"Guitars Sing in Cathedral "

OTAGO DAILY TIMES (Wed 5th Nov 2004)
by Marian Poole

Some 350 people responded to the warm-hearted Monday lunchtime performance of Santos Bonacci and his fellow guitarist Alejandro Florez with equally warm-hearted applause.

The first of the Otago Festival of the Arts ‘St Paul’s at One Forsyth Barr Lunchtime Series’, Bonacci presented a vibrant repertoire of traditional flamenco and Latin jazz with the rhythmical exuberance and sonorous Phrygian modality (known to European ears as F major scale without the B flat) which have become synonymous with Spanish gypsy music.

As Santos explained, he and Alejandro were but two of a tri based in Melbourne, and they were therefore concerned they were not delivering the depth of sound to which they were accustomed.

Although they might have felt a little daunted, they need not have worried. The brilliant sharpness of new, if temperamental, strings, their candid delivery of a selection of predominately well-known pieces and some of their own compositions, coupled with the offbeat and rumba rhythms, percussive slaps and cuts of nail against string and wood thawed the cathedrals chill.

Right from their opening number, Inspiration, followed by Allegro, Moorea, Mystery, Pharaon through to Moliendo Café, Santos and Alejandro made their guitars sing in a way that was not derivative or clichéd. Except for Walk With Me which, perhaps because it was in a European minor tonality, seemed out of their comfort zone and was as a result, dare I say, somewhat pedestrian, their commitment revealed their professionalism and joy in music-making.

Their performance was also aided by the innovation of close circuit television played on three screens down both sides and along the middle of the church. Although strictly speaking not designed as a performance venue, the cathedral’s wonderful acoustic chamber served the duo well.


"XP a Windows of opportunity"

THE AGE (Nathan Cochrane)

A pair of buskers performing at the MGM-Grand Hotel in Las Vegas this week following the vote of confidence their agent has shown in Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows XP.

Bourke St mall regulars Santos Bonacci and Darryl Wood were a warm-up act for Microsoft founder Bill Gates in his keynote speech at Comdex/Fall, Americas biggest IT trade show, which opened at the weekend. They are also p[laying in the trade show and have secured five gigs at the MGM-Grand Hotel.

Bonacci, 38 and Wood, 23, were invited personally by Gates, who is believed to have become a fan of the pair’s eclectic Latin music after their manager e-mailed Microsoft an excerpt from their CD, ‘New World’, in the MP3 compressed digital format.

Microsoft released Windows XP on October 25 and is set to unveil its new gaming platform, the Xbox at Comdex. The deal was brokered by the musicians’ agent, Opulent Multimedia, which will hawk its music software and DVD authoring services at the trade show.

Opulent owner Anthony Chidiac said Opulent had been invited to encode and burn a DVD in real time during Gates’ keynote address and the duo’s performance. He said Windows XP was more multimedia friendly than its predecessors. “Windows 2000 was a really bad operating system not revolving around multimedia. XP rivals what we traditionally use ant that’s Macs”.


"Mall buskers head for Bill Gates' Vegas gig"

THE AGE (Nathan Cochrane)

Two Bourke St buskers will be playing to a different crowd on Sunday - they will be the warm-up act for Microsoft mogul Bill gates in Las Vegas.

Santos Bonacci, 38 and Darryl Wood, 23, were invited personally by Gates, who is believed to have become a fan of the pair’s eclectic Latin music after their manager e-mailed Microsoft an excerpt from their CD, ‘New World’, in the MP3 compressed digital format.

Mr Gates will deliver his annual Comdex trade show speech to 17,000 people, outlining the company’s vision for the coming year.

Mr Bonacci said the pair’s music “is a fusion of flamenco, Latin and jazz, but it’s very eclectic music. There is definitely blues music there and rock, there’s gypsy music and we are also classical and baroque musicians.”

“I am very excited but then again it’s still only a gig. We’re keeping a level head about it. We play to 40,000 people a day in the Bourke St Mall anyway so it’s about the same numbers in one hit.”

The deal was brokered by the musicians’ agent, Opulent Multimedia. It will hawk its music software and DVD authoring services at the Comdex.

“These guys came to me two years ago and said, ‘We need an edge’, said Opulent owner Anthony Chidiac, who wrote his software for the antiquated MS-Dos computer software.”

“So we started to develop a DVD for them but failed because the technology wasn’t there to produce what we needed to produce to be ground-breaking.”

“I sent an email to Microsoft Australia, to the managing director, and I said, ‘Listen, I used your (operating system) and I was really impressed with it…’ I said we would be in Las Vegas and perhaps we could comment on it”.

“Well, comment we did, and I got this email from Bill Gates saying could we play at his keynote”.

The duo flew out yesterday under the State Government’s International Trade Fairs and Missions Program. They will perform a set comprising Santana and Gypsy Kings covers before Mr Gates walks on stage. They will then perform during the show and at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.


"Bold plan for ICT industry"

Connecting Victoria (The Multimedia Victoria Newsletter)
No.7/December 2001

The Victorian Government has launched an ambitious plan to make Victoria a global information and communications (ICT) hotspot by 2010.

The ICT Industry plan – ‘Growing Tomorrow’s Industries Today’ – aims to build on existing strengths and fast-track emerging industries such as the computer game industry.

“This is the most ambitious plan ever released by a Victorian Government,” the minister for State and Regional Development, John Brumby, said. “The ICT industry is currently experiencing a global downturn and looking for leadership direction. This plan gives the Victorian ICT Industry exactly that”.

The ‘Growing Tomorrow’s Industries Today’ plan outlines a number of targets for Victoria’s ICT industry that are both daring and achievable. It focuses on promoting clusters of firms within the industry that provide Victoria with Global strength and sustainable competitive advantage.

“From today, the ground rules change in Victoria – It is no longer viable for the ICT industry to try to be all things to all people”, Mr Brumby said. “From now on, the Victorian ICT industry will be known for its clusters of excellence in telecommunications, creative content development, specialist ICT manufacturing and interactive applications”.


"Opulent enough for Bill Gates"

Connecting Victoria (The Multimedia Victoria Newsletter)
No.7/December 2001

A Melbourne company shared centre stage with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates as part of a Victorian Government-sponsored trip to the Comdex Fall 2001 trade fair.

Opulent Multimedia was personally invited to attend Comdex Fall 2001 by Mr Gates, who was impressed by the company’s multimedia depiction of a Melbourne busking duo.

Opulent travelled to Comdex with funding support from the Victorian Government’s International Trade Fairs and Missions Program. It was one of several local companies to receive support from the Victorian Government to attend the trade far and showcase the State’s ICT industry to the world.

Opulent used Microsoft’s Windows XP technology to produce a DVD-A (for the American market) and CD featuring Melbourne busking duo Bonacci & Wood, who play regularly to crowds in the Bourke St Mall. Mr Gates was emailed an mp3 sampler from the Bonacci & Wood album ‘New World’, and was so impressed that he invited them to appear live on stage at Comdex Fall in front of 15,000 people at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas on 11 November.

Bonacci & Wood contributed to a unique keynote presentation by Mr Gates, described by Comdex organisers as “part multimedia extravaganza, part concert and part homespun humour”. The Microsoft chairman said the next ten years would be remembered as the “digital decade”, in which “computing technology will transform every part of our lives” – with among other things, a thirty-fold increase in e-commerce turnover.

The Victorian Government sees the International Trade Fairs and Missions Program as one of the best ways to make sure Victorian companies and citizens share in this revolution.

The program is part of the government’s ‘Connecting Victoria’ policy, which aims to deliver the benefits of technology to all Victorians.

Over the past two years, more than 150 Victorian companies in the ICT industry have shared up to $550,000 in funding from the program. This has resulted in projected two-year export earnings of over $500 million. More that $300,000 has been allocated to the 2001-02 program.