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29 October 2008

A Year of Chronology Arts

31 premieres in 12 months

Alex Pozniak and Andrew Batt-Rawden Image: Alex Pozniak and Andrew Batt-Rawden  

chronology arts is a project based in Sydney, aimed to promote the music of young and emerging composers. In September 2007, Andrew Batt-Rawden and I were among the composers involved in The Song Company's and the Australian Music Centre's MODART07 composition workshop. While, on one hand, we were excited by the stimulating structure and atmosphere of Roland Peelman's program, on the other hand our conversations turned to the current situation for aspiring composers. Faced with a scarcity of such professional development programs and a lack of an active platform in the community for composers to present new works and ideas, it is little wonder that it is so rare to hear music of young composers. Yet exposing this music should be a fundamental concern if as music lovers we want to encourage a future for contemporary classical music in Australia.

In my own experience, and pursuing and participating in workshops such as the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's Australian Composers' School and the Australian Youth Orchestra's National Music Camps, it is always a privilege to connect with composers from across the country and to hear evidence of new classical music continuing to flourish in our own backyard. Following such workshops, one can't help wonder when the next opportunity to hear more music from these composers will occur.

At MODART07, Andrew and I concluded that there are simply not enough opportunities to inspire young composers to be active. Our conversations led to the co-founding of chronology arts, the name of which was arrived at in the wee hours, after extended brain storming at an all-night café. The name was intended to be open in nature, rather than solely signifying 'music', so to incorporate a broader domain of artistic practice and the possibilities for cross-artform collaboration in our future events.

Speedy plans were made during October 2007 to produce our inaugural concert, Chronology, which took place on 13 December at the Sydney Conservatorium's Music Workshop. We decided that the goal for our programs would be to feature works written specifically for each concert, or else works written within two years prior to it, to set a benchmark for premiering brand new music to as large an extent as possible. Of the ten pieces in that concert, nine were heard that night for the first time (the odd one out written and premiered only a few months earlier), performed by an assortment of twenty performers to a packed audience. The immense support and encouragement we received from Chronology indicated that there were more than just a handful of curious listeners.

Our five-concert program in 2008 has included Intimate Lines in May, at the University of Sydney's Old Darlington School, Counterparts in June, at the Australian Hall in Sydney, Sounds of the Sea in July, at St. Michael's Cathedral Wollongong, and Quintessential in September at the Eugene Goossens Hall, ABC Ultimo Centre. Our final concert for the year, Emerging Century, features new works for a rock band ensemble and takes place on 12 and 13 November at the Seymour Centre's Sound Lounge.

In our first twelve months of activity, we are proud to have programmed 37 works of Australian music, of which 31 have been premieres. We've had the fortune of working with some 50 young performers and look forward to the continued dialogue between composers and performers who have an interest in or passion for new music. Keep an eye out on our website in the coming months as we consolidate an exciting program for 2009.

We encourage composers, both locally and from abroad, to contact us so that we can keep in touch about future opportunities and we welcome any suggestions for events and collaborations.

A very special thank you to all composers, performers, the Australia Council for the Arts, patrons and audience members who have supported our project in its first year. Your continued work, help and support ensures our continued success.

Performance details

Further links

Alex Pozniak is a freelance composer who has just completed a Masters degree in composition through the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, supervised by Matthew Hindson. His newest work Natural Birth will be premiered, along with fourteen other new vocal works, at All Heaven Shouted for Joy: Stations of Creation 2008, on 28 & 29 November at St Ives Uniting Church, Sydney.


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