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27 January 2016

Radio programs to help with HSC repertoire search

Jason Noble Image: Jason Noble  

As a performer specialising in new music and an educator, I feel I have a relatively good grasp of what is out there in terms of new Australian clarinet music. Yet when a Year 11 student inevitably turns up with the comment: 'My classroom teacher told me to choose an Australian piece for the core HSC topic', I still find the amount of time deliberating over what repertoire to choose time-consuming. Was there anything out there to make this process easier?

I tend to direct students to the Australian Music Centre to look for material (see: the AMC's HSC repertoire page for students taking the NSW Higher School Certificate in 2016), but there is a lot to sift through, a difficult task for a student. Otherwise, one tends to have a couple of good tried and tested pieces that have been successful in the past. Yet each student has a different skill set, or sometimes has strong opinions of what they do or don't like. Given the Music 2 topic is 'Music of the last 25 years : Australian focus', a lot of the staple repertoire has also fallen outside this period. Music 1 candidates can also choose Australian music, yet I wonder how many do?

Some time ago, a good friend and colleague, the general manager of Fine Music 102.5, David Sidebottom, asked me and some of my colleagues whether we were interested in creating new programs on Fine Music. (Incidentally, New Music Network president, Jim Nightingale also took the challenge - check out his weekly Sunday evening 8:30pm slot.) This was just after the axing of New Music Up Late on ABC Classic FM. I was interested, but what to do a program on? I put two and two together, combining my performing and teaching skills, and came up with 'New Australian music for the HSC'. I was also keen to do a program that could be accessed by anyone across the state, as sometimes those in the country get the short straw when it comes to accessing these types of opportunities.

The initial series has now been recorded and will be broadcast starting 2pm on 17 February on Fine Music digital channel FINE MUS, and streamed live on www.finemusicfm.com to ensure access to those living outside Sydney. The programs will also be available for replay on radio-on-demand. I wanted to make a program for teachers, HSC students undertaking the Music 2 and also the Music 1 courses, and, at the same time, to have a dedicated program with exclusively Australian music for the general public. I wanted to capture the varied landscape that is Australian music, and add another platform for younger Australian composers to get their work heard.

For the initial series, in three parts, I have selected around ten to twelve pieces per program in the following areas: 1) wind and brass, 2) piano and percussion, 3) strings. Later in the year, the intention will be to offer half-hour and hour-long programs for each instrument, potentially giving students recordings of ten works of varying standards and styles. The programs later in 2016 could have discussions with experienced HSC teachers and even HSC markers on how to choose a good piece, and what the markers might be looking for. Programs focusing on Australian jazz music and discussing the composition component for the HSC are also on the radar.

What I really wanted to get away from was the repetition of the same pieces presented for the HSC. I wonder how many candidates perform Elena Kats -Chernin's Russian Rag or Ross Edwards's Ulpirra in any one year? Nothing wrong with these pieces of course, but I am sure at the very least the HSC markers would approve of some new repertoire to listen to.

Listen in on digital or online from 17 February for the three-part taster on Fine Music's digital channel FINE MUS. At the very least it gives an outlet to celebrate Australian music while hopefully reminding us all of the importance of nurturing our scene.

Further links

New Australian Music for HSC - program details and a list of Australian works featured in the programs (www.finemusicfm.com)
AMC: 2016 HSC repertoire lists

Fine Music FM homepage

Clarinettist Jason Noble is a core member of Ensemble Offspring and has premiered countless new Australian works. He has also taught music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Gondwana Voices, Moriah College, and in the public school system. His practice has also taken him to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he volunteered at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music.


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