The hauntingly beautiful vocals of Katie Noonan will return to the Queensland Conservatorium this September as she brings her latest project to Brisbane Festival.

A multi-platinum, five-time ARIA Award-winning artist and Queensland Conservatorium alumnus, Dr Noonan is known for her diverse and innovative musical talents but has for years dreamed of singing in an a capella ensemble championing new Australian works and storytelling.

That dream is now a reality, with the creation of AVÉ — Australian Vocal Ensemble.

AVÉ brings together four of Australia’s finest vocalists in a visionary performance combining heavenly vocals in a chamber setting with Ms Noonan joined by Fiona Campbell, Andrew Goodwin and Andrew O’Connor to explore late Renaissance and Baroque music as well as modern Australian pieces.

Dr Noonan said the group’s song cycle consists entirely of Australian composers with half of those hailing from Brisbane.

“The overall work has a very strong sense of creative DNA from Meanjin/Brisbane,” she said.

“I am a fiercely proud Queensland musician, and I was thrilled to commission the wonderful Stephen Leek, who taught me composition at the Conservatorium in the late 90s and was such an integral force in the development of a cappella singing in Australia.

Katie Noonan

Queensland Conservatorium alumnus Katie Noonan

“I am all about collaborating with artists from different vernaculars – dancers, writers, filmmakers, poets, composers, classical musicians, non-classical musicians, physical theatre artists, painters, DJs etc.

“It is wonderful to work with artists who are equally obsessed with their own creative expression in different ways and I’m so thankful my dream team of singers were motivated to come on board with this project.”

Dr Noonan has returned to her first love of classical music for Tumbling Like Stars with her Conservatorium journey starting at ten years of age studying piano with Regis Danillon.

Starting an opera degree in 1995 aged 17, she soon transitioned to a jazz degree and discovered the limitless freedom of improvisation and new harmonic worlds.

“What I loved about my time at the Con was that I found my tribe and was able to live in multiple musical worlds,” Dr Noonan said.

“I studied opera, I sang modern classical works, I studied jazz, I started two bands (rock/pop band George and folk/jazz trio Elixir), I studied extended improvisation with the brilliant John Rodgers and Ken Edie, I sang in the Con Artists Big Band with the amazing John Hoffman, I worked with Jonathan Dimond, Ken Edie and Jamie Clarke in their band Loops, I got to sing a bunch of wonderful new works with the Compost crew featuring young composers Julian Day, Luke Jaaniste, Freeman McGrath et al. all while trying to find my unique voice as a singer/composer/songwriter/pianist surrounded by varied and rich influences.

“For me, music truly is limitless and I am very grateful my voracious appetite for new challenges was encouraged.

“I owe a lot to Simone de Haan (Head of the Conservatorium at the time) and Jonathan Dimond for their open-minded leadership.”

AVÉ is looking forward to performing its Tumbling Like Stars album for Brisbanites and hope the concert instils a renewed sense of cultural pride in the extraordinary story and song makers of our town.

“Some of the best musicians, writers and creatives in the world live and work here, and it feels like we are starting to realise the importance and value of our own artists and our own stories.”

AVÉ: Australian Vocal Ensemble – Tumbling Like Stars is happening 10 September 2023 at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University 140 Grey Street, South Brisbane.

Tickets available through the Brisbane Festival website.