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25 February 2015

Synergy Percussion's 40under40

Bree van Reyk - a Synergy percussionist and one of the 40 composers involved. Image: Bree van Reyk - a Synergy percussionist and one of the 40 composers involved.  

Bree van Reyk explains Synergy Percussion's 40th anniversary commissioning project: a new way of matching composers to commissioners that is proving a success. A dozen commissions out of 40, from both established and emerging composers, are still there for the taking.

40under40 is a commissioning project and a philanthropy initiative, launched last year as a celebration of Synergy's 40th Anniversary. The project is designed to be affordable for younger, artistically curious arts lovers, who are interested in commissioning a piece but either have not been able to afford it, or haven't known where to look.

We took on the somewhat enormous task of commissioning 40 new works, from 40 composers around the world, to each write a piece of duration 40 seconds. Each of the composer's commissions can be bought via the website, and we've had an extraordinary response to the project thus far.

Each of the new works will be workshopped with the composer, and filmed or performed live. Some of the works will form part of the Synergy performance repertoire, while some will exist as stand-alone video works. All works will be curated together in an online art exhibition at a later date.

To date, just over one dozen commissions remain to be purchased, and commissions have been steadily rolling in since November. One of our first commissions is from one of Australia's most distinguished composers - Larry Sitsky. Larry, who is Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University School of Music in Canberra, mailed us his score last week: 18 pages of handwritten manuscript, not bad for a 40-second piece!

Larry told us that, in composing The Wings of Mercury, he wanted to work with a 'bloody-minded idea'. With two xylophones going at it head-to-head with highly chromatic passages of semiquavers at something close to light speed, we think he has succeeded.

Although Larry has been an important fixture of the contemporary music scene in Australia for sixty years, The Wings of Mercury is his first commission with Synergy. Thanks to Tim Kregar for commissioning it!

Further links

Synergy Percussion: 40under40 project website (http://synergypercussion40under40.com/)

Subjects discussed by this article:

Percusionist and composer Bree van Reyk is Synergy's Associate Director.


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