Bringing classics to the club

26-year-old violist and DJ Kieran Welch is transitioning classical music lovers
from the concert hall to the dance floor with his Dots+Loops Concert Series.

Graduating from a Master of Philosophy in Music Performance from The University of Queensland last year, Kieran wanted to explore the space between a traditional classical concert and an underground club gig by taking adventurous and thought-provoking music of all kinds and presenting it in relaxed, accessible urban spaces.

Passionate about many different styles of music, Kieran said the concept for his first Dots+Loops concert in 2014 and the overall series stemmed from a much longer artistic journey. 

“Though a majority of my formal education has been in classical viola performance, I also started DJing in my early teens and quickly became interested in a broad range of electronic music,” he said.

“I spent years searching for a way to combine these two seemingly disparate worlds, and for me, this initial concert was the first successful culmination of this.

Kieran said many people of his generation (or even the generation or two above him) are much more familiar with experiencing music in a warehouse or a club than in a concert hall.

“In this sense, the only unconventional thing I’m doing is taking music for instruments and ensembles that have traditionally been more associated with classical music out of the concert hall and into these kinds of venues,” he said. 

“People go to a concert for many other reasons than just the music – to hang out with friends, to meet new people, and perhaps even to belong to a group or subculture.”

The Dots+Loops concerts use venues such as converted warehouse spaces to encourage the social aspect of shows in a number of ways.

They keep fixed seating to a minimum and space out set times to allow the audience ample time to socialise, grab a drink and discuss the music in between sets. 

"The performers and audience members are also encouraged to stay and mingle in the venue with a bar open long after the concert is finished."

Since its inception, the series has presented 12 critically acclaimed concert experiences; featuring Australian and world premieres of music by the likes of Nico Muhly, Caroline Shaw, Missy Mazzoli and Chris Perren, and collaborations with internationally recognised, award-winning artists such as David T Little, Brechtje and Ashley Bathgate.

When he began his Bachelor of Music, Kieran pictured his career being limited to performing classical viola, most likely in an orchestra or chamber ensemble.

“I remember thinking that I had to follow this particular established career path, and that diverting from this would be a ‘failure’ or less of a success,” he said.

“However, by combining the classical performance training I received in my studies with my own particular interests – searching for ways to merge different musical genres in an effective and exciting way – I’ve found a niche for myself and my career is much more varied and interesting.”

Along with Dots+Loops, Kieran is an award-winning DJ and regularly presents a unique blend of electronica, techno and house at festivals and clubs throughout Brisbane, operating under the moniker Airport.