Solo Series - 25th Anniversary AAO

This year, the Australian Art Orchestra celebrates its 25th anniversary! To mark the occasion, we're presenting the Solo Series: a monthly video release that puts the spotlight on twelve selected members from our pool of incredible AAO collaborators. Artistic Director Peter Knight speaks about the occasion and the project.

Sunny Kim

Sunny Kim - voice and electronics (watch video here)

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Ethereal yet utterly visceral, Sunny Kim begins with three notes, repeated and picked up by her sampling device.

The darkness around her seems to breathe.

Her voice travels in bright shards - pellucid even through the tiny speakers of a pair of ear buds. It carries life force, culture, and reaches for connection.

I first met Sunny in 2009 in Seoul. We played a bunch of little gigs in the city with Australian bassist Chris Hale. The three of us recorded long improvisations in hotel rooms, ate lots of noodles, and drank soju. Chris and I were transfixed by Sunny’s voice. It seemed to come out of nowhere: one moment she would be laughing and talking, then she would close her eyes and change everything in the room with a single note of almost shocking purity.

More than five years after first hanging out with Sunny in Seoul, Chris and I found ourselves in the position of being able to invite her to come to Australia to be part of the teaching faculty for the Australian Art Orchestra’s Creative Music Intensive residency in Tasmania. There, in the cool Central Highlands, she drew everyone into that rare space she summons with her voice. Three years on from this first visit and Sunny has made Melbourne her home with a position at University of Melbourne. She has also cemented her role in the Australian Art Orchestra as one of our key collaborators.

Sunny and I have been friends and colleagues for a long time now but I have never asked her what happens when she closes her eyes before singing. The release of this solo recording seemed like the perfect opportunity. She tells me that she moves into a deep inner space, a space of listening: “I go inside to fully engage with my senses, to feel and hear the space where music resides.” This doesn’t really surprise me at all but what I still find startling is how the air around her seems to quiet as she focuses inwards.

This quality of deep listening is, I think, what gives really great music its power. Sunny propels her voice towards our ears along with the suggestion of a way to listen to and experience the world. It reaches across the usual impenetrability of the human condition and lets us know we are not alone on this rushing planet.

Solo Series #2
Performance: Sunny Kim
Audio and video producer: Leo Dale
Photography: Sarah Walker
Text: Peter Knight, Artistic Director