MUSIC & PERFORMING
From 2004 to 2007 Peter was part of the unique and truly innovative musical trio called QWERTY, along with internationally renowned composer and musician Linsey Pollak and local singer Terry Delany.
QWERTY was performance and musical risk-taking in the extreme. The process that occurred between the three artists was a first in Australia and possibly worldwide. Peter Rowe, the lyricist, has minimal verbal skills and uses Facilitated Communication (FC) to communicate whereby he taps out his words, letter by letter on a small board similar to a keyboard and his facilitator speaks his words out loud.
It is on this board that Peter wrote the lyrics for QWERTY, improvising completely new songs on the board, word by word, which were then read or sung by Terri. This was done at breakneck speed and took considerable practice and rapport. As Terri sang the words Peter wrote she was simultaneously reading the next ones. Her melodies too were totally improvised. At the same time, Linsey was improvising and “live looping” music by playing, recording and building up complex layers of various sounds on his midi WX5 ‘windsynth’ instrument.
No two performances alike
When QWERTY walked onto the stage they didn’t know where the performance would go. They had no idea of the song content or the musical style, let alone such details as key or time signature. Audiences were certainly taken on quite a journey, sometimes emotional, sometimes funny, sometimes philosophical, often intense and always musically eclectic. It was difficult for some people to accept that it was all being created before their eyes and ears, just as some people find it difficult to understand and believe the process of Facilitated Communication.
Over the three years the group was together they performed at many festivals and venues including:
• Woodford Folk Festival
• Music by the Sea Festival in Sandgate
• Cygnet Folk Festival in Tasmania
• Brisbane Fringe Festival
• Adelaide Fringe Festival
• Powerhouse Museum, Sydney (May 2007) View Sydney Morning Herald Article
All three artists agree that this was one of the most extraordinary projects that any of them have worked on. They described it as a process where the sense of self becomes blurred and the ego is consumed by the necessity of absolute group focus. It was improvisation in its purist form, where each performer had to let go of any expectations or preconceptions. There could be no fear when stepping off the edge. The process was undeniably challenging and liberating for all three performers, as well as their appreciative audiences.
Few experiences are as deserving of being labeled ‘A MUST’ in the entertainment world as Qwerty. With sublime aesthetic, playful dynamic and infinite imagination, this ever-ready team of improvisers challenge the moment, themselves and their audience on the threshold between necessary thought provocation and pure raw emotion. They have been a catalyst for more tears, laughter, hope and inspiration than I’ve ever seen in an audience. The reason is because their work is disarmingly real in every sense of our perception and its reflection on our existence. It is quite simply evolutionary art.’
– Carl Pannuzzo
QWERTY is quite simply one of the most extraordinary performances to emerge in recent years……… QWERTY is emotive and challenges audiences musically, socially and philosophically. All this, I believes makes it highly tourable and ‘festival ready’.
– Christie Anthoney (Adelaide Fringe Director)
Visit Linsey Pollak’s website to view video or listen to audio clips from QWERTY’s performances.