The old South Melbourne gasworks plant with its surrounding park was transformed in 1992 into a resonant performance space, whose flexible flat-floor expanse has allowed for many designs of Astra events involving choral performances with theatrical dimensions.

In this concert on 15th and 16th December 1995, timpani music by Elliott Carter and choral pieces from the age of Galileo introduced a large new cantata by Martin Friedel. The cantata The Third Planet for soloists, instruments and choir traced the history and science of flight from Icarus to the astronauts.

For 30 years, the concerts of Astra Chamber Music Society have ranged around Melbourne’s architectural environment. Each concert has had a site-specific design that takes advantage of the marvellous visual qualities, spatial possibilities, and acoustic personality of each building. The music, in turn, contributes a new quality to the perception of the buildings, now experienced by audiences as a sounding space - an area where cultural issues from music’s history are traversed, and new ideas in Australian composition are explored.