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9 September 2010

ASQ National Composers' Forum: composer blog - Melody Eötvös, part 2

Melody Eötvös Image: Melody Eötvös  

Stepping off the flight on Friday morning and into an unfamiliar airport was the beginning of my National Composers' Forum experience. Being flown half-way around the country to attend the first rehearsal, workshop, and performance of a work is always an exhilarating event for me.

After meeting up with fellow composers Tom and Adam at the baggage carousel, we made our way to the hotel, sought out the closest café, then headed to the 2pm rehearsal at the Elder Conservatorium of Music. The second half of this session was dedicated to the initial hearing and discussion of my quartet, Olber's Dance in the Dark.

The Australian String Quartet's devotion to this forum was apparent from the first moment - although my work clearly posed a challenge, it had been prepared to a professional standard prior to the weekend's events, allowing the sessions to focus on the finer details and practicalities of our individual compositions and techniques. Sophie, Anne, Sally and Rachel all provided insightful reflections, and because of their proficiency and intuition as an experienced quartet (thinking as one instrument instead of four), I was able to understand my own writing better through their reaction and interpretation of my music.

asq forum group photoHaving Carl Vine present added yet another dimension to the rehearsals - and, in fact, all the way through to the post-concert wind-down. He gave his suggestions and shared his observations with us freely, and I truly valued his insight on balancing issues and managing the structure and form of a composition. It was also wonderful getting to know Carl, through the presentation of his work with Musica Viva and while out on lunch/aperitif sojourns after the rehearsals and concert, which to us emerging composers opened a window on a realistic figure of a creator within the Australian music world.

As well as the National Composers Forum, during the evenings the Soundstream New Music Festival was presenting a series of concerts in the ABC studios which - in combination with a brilliant lighting design, hugely contrasting programs, and great hosting - were the perfect end to each day.

Out of the intense succession of events, I guess the most important thing I took away from the weekend was a better sense of what it meant to write a good, programmable, and playable composition for string quartet. I left Adelaide determined to continue working on Olber's Dance and to take my experience there and put it into practice. I'm not just thinking harder and more strategically about string quartet writing, but also about when I should be truly satisfied that the music I have written has really been thought through properly - every aspect, from motives, to remembering that a unison tutti isn't a bad thing to use every now and then.

Image: Forum participants (from left): Julian Day, Melody Eötvös, Alison Beare (ASQ GM), Rachel Johnston (cello), Mark Holdsworth, Anne Horton (violin II), Ross Carey (NZ),Adam Starr, Sophie Rowell (violin I), Carl Vine, Thomas Green, Sally Boud (viola)

Further links

Melody Eötvös - website
Melody Eötvös - ASQ National Composers' Forum, composer blog, part 1
Adam Starr - ASQ National Composers' Forum, composer blog part 2
Adam Starr - ASQ National Composers' Forum, composer blog, part 1
Thomas Green - ASQ National Composers' Forum, composer blog, part 1
Mark Holdsworth - ASQ National Composers' Forum, composer blog, part 1
Ross Carey - ASQ National Composers' Forum, composer blog

Subjects discussed by this article:

Melody Eötvös is currently studying in the PhD Composition program at Indiana University.


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