Hobart farewells the avant-garde

IHOS artistic director Constantine Koukias has announced he will be moving from Hobart to Amsterdam.
Hobart farewells the avant-garde

IHOS artistic director Constantine Koukias has announced he will be moving from Hobart to Amsterdam.

As funding disappears for the IHOS Music Theatre and Opera company, so too will co-founder and artistic director Constantine Koukias. The contemporary composer has announced he will be moving from Hobart to Amsterdam to set up a new performing arts company. However, Koukias stresses this is not the end for IHOS.

‘We’ll be continuing to operate so there will be tours and small works that will still happen while I’m away and other production people will actually tour them. It hasn’t folded, it’s just scaled back until it can be activated again,’ Koukias said.

The decision to downsize IHOS productions was made for them when funding from the Australia Council and Arts Tasmania was not renewed. It was this lack of financial support that also prompted Koukias’s international move.

Koukias and Werner Ihlenfeld established IHOS in 1990. The company has staged more than 40 productions in Australia over the past 22 years including the recent Echo Part 1, a surreal exploration of neuro-diversity with an audience limit of 24 all wearing headphones. The company has also mounted large scale operas and contributed to Hobart arts events such as MONA FOMA.

IHOS has been a popular source of the avant-garde in Hobart, with its multilingual and multicultural productions incorporating digital technology and installation art. This contemporary approach has led to the creation of highly original works of voice, dance and sound such as Days and Nights with Christ, To Traverse Water and The Barbarians.

Koukias is interested in non-traditional creative exploration as a way of making opera accessible. ‘I’ve always had a very strong visual arts background in my work and I love collaborating with the diverse aspects of the different genres. That’s what opera is for me and it’s opera for today,’ he said.

A move to the Netherlands will provide a centrally located venue-heavy base for Koukias’s new company. As the Netherlands has also experienced federal budget cuts in the arts sector Koukias is not necessarily limiting himself to his current non-for-profit company structure. ‘It’ll be a new company format – I’m still exploring what sort of structure that will have.’

Upcoming productions are still being considered, but there could also be a re-emergence of previous works. ‘My large scale opera The Barbarians, which was commissioned for MONA FOMA two January's ago, will probably be touring. I’m negotiating for it to be touring in Europe and then also we’ll probably be remounting some older works, some of the older larger scale works.’

European collaborations and opportunities will continue to evolve as the new company takes form.


Melanie Sano

Monday 22 April, 2013

About the author

Melanie Sano is an ArtsHub writer.