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'... his affinity for music making as an expression of not just who we are but how we are, is palpable... as is his great humanity.'
– Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award Citation 2012

In 2019 Helpmann Award-winning composer Iain Grandage brought some of the finest contemporary voices (Missy Higgins, Kate Miller-Heidke, Emma Donovan and Meow Meow) to UKARIA as part of a four-part series showcasing Australia's women of song. Iain accompanied them all on cello and piano, amplifying their multifaceted talents with exquisite new arrangements for strings specially tailored to the intimacy of UKARIA.

After the completion of his term as Artistic Director of the Perth Festival in March 2024, he returns to UKARIA to curate a new four-part series that features wordsmiths and songsmiths, performers and poets, all collaborating with exquisite musicians of the highest order. These contemporary weavers of story and song will bring all-new creations into the hall at UKARIA, singing stories of human connection and joy.

Weavers of Story and Song is generously supported by the Lang Family Foundation.



Iain Grandage | Curator

Iain Grandage recently completed a five-year tenure as Artistic Director of the Perth Festival where he was celebrated for bringing a sweeping sense of place to the Festivals he curated, with a strong commitment to Noongar artists and stories standing alongside events of scale like Highway to Hell. Previously, he has been Artistic Director of the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, curated the fine music program for the Adelaide Festival (Chamber Landscapes), been Composer-in-Residence with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from UWA and received the prestigious Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award.

He has conducted orchestras in London, Berlin, Amsterdam and around Australia for projects with artists including Gurrumul, Kate Miller-Heidke, Meow Meow and Tim Minchin. As music director, he has won Helpmann Awards for his work with Meow Meow's Little Match Girl, Sydney Theatre Company's The Secret River and was music director and arranger for Opera Australia's critically lauded new opera The Rabbits by Kate Miller-Heidke and Lally Katz. He has conducted and presented for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Education program and is a highly regarded communicator on music and the arts more broadly.

Iain's concert works have been performed in Australia and around the world. Highlights include the Victorian Opera production of his opera The Riders, based on the Tim Winton novel, and Towards First Light, for the Centenary of ANZAC Day in 2016 with text by Kate Mulvany. He was also attached to the Tim Minchin-led animated feature for Dreamworks called Larrikins, working alongside Hans Zimmer. He has collaborated with Steve Pigram, Mark Atkins and Richard Tognetti on the ACO's multimedia presentation The Reef, as well as with the late Barry Humphries and Meow Meow for the ACO's Weimar Cabaret

Virginia Gay | Voice

Virginia Gay graduated WAAPA, then spent four years pretending to be a nurse on All Saints, six months pretending to be Julia Gillard in the Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf Revue, and five years on Winners & Losers, where she pretended to know a lot about high finance. That last one, particularly, was a stretch.

She won a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Actress for Calamity Jane, starred in the film Punch & Judy (also starring Mia Wasikowska) which premiered at Sundance, and wrote and directed her short film Paper Cut, which made 2018 Tropfest finals. She starred in Savage River (dir. Jocelyn Moorehouse) for Aquarius Films (ABC, Paramount+), which also starred Katherine Langford, and Safe Home (SBS and Imogen Banks), also starring Aisha Dee. She was nominated for a Most Outstanding Actress Logie for playing Magda Szubanski's wife on After the Verdict (Channel 9), and was a grand finalist in 2023's Dancing with the Stars.

In 2020 she wrote two new plays: an adaptation of Cyrano for the Melbourne Theatre Company which sold out its triumphant 2022 run and also toured to the Perth Festival in 2023, and The Boomkak Panto for Belvoir which was a smash hit for Christmas 2021. She starred in both and also co-directed The Boomkak Panto.

She's been an apocalyptic squid in Eddie Perfect's Vivid White, a prize bitch in The Beast, every stop on the bogan-to-hipster spectrum in On the Production of Monsters, and Nancye Hayes' granddaughter in Minnie and Liraz, all for the MTC. She played pacifist, suffragist, and feminist Vida Goldstein in The War That Changed Us (ABC), and a fast-talking 1930s photographer in High Society (Hayes Theatre Company). She has a sold-out season at the Opera House of Cautionary Tales for Children (Arena Theatre Company), and was Bea Miles, iconic (and homeless) Sydney eccentric, in the immersive-theatre experience Hidden Sydney.

She has written two solo cabaret shows, Song to Self-Destruct To and Dirty Pretty Songs, both of which sold out at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and which toured nationally and internationally, notably headlining the Famous Spiegeltent at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe. She also hosted cultural phenomenon La Clique in Leicester Square in Christmas 2019. In 2024 Virginia is proud to be taking on the role of Artistic Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. 

She makes regular appearances on Thank God You're Here, Mark Humphries' sketches for 7.30 (ABC), The Book Club (ABC), Adam Hills' In Gordon Street Tonight (ABC), Good News Week (Channel 10), Studio at the Memo (Foxtel), The Unbelievable Truth (Channel 7), and was team captain for CRAM! (Channel 10). She is proud to play Denise Scott's daughter-in-law in ABC's reboot for Mother and Son, and appears in a series of increasingly-unhinged cameos on Channel 7's new sketch show We Interrupt This Broadcast.

Her most recent television appearance is on series two of Colin from Accounts, coming in 2024. 

Loren Kate | Voice

When Loren Kate finished secondary school, she set out in search of adventure. Armed with only a guitar, a backpack and a few dollars in her pocket, she jumped on a train and travelled 800km North to Byron Bay.

In this bustling coastal town, Loren Kate began busking and learning more about music from the local street folk. It was there, at age 18, that Loren penned her first song. It wasn't long before the crowds began to gather to listen to her stories.

Loren Kate is now a multi-award-winning artist, recently winning the Americana Category of the prestigious International Songwriting Competition. Loren has earned the reputation as an utterly captivating performer and brilliant storyteller and has played countless sell-out shows and festivals all over the country.

Loren's latest record, Nobody Knows, was released in 2022. Nobody Knows was recorded and produced by Shane Nicholson, at the Sound Hole, NSW. The album is a timeless collection of stunning new songs. With raw emotion at the forefront, wearing her stories and life experiences on her sleeve, Loren Kate once again bares her heart and soul for us to hear.

Loren Kate's songwriting is undeniably beautiful – she writes with a depth and passion that is rare and inspiring.

Jess Hitchcock | Voice

Jess Hitchcock is a Melbourne-based Indigenous singer-songwriter who has stirred the Australian music and performing arts scene as a genre-defying force. Her powerful voice and knack for storytelling has seen her shine across pop, country, folk, opera and music theatre, sharing the stage and studio with some of Australia's favourites.

One of Jess's most notable collaborations is with legendary Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly. Together they performed and recorded Paul's song, 'Every Day My Mother's Voice', earning standing ovations across the nation. You can occasionally find Jess in Paul's band on vocals and percussion. Jess has also collaborated with Archie Roach, Tina Arena and Kate Miller-Heidke.

Jess's much anticipated album, Unbreakable, was released mid 2023 and reached #4 in the AIR charts. Her original material is equal parts dramatic as it is playful, always showcasing her vocal prowess. Unbreakable's first single, 'I Don't Have the Heart,' was described by The Music as 'an arena-sized pop ballad.'

When Jess is not on stage with her own band, or joining forces with Australian music legends, Jess lends her mezzo-soprano vocals to select performing arts companies, including MSO, SSO, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Victorian Opera and Opera Queensland. In 2024 Jess will head over to Perth to work on the international Festival's production of Wundig wer Wilura.

Born with heritage from the Torres Strait Islands and Papua New Guinea, Jess's artistic diversity and adroitness are seldom seen in someone as young as her. The way she navigates her creative path is a rare find and nothing short of inspirational.

Gillian Cosgriff | Voice

Gillian is a singer, writer, actor, musician, composer and comedian who graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2010 with a Bachelor of Music Theatre. Her 2023 solo show, Actually, Good, garnered rave reviews at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and won the award for Most Outstanding Show and the Golden Gibbo (for Best Independent Show).

Theatre credits include: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Sonia Friedman Productions, Colin Callender and Harry Potter Theatrical Productions); Come Rain or Come Shine (Melbourne Theatre Company); Godspell (Hayes Theatre Company); Vivid White (Melbourne Theatre Company); Company (Watch This); and Loving Repeating (Vic Theatre Company). Television credits include: Aunty Donna's Coffee CaféComedy Up LateUpfront GalaTonightlyOffspringHouse HusbandsFat Tony & Co.Ricketts LaneGet Krack!n, and Back in Very Small Business.

She has toured extensively with her solo shows as a comedian and cabaret performer, most notably at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Leicester Square Theatre in London. She co-wrote the opera Lorelei for Victorian Opera with Casey Bennetto and Julian Langdon in 2018, which premiered at the Malthouse Theatre. In 2020 she directed Michelle Brasier's show Average Bear, which was nominated for Best Show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and has since gone on to play the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Soho Theatre in London, as well as a filmed special release on Paramount+.

Véronique Serret | Violin

Véronique is a violinist, vocalist and composer effortlessly bridging the divide between classical and contemporary art forms. Folk, rock, experimental jazz, dance and improvisation all contribute to her musical palette.

One of Australia's most versatile musicians, Véronique is equally at home on the concert hall platform and the rock n roll stage. The 'Girl from Guildford' has carved a niche for herself directing string sections for rock bands, indie artists, feature films and studio sessions.

A soloist and collaborative artist, Véronique has deep gratitude for her early rigorous classical training and her many teachers and mentors along the way. Over many decades she has been fortunate to work extensively with Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Dance Company and as concertmaster of the Darwin Symphony. She has directed live string sections for the likes of Gurrumul, Jónsi, Fleet Foxes, Neil Finn, Sarah Blasko, Amanda Palmer, The Cinematic Orchestra, Neil Gaiman, Damon Albarn, Kate Miller-Heidke, Ed Keupper, Martha Marlow, Mike Patton and Tim Minchin.

She has played in bands with Indigenous songman Archie Roach, been in residence with Laurie Anderson, performed at major festivals including Barunga, Garma, MoFo, WOMAD and Woodford and has appeared as soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performing Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa at the Sydney Opera House and toured Europe and South America with Sydney Dance Company performing Bach's Partita No. 2 in D minor to critical acclaim. This was also her debut album release.

A regular in the recording studio, Véronique regularly collaborates with Australia's film composers and can be heard on countless Australian soundtracks and albums.

In the late 1990s Véronique co-founded the band CODA and since 2010 she has been a member of Joanna Newsom's international touring band as a multi-instrumentalist and backing vocalist.

Véronique is now dedicated to the creation of new music and the exploration of sound through diverse collaborations. She is a member of art music group Ensemble Offspring and has her own duo project with didgeridoo legend William Barton. Together their recent compositions include Bushfire Requiem (2020), commissioned by Artology, for Sydney Festival; Songlines for our Universe (2021), written whilst in residence at the Sydney Observatory; Heartland (2019), commissioned by Canberra International Music Festival; and Kalkani (2020), commissioned by the ABC. This work features in a beautiful award-winning dance film Urritjara by Tim Georgeson. 

Véronique's own music blends loops, delays, reverbs and vocals defining the expression of the violin. Utilising both her acoustic and six-string electric violins, various percussive elements and field recordings, she orchestrates her ever-shifting landscape. Véronique merges sounds of old and new to create her flow, a nod to the past, yet firmly planted in the present day. Véronique's own language is activated by the raw sounds of the Australian bush, the island vibes of her native Mauritius sprinkled with scenes from a life on the road, her love of solo trekking and deep listening. All unite to generate a contemporary, sonic forcefield.

In 2020, Véronique was fortunate to spend time in residence at the Peggy Glanville Hicks house in Sydney's Paddington where she developed her own unique compositional voice. She was awarded a Career Development Grant (2019) by the Australia Council for the Arts enabling her to continue exploring this path of creativity and quiet activism through music.

Véronique is passionate about inclusivity, the environment, and ashtanga yoga. 

She plays a 1900 Leandro Bisiach violin and a six-string custom violin by Paul Davies.

Samuel Pankhurst | Bass / Guitar

Samuel has performed with Allan Browne OAM, Paul Grabowsky, Bernie McGann, Missy Higgins, Iain Grandage, Louis Burdett, John Rose, Kate Miller-Heidke, Erkki Veltheim, Andrew D'Angelo (USA), the Sun Ra Arkestra, Brian Ritchie (USA), Erik Griswold (USA), Vanessa Tomlinson, Tony Buck, Katie Noonan, The Brodsky Quartet (UK), Mike Nock, and Indigenous artists William Barton and Aunty Delmae Barton. He is a member of the Australian Art Orchestra and has premiered works by Alvin Lucier (USA), Nicole Lizee (CAN), and Paul Grabowsky.

Pankhurst's collaboration with Butchulla songman Fred Leone – Yirinda – combines ancient Butchulla songlines with Samuel's eclectic contrabass and compositional style. They were standout acts at 2019 Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic; Artists in Residence in Residence at MONA FOMA in 2019; and performed at Golden Plains Festival 2020. 

Samuel is currently developing a large-scale installation/performance piece with legendary Indigenous artist Archie Moore. The piece tackles Australia's rich tapestry of racism in the media. He is working on a major commission to write for the Australian Art Orchestra and Yirinda, plus a new sound design for prominent Indigenous dancer/choreographer Thomas Kelly.

As a producer/musical director he has worked with celebrated indie rock act 'The Trouble With Templeton' (Bella Union Records UK), GRAMMY Award nominated Hiatus Kaiyote, Brisbane art-punk iconoclast Gerald Keaney and the Gerald Keaneys, and legendary Indigenous singer-songwriter Shellie Morris. Samuel was commissioned to compose the original score for City Crush and Leisure by filmmaker Mia Forrest. Both have been screened extensively at festivals around the world whilst the former was selected by the Cannes Film Festival.

Pankhurst is a composer, sound designer and audio editor for Wunungu Awara as well as dialogue editor on Bluey. He curates a monthly DIY open mic night called Vomit Cabaret and is the owner and artistic director of Poverty Castles: an East Brisbane-based record label which works with super-marginal local artists, on their terms. 

Aurora Vocal Ensemble | Directed by Christie Anderson

Aurora is the senior vocal ensemble of internationally renowned South Australian youth choir school Young Adelaide Voices, under the direction of award-winning conductor Christie Anderson. A diverse and talented ensemble, Aurora performs a range of repertoire from early music to contemporary folk and pop and they are committed to performing contemporary Australian music.

Aurora have been onstage with The Rolling Stones and in the orchestral pit for the Australian Ballet's A Midsummer Night's Dream. They have participated in several Adelaide Festival productions, including Brink Theatre Company's Memorial in 2018 and National Geographic: Symphony for our World in 2019. They were also guest artists for the Desert Song Festival on Mparntwe Country, Alice Springs, that same year.

Aurora recorded the vocal tracks for Netanela Mizrahi and Mr Gurruwiwi’s The Djari Project in 2020. The group performed on Larrakia Country for Darwin Festival the following year for the premiere and launch alongside Netanela, Mr Gurruwiwi, and The Arafura Collective. The Djari Project won a National Indigenous Music Award in 2021. The album was one of ABC Classic's feature albums for NAIDOC Week 2022.

In 2020 Aurora collaborated with Gravity & Other Myths to create The Pulse, which opened Adelaide Festival in 2021. Aurora opened Adelaide Festival again in 2022 with MACRO, alongside Gravity & Other Myths, Djuki Mala, and Yellaka. MACRO celebrated and explored the spirit of place.

Aurora was invited to participate in the inaugural A Cappella Academy at UKARIA Cultural Centre in 2022 with Timothy Wayne-Wright, and for its second year in 2023 with Ensemble-in-Residence, The Gesualdo Six. They will return for the 2024 UKARIA A Capella Academy with VOCES8.

In 2023, Aurora performed at WOMAD, with a program highlighting the ensemble's diverse range of repertoire: from folk to classical to contemporary. This year the group delivered two unique shows for Adelaide Fringe, both grounded in deep listening and storytelling.

Aurora is based and rehearses on Kaurna Country.

Christie Anderson | Director – Aurora Vocal Ensemble

A singer and award-winning conductor, Christie Anderson has been Artistic Director of the youth choir school Young Adelaide Voices (YAV) since 2010. Additionally, she became the Artistic Director and Conductor of Adelaide Chamber Singers (ACS) in 2022 – a choir that has been her home and heart for many years. She has sung, conducted and presented numerous times on the national and international stage. 

As Artistic Director of YAV, Christie has developed a Composer in Residence and Commissioning program, a choir for young men, and the WATU Youth Choir Festival, which has been supporting young singers between the ages of 12–19 from South Australia and nationally since 2015.

Christie is a regular guest conductor at the Gondwana National Choral School and has been guest presenter across Australia, including Festival of Voices, Desert Song Festival in Alice Springs and the Darwin Festival. In 2021, Christie and Aurora Vocal Ensemble won a National Indigenous Music Award for their recording of The Djari Project with Galpu songman, Mr Gurruwiwi, and Netanela Mizrahi. 

At the 2022 Adelaide Festival, Christie was Musical Director and Conductor of the award-winning production, Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan, with ACS, composer Joe Twist, director Neil Armfield AO, and librettists Alana Valentine and Christos Tsiolkas. In 2023, Christie was Chorus Master of Messa da Requiem with Zurich Ballet (Adelaide Festival), conducted Aurora’s solo debut at WOMADelaide, and ACS’ first Dark Mofo performance.

This year, Christie will work with and conduct the Dortmund Women’s Chorus for performances of The Pulse at the Ruhrspielfest in Germany, and tour to the south of France for two choral festivals with YAV. She is guest Artistic Director of The Song Company for their September season.

Penny Quartet

Penny Quartet have gained a reputation as a driven and multifaceted voice in Australian chamber music. Founded in early 2014, the group brings a vibrant approach to their performances across the country.

In their inaugural year, they were nominated for the Freedman Fellowship award, were the recipients of the John and Rosemary Macleod Travelling Fellowship and winners of the Australian National Academy of Music Chamber Music Competition. Since then, the Penny Quartet have been an ensemble in residence at the Four Winds Festival, Canberra International Music Festival, presented independent recital tours across Australia as well as Featured Artists with Musica Viva Australia's regional touring program. They made their international debut as full scholarship holders at the St. Lawrence String Quartet seminar at Stanford, CA.

Penny Quartet regularly collaborate and record with various composers and musicians, both independently and as Festival artists. They have been part of the 'Local Heroes' subscription series at the Melbourne Recital Centre since late 2017 and are two-time recipients of the MRC Contemporary Masters Award.

With diverse individual backgrounds and experiences across the globe, the group brings together years of knowledge and training to create a mature quartet sound. The Penny Quartet's repertoire is wide and varied; a love for the core quartet repertoire is intertwined with an urge to explore less charted territory.