Welcome to the Gene Tree Project blog, where you get to hear the questions, thoughts and conversations that have been inspiring us and contributing to our work. It is also where you’ll hear about our talking events and music performances.

We want you to join the conversation so come and see us, read our articles, ask us questions, and tell us what our work inspires in you.

The Gene Tree Project draws upon DNA modeling to explore climate and science through new music.

The project is a dynamic collaboration between composer and musician Elissa Goodrich, dramaturge Nadja Kostich and evolutionary biologist Dr Anna Syme.

Performance musicians include:
Elissa Goodrich – compositions / vibraphone
Gideon Brazil – saxophones / flute
Adam Simmons – saxophones / shakuhachi

The live ensemble explores contemporary classical, jazz and live improvisation, drawing upon aspects of evolutionary biology, graphic notation and traditional music scoring.

This collaboration came out of Elissa’s artistic residency with Nadja and Anna. It was co-presented with Creative Spaces Arts Residency Program, City of Melbourne, and Carlton Connect.

The first performance of their work was presented as part of Melbourne Music Week, 16th November 2016.

The 2016 Residency was Co-presented with Creative Spaces Arts Residency Program, City of Melbourne, Melbourne Music Week and Carlton Connect Initiative.


The 2016 Residency and Development is supported by City of Melbourne, Creative Victoria and Australia Council for the Arts.




Elissa Goodrich – is an Australian musician (percussionist), sound artist & composer with an abiding interest in contemporary music across idioms & collaborative arts-making. Elissa’s sound-art works have played internationally in festivals and cultural institutions in Spain, France, Italy, United Kingdom & New Zealand, as well as Australia; Her audio-visual collaborations including: with visual artist Gabby O’Connor at Museum of & with filmmaker Michael Carmody have also exhibited in Europe & Australasia.

Elissa records & performs in contemporary classical, jazz & pop groups & co-led world-jazz Shannon-Goodrich Ensemble with 2 nominations for 2009 Australian Jazz Work of the Year from their Worlds Within Worlds CD.  Elissa’s commissions include works for the Melbourne Museum, CCCB (Spain), The Avoca Project (Aus), Tempo Reale (Italy), Traverse Intenational (France), Double Dialogues (Wales, USA, Aus), Museum of Otago (NZ).

Elissa also works in independent theatre & dance, including long-term collaboration with director Bagryana Popov (1998–current). In 2013 Elissa released the critically acclaimed jazz debut for States of Play and solo marimba project Bach Conversations. Following on from her initial research as a State Library of Victoria creative fellow (2009/10), this year (2016) sees Elissa create and exhibit Between Footsteps ( www.betweenfootsteps.com ) – an outdoor soundwork for children at Heide Museum of Modern Art, with colleague writer / dramaturg Cressida Bradley. Elissa continues her development of The Gene Tree Project with support from City of Melbourne, Creative Victoria and Australia Council for the Arts – and extends her investigation of working at nexus between science and art, composing for New-Zealand based visual artist Gabby O’Connor (official artist for the NZ scientific team to Antarctica) project.  In 2017 Elissa will perform her Dusk to Dawn duo composition for Double Dialogues with cellist Caerwen Martin at the National Opera Center, New York.


Dr Anna Syme is a Melbourne-based evolutionary biologist who has worked at the Melbourne Museum, Royal Botanic Gardens, and overseas at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Anna’s research is focused on the evolutionary histories of particular animals and plants, and she uses genetic information – DNA – and physical characteristics to infer the historical relationships between species.

Anna uses modelling to examine rates of speciation and extinction across time, and also the evolution and development of complex features such as eyes. Modelling can also show whether the development of new species – or new features – is correlated with a change in environmental conditions such as rainfall or temperature.  Recently returning from maternity leave – Anna is currently working at the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative and studying a Masters of Bioinformatics at University of Melbourne to broaden her skills in computational genomics.


Nadja Kostich is an interdisciplinary artist who conceives, directs and creatively produces both large-scale and intimate works. Her integration of physical theatre, text, film, dance, music, installation and digital components has created award-winning, powerful and moving experiences for audiences in theatres (MTC, Fortyfive downstairs), public spaces (Fed Square) and festivals (Melbourne Festival, Melbourne Fringe, Light in Winter, Moomba, Stringybark, Tropfest – winner of 2 craft awards).

A VCA graduate, she received a Green Room Award nomination for Outstanding Direction for her debut production, InsideOut, as Artistic Director of the Brunswick Women’s Theatre, followed up by a Green Room Award for Outstanding Production for The Grand Feeling as Co- Artistic Director of paradigm productions.  For Platform Theatre Nadja directed Test Pattern, by Angus Cerini, (two Green Room Awards) and Tenderness: Ugly and Slut, by Christos Tsiolkas and Patricia Cornelius (two Awgie Awards). She directed Mari Lourey’s Bare Witness in a Fortyfivedownstairs season in 2010 and a national tour in 2012. Nadja was creative producer for the Light in Winter at Fed Square for three years. Her recent work includes mixed media performance installations, such as Spinning Yarns and The Locker Room for the City of Knox.

Nadja has recently been appointed ambassador to the Melbourne Theatre Company Connect program. She is an alumnus of MTC Women Directors program, 2014 and directed I Call My Brothers by Jonas Hassen Khemiri for MTC Education in 2015. Nadja is the new Artistic Director of St Martin’s Theatre –appointed in October 2016.