Songs for crossing the seas

A farewell fundraiser

Hi, I'm Josh ūüĎčūüŹľ

I am a composer, musical theatre writer, and a cabaret artist. Neurodiverse, non-binary, and altogether non-conforming, I am drawn to all things CAMP.

During the Australian Equal Marriage Vote, I gained a reputation as a rainbow-flag-parading polemicist for my fantasy tirade to the Prime Minister. Dear Malcolm Turnbull went viral, accruing a quarter of a million views overnight, and becoming an anthem for the queer community.

Since then, I created and performed four solo cabaret shows, won the Adelaide Theatre Guide Best Cabaret Award (2019), and four Adelaide Fringe Awards.

The reason all my pictures have me holding origami is because my last concert had an origami theme.

I hold a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre (Writing) from the Victorian College of the Arts, (University of Melbourne), which I attained on the lands of the Wurundjeri & Bunurong people of the Kulin nations. I also hold a Bachelor of Music (Composition) degree from the Elder Conservatorium of Music, (University of Adelaide), which I undertook on Kaurna Yerta (Country of the Kaurna People).

I have synaesthesia. This means that every time I write a word or play a note on the piano, I see an associated color in my mind. 

So, I designed my website around this phenomenon, as it expresses itself through the unique neural pathways in my brain. As no two synaesthetes' brains will pair the same colours with the same notes, what you are about to see is a selection of my work, presented with just-about-exactly the unique colour palette that my mind's eye produces whenever I hear the work's musical score.

[Work in Progress]

Mozart's Sister

This project began as my graduate show for my Master of Theatre (Writing) degree at the VCA. It's a Broadway-sized musical. I suspect I will be working on it for the next decade. Here's the blurb:

What if I told you Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had a sister?

In real history, Maria Anna Mozart was the toast of Europe, lauded by Kings and Queens and even a young Marie-Antoinette, who gifted Maria her embroidered cast-off dress.

But then, Maria turned a marriageable age, and her musical career was over.

Maria retreated from the limelight, settling down in the sleepy lakeside town of St Gligen, Austria, where she married and raised children. She also composed, very well according to her brother, but none of her original compositions survive.  

In my musical, Maria is rescued by a drag queen, who takes her to the centre of the Universe: Vienna. There, she becomes famous in an underground gay bar, inventing pop music in the 18th Century, and developing her superhero-drag-persona: Lady Caca. Think a Rococo Lady Gaga.

I'll let you hear a little bit of one of my demo songs ‚ÄėWhere There is Silence‚Äô ‚Ästthis is what Maria plays to a salon audience at the age of 16 after learning about her future and starting to develop contemporary feminist leanings.

In Time

This was my big pandemic project. I gathered 23 artists from 8 cities across 4 different countries to sing an anthem for hope for a post-pandemic future. My naive optimism doesn't quite hit all the right notes for me anymore, but I remember that at the time I wasn't trying to paint a realistic depiction of the future; more an unattainable paradise, like ‚ÄėSomewhere‚Äô from West Side Story. It was a future I needed to believe in at the time, even if it never came to pass.

This was created for submission to the Helpmann Academy Stay at Home Short Film Competition. It won the people's choice award ($3,000).

You can buy an mp3 download of this song here. All proceeds from sales of this song have gone to and will go to the Dhadjowa Foundation, which supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families whose loved ones have died in custody.

In Time

Josh Belperio

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In Time

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Download here to support me buy coffee and more femme clothes.

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The singers, organised according to their location, are:

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
New York City: 
Jade Delos Santos, Benny James, Vaibhavi Mohan
Chicago: Carrie Caffrey
Cincinatti: Matthew Nassida
Philadelphia: Tim Waurick

THE UNITED KINGDOM
London: 
Emily McGlynn

IRELAND
Dublin: Michaela Murphy

AUSTRALIA 
Birrarunga / Naarm / Melbourne (land of the Kulin Nations): 
Mama Alto, Mitchell Smith
Tandanya / Adelaide (Kaurna Yerta): Raymund MontePio de la Cruz, Jemma Allen, Lindsay Prodea, Bianca Levai, Jamie Burgess, Oliver John, Lena Eversheim, Blake Ascione, Ben Gillard, Amy Hein, Charmaine Jones, Kelsey McCormack, Josh Boyce

30,000 Notes [2019]

Poster

Here's the poster. It has me very looking very masc and calls me a 'man'. Lol.

A little about the show . . .

30,000 Notes was a cross-artform theatrical experiment with surround-sound choir and string quartet, a bunch of monologues, and everything I’d ever written (and saved) across my entire life to that point (23 years), spread out on the walls of a little-known art gallery in the Tandanya/Adelaide CBD.

The show was about memory, how to capture the past, and an ode to my late Nonna. 

In original music and words, I tried to capture everything she meant to me. 

I came up embarrassingly short. But in collaboration with the brilliant designer Mark Oakley, we ended up making something along the way that I still think was a little bit pretty.

30,000 Notes premiered at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe. At the Adelaide Fringe Awards, it won the Adelaide Festival Centre InSpace Development Award, the Holden Street Theatres Award, and was nominated for the John Chataway Innovation Award.

It also won the Adelaide Theatre Guide Award for Best Cabaret in Adelaide, 2019 season. The show was nominated for the Adelaide Critics Circle Innovation Award.

The studio album

You can purchase 30,000 Notes as an online download or hardcopy CD (which I will mail to you), or both.

30,000 Notes

Cadence Chaos

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Buying this album will allow me to buy a meal or two as I write the next one. Or just rest. Resting is important too.

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Where Nonna and Nonno Are

To make this music video, which was the finale of the show, I did the following: 

- Composed & orchestrated it 
- Made the parts (with a lot of help from the fantastic Patrick Baker) 
- Conducted it (poorly ‚Äď but I had an excellent mentor, being Carl Crossin OAM)¬†
- It was recorded by the late, great Neville Clark of Disk-Edits. He did a brilliant surround-sound recording as we sung it in a circle in the middle of a church (thank you, Calvary, North Adelaide).
- I raided the family archives of home movies taken by my late Nonna, mostly in the 90s and early 2000s. 
- I then taught myself how to use Premiere Pro and edited the footage together and kept going for two weeks until I gave myself my first migraine. 
- Mark Oakley picked up the pieces, projecting it beautifully as he did, and adding a few brilliant finishing touches (he's a genius).

I then saw this thing only become successful thanks to the brilliant artists around me. So I vowed never to do so many different jobs on the same creative project again.

I struggle to keep that vow, but I am trying!

The Promotional Reel

The Gallery

The sheet music

This purchase is designed for choir conductors. The scores are available in multiple versions: for SATB choir, with or without string quartet or piano accompaniment.

If navigating all of this online is too confusing, just get in touch with me below and I'll sort you out with the right score.

Awkward Activists (2021)

Gallery

Poster

Here is me, looking more non-binary, but with my zombie name. I call old names that aren't my deadname 'zombie names'.

My Spiel

I collaborated with my feminist pal Millicent Sarre to make this two-person cabaret show.

It was a fun time with ukuleles and general awkward goobery.

The show, which was my last and possibly final Adelaide Fringe cabaret show, was a joyride through the intersectionality between queer rights and feminism. The word 'intersectionality' in that sentence just then might imply this show was dry, but it wasn't! I've long-admired Mim's ability to make feminism fun, with original songs about being mansplained, body shamed, and being told to be more 'polite' about your activism. So I asked if I could key into what she was doing, and this is what we made. 

Awkward Activists opened at the Ukiyo, Gluttony, on the 8th of March, 2021. As it was one of my first pandemic performances, It was pretty surreal to have a live audience in front of me again (albeit with quite-well-enforced checkerboard seating).

A song from the show

Unfortunately, hardly any of the original season of Awkward Activists was filmed/recorded. But I did perform half of one of the songs from the show at a Sunday Sessions at Midsumma Festival in Naarm / Melbourne in 2021, and my boyfriend-at-the-time managed to get it on camera. So here you go! Apologies for the quality of the recording.

Scarred For Life (2017)

My Spiel

Scarred for Life was my debut cabaret show. 

I filled it with original songs about the time I fell off my bicycle, ruptured my spleen,
 and almost bled to death. A classic musical comedy. 

It premiered at the 2017 Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival,¬†and it caused something unexpected:¬†a tide of people were compelled to share with me their own stories of becoming ill. ‚Ä®Many showed me their scar(s). We shared a connection that was quite special, as we reflected on our fragility and mortality ‚Äď topics that we seem to be facing communally in the 2020s.

I performed the show around a bit, and it won a few awards. I then recorded an album, with all the patter that you need to be able to follow along with the story, even if you haven't seen the show.

Studio Album

Scarred For Life

Cadence Chaos

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Buying this album would help me buy a few sexy new masks and matching hair ties, because you always want to have matching masks and hair ties.

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Gallery

Promotional reel

~ A note before we continue ~

I have had, as Andy Warhol would have put it, my 15 minutes of fame:

A few years ago, I made headlines lampooning a now-former Prime Minister or two. I'm still proud of these videos, even though they were highly topical, and accordingly, now highly irrelevant.

Having said that, the issues that I was criticising haven't really gone away, even though the government has shifted the occasional carbon-neutral goalpost or amended the odd Marriage Law. So even though my anger may read as now embarrassingly misplaced by the forces of time, I think that nonetheless, there is value in reflecting on how angry I was back then.

Also, I spent, like, two weeks learning how to use what felt like half of the Adobe suite to teach myself the very basics of collage-style animation so I could make that funky little music video to Scomo, and that was such a huge and maybe not very prudent investment of time and energy, so I’ve decided it must continue to be out there in the world now.

Homo Vs Scomo

The (very silly) Music Video

Dear Malcolm Turnbull

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