Hi and welcome to the Boxties website
We want our audience to be stimulated and inspired by the emotional and imaginative musical worlds we create, and for our students to learn how to bring such worlds into being. We know that such experiences can nurture empathy, connection and a sense of belonging, and can turn the mind towards possibility and hope rather than narrowness and despair.
Who we are and what we’re about
The Boxties are a 10-piece Chamber Ensemble who perform and teach, inspired by music traditional and modern – music of intensity that speaks to head and heart, and to dancing feet.
The Boxties have twice presented their self-devised show Bound Away to Leave You to full houses at the Cremorne Theatre, appeared in QPAC’s Songs of Hope and Healing concerts in the Brisbane Concert Hall, coordinated the FHEAL Community Choir in support of young refugees, and performed for QPAC’s Spirit of Christmas and Green Jam events.
Teaching is just as important as playing to the Boxties, and their teaching method aims to nurture the same imaginative, charismatic and expressive qualities that the Boxties bring to their own performances.
What we think
We believe that in an environment of ever-narrowing school curricula and ever-tightening government support for the arts, and with our politics becoming ever more polarised and fear driven, society needs broad, generous, rigorous, uplifting music-making and music education more than ever.
We’re inspired by the American writer Dave Eggers when he says “ … with art comes empathy. It allows us to look through someone else’s eyes and know their strivings and struggles. It expands the moral imagination and makes it impossible to accept the dehumanization of others.”
We want to play and teach music that uplifts and speaks of unity, not division. We are inspired by the storytelling and tunes of traditional music from England, Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere, and by the inventiveness of the great melting pot of musical theatre. The richness of such material allows for enormous creativity and reinvention. It can speak to us all, regardless of time and place, giving a sense of the humanity we share with people who have gone before, with the singer or player bringing us the music now, and with our fellow creatures who may also be listening.
We strive to cultivate and teach music in that spirit, so that eyes shine with delight at the magic of musical communication and the power of shared emotion.
We offer an alternative to the formulaic, processed, corporate music that dominates so much of our culture and the testing and technology obsessed learning so pervasive in schools.
Over 25 years of experience in music education, the Boxties have developed an award-winning, internationally recognised teaching methodology that works for people of all ages and abilities.
Our work with young refugees, in particular, aims both to support them and to bring them together with their peers from other backgrounds in celebration of the musical impulse we all share.
We believe that all the benefits of a musical education – social, artistic, academic and cultural – are enhanced by rich and challenging performing experience. So we offer disciplined, rigorous learning, grounded in both the body and the brain – imaginative, intellectual, physical and collaborative, that consciously aims to create a sense of belonging, and mutual support.
Boxty: An Irish potato pancake with a characteristic smooth, fine-grained consistency – a fine namesake for a group delving into the Irish musical tradition and its many relatives and offshoots.
A Net of Souls: Songs of Dislocation and Common Ground
7.30pm 27, 28 and 29 June 2019
Cremorne Theatre QPAC
The Boxties return to QPAC with some old songs for modern times and some modern songs that give voice to timeless themes. A Net of Souls: Songs of Dislocation and Common Ground is a cycle of songs about the great forces that engulf us, overturning the lives of individuals, families, whole communities. Music old and new about turmoil, upheaval and love - the greatest disrupter of all. Music about the scattering of people across the world and the connections that remain, with songs by Billy Bragg, June Tabor, Sting and others.
The Boxties are a highly accomplished group of singers and players who have developed a distinctive, dynamic style. Their music is based in folk traditions, but with an eclectic contemporary feel extending to music theatre, pop and cabaret. QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas has described them as “utterly compelling” and “one of the most significant contemporary music ensembles to emerge from Brisbane in recent years”.
A Net of Souls is built on the artistic vision of Boxties directors Steph McCaw and Ashreya Ward, and on the power of eight strong musical personalities playing off each other. The musicians’ on-stage interaction generates the group’s particular character and distinctive sound, and enables them to form an emotional connection with their audience.
Music is always at the core of what The Boxties do, combined with strong theatrical, spoken word and audio-visual elements to amplify its immediacy and impact.
A Net of Souls builds on previous Boxties successes Bound Away to Leave You and City of Strangers, which both played to full houses at QPAC. The ensemble is once again working with regular collaborators David Walters (lighting), Bill Haycock (design), and James Harper (spoken word).