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Stilt-walking and performing stunts while playing rock music on cello and violin could earn Queensland University of Technology (QUT) musicians a place in a nationally televised talent show's grand final.
DeepBlue, described as part band, part orchestra and part theatre, wowed nearly two million viewers on Channel 7's Australia's Got Talent on Tuesday with a high-energy performance that proved a "revamped orchestra" was as entertaining as any rock band.
Featuring 16 musicians playing instruments including violin, cello and keyboard, DeepBlue's semi-final performance combined 12 guitar riffs from famous pop and rock songs with stilt walking, dancing, stunts and special effects.
Keyboardist and visual production manager Alex Hodgins, 22, who studied music production at QUT, said voters would now decide which acts made the grand final.
"It's pretty exciting but I'm a bit nervous. It's daunting to know that it's up to Australians now," he said.
"We've got a lot of people who like us and as long as they vote I think we've got a pretty good chance."
About half of DeepBlue musicians are QUT alumni, including DJ and electronic musician Dane Alexander, drummer Hik Sugimoto, guitarist Phill Wilson, cellists Sophie Adamus and Emma Hales, violinist Naomi Otto and sound and lighting technician Jon Harrison.
DeepBlue receives support from a production team of six QUT staff, Creative Industries and business intern Lisa Jones and music professionals from QUT's Creative Industries faculty who help arrange and write the band's material.
Alex said DeepBlue's performances were polished, but added it took a lot of work to pull off a deceivingly effortless show.
"Although it's incredibly technical, we try to make our performances look easy and actually connect with the music and the audience. There's no reading of music," he said.
"Back in the day orchestras were popular music. They were cutting edge entertainment. We're trying to revamp the orchestra."
Professor Andy Arthurs, co-producer and creative director of DeepBlue, said the band started as an Australian Research Council-funded project four years ago between QUT's Creative Industries faculty and the School of Business.
"I have always loved the orchestra but it always bothered me that it had moved further away from mainstream audiences. We looked at how we could make orchestral music more accessible," Professor Arthurs said.
DeepBlue has since performed across Australia, including to 3000 children who participated in a series of special summer and winter workshops, which culminated in on-stage performances with the band. The next workshop is in June.
Professor Arthurs encouraged the public to vote for DeepBlue, as only two of the eight acts featured on Tuesday's show will progress to the grand finals.
He offered some additional incentive for the QUT community.
"If we get through, we would hold a free concert in gratitude to all QUT staff and students," Professor Arthurs said.
To vote for DeepBlue in Australia's Got Talent, call 1902 55 333 1 or SMS 'DEEPBLUE' to 199 777 72 by Friday, June 3 at noon.
Visit www.deepblueorchestra.com for more information about workshops.
Media contact: Stephanie Harrington, media officer, 3138 1150, firstname.lastname@example.org
Part band, part orchestra and part theatre, DeepBlue has amazed audiences with high-energy performances.