Two of Australia’s finest contemporary music ensembles – Topology and Loops – join forces to perform AIRWAVES: 100 Years Of Radio at iconic Brisbane venue, The Princess Theatre.

Celebrating both the medium of radio and key events of the last century, AIRWAVES sees Topology and Loops making music inspired by and featuring some of the most important speeches and broadcasts of our time. Working directly from the inherent melodic qualities within the speeches, the music and recordings weave together to create ‘voice portraits’.

AIRWAVES begins the journey in 2001 before rewinding back through 100 years of radio history all the way to Guglielmo Marconi’s first wireless broadcast across the Atlantic Ocean in December 1901. The voices of political leaders, humanitarian heroes and controversial figures such as Bill Clinton, Princess Diana, Albert Einstein, Virginia Woolf, Martin Luther King, Adolf Hitler, Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Amelia Earheart, a very young Queen Elizabeth II and many others chart a tumultuous century of world events and are transformed into song.

Onstage, the eight artists of Topology and Loops conjure a musical world of strings, saxophone, double bass, guitar, trombone, tabla, piano and drums around these iconic speeches, accompanied by evocative visuals and lighting design.

First performed in 2001, AIRWAVES was inspired by Topology’s Robert Davidson and Loops’ Jonathan Dimond’s shared interest in melodies inspired by speech as well as being mutual fans of each other’s work.

“The idea for the collaboration came before the piece,” Robert explains, “As fans of Loops, Topology was going to their gigs and vice versa and we started talking about collaborating.

Jonathan Dimond (of Loops) and I were particularly interested in co-composing, so we got together to brainstorm ideas. We were both quite aware that the Marconi centenary was coming up, and both were big fans of radio, of twentieth century history, of archival audio as a kind of time travel, and of finding the melody in speech. Jonathan had recently composed a fabulous piece called “Spare Change” that got its melody from the spoken intonation of homeless people he met on the streets in California. I had been composing speech melody pieces in Topology so that was a big overlap, and one we were keen to develop.”

Topology have become very well known and recognised for their many collaborations over the last 25 years including projects with The Brodsky Quartet, Katie Noonan, The Kransky Sisters, QLD Theatre Company, William Barton and Kate Miller-Heidke to name a few. With their strong ties to contemporary jazz, the collaboration with Loops to create AIRWAVES was a natural step.

“The nice thing about working together,” Robert continues, “ is we put a rhythm section – Loops’ guitar bass and drums – with the strings, sax and piano of Topology, which made a large range of instrumentations and styles possible; this was extended further by Jonathan’s expertise on trombone and tabla.”

Flashing forward to 2024, the work takes on even greater relevance with the centenary this year of public radio broadcasting in Australia – a Government initiative of the time to ‘entertain and inform the public’.

“I am excited to be performing Airwaves again,” explains Topology’s Christa Powell, “Loops are incredible musicians and it’s lots of fun adding their sound world to the Topology line up. I am also thrilled we can celebrate another radio centenary. ABC radio has been a huge part of my life as I am sure it is with most Australians. Listening to the radio never gets old – it is one of the few timeless mediums we have and it is definitely worth celebrating.”

Revisiting the work presents an exciting and rare opportunity to see these two ensembles onstage together once more, as well as consider how the work, and world, has evolved.

“Airwaves is quite a roller-coaster ride which is a musical setting of so many of the happenings of the 20th Century,” says Loops’ Jonathan Dimond, “For those that are old enough to have heard our debut performance, it is such a richly multi-layered piece that it deserves repeated listens. Revisiting this work with Topology has been an exhilarating collaboration that aligns with my preferred approach, involving an open mindset and a genuine willingness to embrace change, adapting to new instruments, languages, and traditions on stage.”


Performed By
Composed by Robert Davidson, Jonathan Dimond and Jamie Clark

The Princess Theatre | Wednesday 17 April 2024


Listen to AIRWAVES on Spotify