on sale. The concert is 60 minutes long with no interval. All ages welcome and children 12 years and under are free when accompanied by an adult.

Performances will be held from Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th August 2017, 7.30pm each night except Sunday matinee at 3pm.

fortyfivedownstairs is located at 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000. Tickets prices are $35 full / $30 concession and can be purchased from or 03 9662 9966. If you have an enquiry, please contact

Disabled access to the theatre is available via Spark Lane; please contact the venue on (03) 9662 9966 to arrange access.

For more information on this exciting live music event in Melbourne, please visit

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When: Thursday 24 August through to Sunday 27 August 2017
Phone: 03 9662 9966
Where: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000
Cost: $35 full / $30 concession
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