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13 October 2010

Composer blog TSO Composers' School 2010 - Nicole Murphy

Nicole Murphy Image: Nicole Murphy  

In early September I left warm, sunny Brisbane to brave the cold Hobart weather as a participant in the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's 2010 Composers' School. The school was an invaluable opportunity to spend a week working with the dedicated and generous musicians of the TSO, conductor Kenneth Young and mentors Andrew Ford, James Ledger and Richard Mills.

Upon receiving the schedule for the week I realised how unique this program is for young composers. Having participated in several other orchestral training programs in the past, I was surprised to see how much time was scheduled with the orchestra throughout the week. We had the luxury of having four orchestral calls, and the time to make unlimited revisions to the works prior to the next rehearsal.

I was fortunate enough to be experiencing the second performance of my piece Border. The piece was commissioned for the MSO Cybec Series in 2008, and TSO were performing a revised section of the work. Despite the revisions I had made prior to arriving in Tasmania, there were still inherent problems with balance that needed to be addressed. The mentors were very helpful in suggesting alternate voicings that allowed the solo lines to be heard over the background textures, without altering the intent of the piece.

For the first time this year the program was divided into two streams: works for orchestra and works for voice and orchestra. Although my piece was part of the orchestral stream, I gained a vast amount of knowledge of the technique of writing for voice and orchestra, much of which can also be transferred to writing for voice with chamber ensembles. The orchestration sessions run by Richard Mills were immensely helpful in highlighting practical examples of the craft.

One of the aspects that I most look forward to when participating in a program such as this is the opportunity to spend time getting to know the other participants and their music. Spending time with fellow composers Anne Cawrse, Lorenzo Alvaro and Daniel Masmanian was an absolute delight and I am eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to hear new works by these composers.

Further links

Composer blog by Anne Cawrse, Symphony Australia TSO Composers' School 2010
Composer blog by Lorenzo Alvaro, TSO Composers' School 2010
Nicole Murphy - homepage
Symphony Australia TSO Composers' School information and guidelines for 2010
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (http://www.tso.com.au)

Nicole Murphy is a Brisbane-based composer who is currently completing her Master's at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music under Dr Gerardo Dirié. She is currently working on new works for Chronology Arts (Sydney) and the Definiens Project (Los Angeles).


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