TEDxSydney unveils 2015 performer line-up

The annual celebration of ideas that is TEDxSydney has announced an eclectic and intriguing performer line-up showcasing the diversity, skill and multiculturalism of modern day Australia.

True to form, the acts span a dizzying range of jazz, West African griot culture, songcraft, drumming, electronica and dance. Check out Mohmed “Hands of Fire” Bangoura, one of the best drummers in the world, or get lost with the “freaky” audio-visual performance of Alon Ilsa, the only AirSticks player in the world.

The performances will complement the festival’s equally impressive roster of speakers announced recently, (including the great, great grandson of Charles Darwin) as well as its film and food programs.

Check out who’s on the bill!


Over a career spanning almost two decades with highlights including Dead Can Dance, award-winning movie soundtracks and a series of acclaimed solo and collaborative albums, Lisa Gerrard has established herself as one of Australia's most groundbreaking and indemand artists. She has collaborated with leading world artists as diverse as Hans Zimmer, Daniel Johns, Ennio Morricone and Russel Crowe.


Mohmed Bangoura was born into a Griot family in Guinea, West Africa. Griots are the traditional oral historians of Africa. It is their hereditary responsibility to tell and re-tell the stories of their ancestors through music, song and dance. Mohmed is described in Guinea as the man with “Hands of Fire”, “the Lion of Matam”, already regarded by many critics as one of the best amongst the Master Drummers of this world. He has dedicated his life entirely to his music and traditions, mesmerizing audiences with his out of this world skills, talent, power and virtuosity.


Jack Ladder (real name Tim Rogers) is a singer, songwriter and composer based in The Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. Since 2005 he has released four albums: Not Worth Waiting For, Love is Gone, HURTSVILLE (the last two shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize) and Playmates. Ladder’s distinct baritone voice, well-honed songwriting craft and ability to draw the listener into his narratives, holds audiences to the end. He’ll be backed again by his band The Dreamlanders.

ALON ILSAR featuring Airsticks

Percussionist Alon IIsar creates visually compelling and futuristic music by grabbing, altering and morphing between sounds on his new 3D timbral Theremin, the AirSticks. This gestural electronic drumkit designed by llsar and computer programmer Mark Havryliv also allows the live sampling and manipulation of other live instruments, completely blurring the line between drumming, sound design and dancing. As an improvising drummer llsar “brilliantly comments and reflects on the action”, but as the world’s only AirSticks player he creates “freaky-future sound”.


In 2014 Australia’s premiere taiko ensemble Taikoz and South Indian Classical dance company Lingalayam presented an 80-minute dance theatre work called Chi Udaka at the Sydney Festival. Their performance at TEDxSydney is a snapshot of that work. Entitled ‘Of The Fields’, the scene is set on the afternoon of a hot summer day. The music and choreography partners (and sometimes pits!) dancer against drummer in a display of furiously fleet, fancy foot and stick work. At times delicate and dramatic, ‘Of The Fields’ connects the dynamism of Taikoz’ taiko with Lingalayam’s blend of Bharatha Natyam and Kuchipudi dance forms.


Frank Yamma is a well-known Australian musician, instrument maker, composer, musical director and community music facilitator. A traditional Pitjantjatjara man from Australia's central desert, he speaks five languages. An extraordinary songwriter and an exceptional guitarist Frank has been on the stage since he was nine years old. Frank also has an incredible voice, rich, deep and resonant. Regarded by many as one of Australia’s most important Indigenous songwriters, Yamma’s brutally honest tales of alcohol abuse, cultural degradation, respect for the old law and the importance of country are spine tingling.


Sandy Evans OAM is an internationally renowned ARIA award winning saxophonist, composer and music researcher with a passion for improvisation and new music. She has played with and written for some of the most important groups in Australian jazz since the early 1980s and has toured extensively in Australia, Europe, Canada and Asia. In 2014 Sandy received her PhD from Macquarie University for research in Carnatic jazz intercultural music, and a Churchill Fellowship to continue her research in India. Her latest CD, ‘Kapture’, a fusion of jazz and Indian music, is a tribute to South African freedom fighter Ahmed Kathrada. In ‘Transcendent Arc’ she is joined by two of Australia’s leading wind players – James Greening, pocket trumpet and trombone, and Boyd, contrabass clarinet – to explore and celebrate the beauty of breath and melody.

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TEDxSydney will take place on Thursday 21 May at the Sydney Opera House.