Portrait of Michael Sollis squatting and looking upwards towards a source of light.
Michael Sollis, Australian composer (Image: Keith Saunders)
Michael Sollis is an interdisciplinary artist who promotes how the arts can nurture creative mindsets which generate new ideas.

This has included his work as founder, composer and director of the acclaimed Griffyn Ensemble, and as the very first Artistic Director, Education for Musica Viva Australia.

Michael’s approach of enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to discover their own unique creative pathway is integrated into his practice as a creator. Michael regularly collaborates with scientists, First Nations custodians and sporting communities to create works that combine ethnographic film with new music. This includes performance pieces such as The Milk Carton Confessions – exploring motives for why we recycle; One Sky Many Stories – with Aranda singer-songwriter Warren Williams; and The Dirty Red Digger – capturing stories of belonging in Rugby League communities.

As a teaching artist, Michael works with diverse communities across the world. This includes 15 years of teaching early primary school students; facilitating international projects in places such as Scottish prisons, Egyptian schools, and workshops in Papua New Guinea; work in urban, rural and remote schools across Australia; and lecturing in composition at the Australian National University.

Michael’s passion for music is matched by his passion for Rugby League, being a first grade stalwart for  he Gungahlin Bulls in the Canberra Raiders Cup, and he continues to work to promote exchange between sporting and arts communities. Michael is also a noted researcher within the interdisciplinary fields of anthropology-composition-linguistics. His work on sung stories in the Papua New Guinea highlands has been published by ANU E-Press and the Australian Journal of Linguistics.

PROGRAM NOTE
MICHAEL SOLLIS (B. 1985)
MIRAGE

It gets hot in Marble Bar in the Pilbara of Western Australia. Back in 1923, on the 31st October, the temperature hit the ‘century’ – 37.8 degrees Celsius, or 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It did it again for the next 159 days until April 7th in 1924 – a world record heatwave.

The highest temperature during the spell was 47 and a half on January 18th, 1924. Back in 1905 it had been hotter with 49.2 on the 11th January. They had 49.2 on the 3rd January in 1922 as well.

Mardie, also in Western Australia reached 50.5 in February 1998. Oodnadatta in South Australia was 50.7 in January 1960. That’s our hottest ever.

On average, Marble Bar experiences 154 days above 37.8°C each year.

In Queensland, Longreach can get hot too but warming with climate change is expected to be strong there. Currently they average 17 days each year of 40 degrees or more. They expect 54 by 2030 and by 2070, 155 days each year over 40 degrees. 155 days of shimmering relentless heat. Imagine yourself, trapped, chasing mirages, shimmering in the distance.

Mirage was commissioned by the Canberra International Music Festival in 2012 for a concert celebrating the works of Manning Clark, performed by Kiri Sollis and Michael Askill. It featured in The Griffyn Ensemble’s Cloudy With A Chance of Rain, with the above introduction from former weatherman and geomorphologist Rob Gell. Mirage involves both musicians seemingly chasing each other – both musically, and physically – inspired by imagery from the Australian desert.

© Michael Sollis

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