An initiative of the Music Board of the Australia Council, the Composers_Connecting_Community project saw several music organisations host a composer residency or commission new works for youth and community-based organisations throughout 2006 and 2007.
The three organisations involved were the Dandenong
Ranges Music Council, Orchestras Australia and
Youth Orchestras Australia. The project gave opportunities
youth and community-based musicians to work alongside Australian composers and each culminated in the performance of new works.
Dandenong Ranges Music Council's project
The C_C_C project was intended to give students and community members the opportunity to work with a contemporary Australian composer, as well as providing an insight into the compositional process. During the project, Calvin Bowman wrote an work entitled Suite, consisting of seven songs based on text from C.J. Dennis's A Book for Kids. The brief for the work was that it should be 'engaging and simple enough for a massed choir to sing'. C.J. Dennis was an Australian poet who lived in the Dandenong Ranges and is best known for The Songs of the Sentimental Bloke. Suite was premiered on 24 July 2006 by choir of over 400 school children, as part of the 9th Hillsongs Festival.
About Orchestras Australia’s project
Orchestras Australia commissioned composers Katy Abbott and Matthew Hindson to write two orchestral works (symphony and string orchestra) each. The two works produced by Abbott were Fast Ride in a Suave Machine, and Mirage. Those written by Hindson for the project were An Infernal Machine and Song and Dance.
During the project, participating orchestras in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland had the opportunity to work with Abbott as she composed the new works. For many of the players and conductors this was the first time they had met and worked with a living composer. The title of Abbott’s work Fast Ride in a Suave Machine alludes to the John Adam’s work Short Ride in a Fast Machine, although the two works are not really related. A three-note descending pattern in the piece was somewhat reminiscent to Abbott, albeit unintentionally, of the nursery rhyme 'Three Blind Mice'. When considering the often violent and depressing subtexts to nursery rhymes, Abbott began to see a connection between the three-note pattern and the 'dark' colour of the harmonies, producing an atmosphere that is almost satirical and not unlike Roald Dahl’s 'Revolting Rhymes'. The inspiration for Mirage came form hearing an orchestra in rehearsal play a unison D, moving from pianissimo to fortissimo and back again. Abbott decided to expand on this idea by moving from the unison note into chord clusters. The journey from unison to the chord clusters is seen by Abbott as traveling towards a mirage – the 'beautiful illusion of something we want'. The harmonies gradually become more complex, suggesting the 'quickening excitement that gives the traveller hope to continue forward'.
An Infernal Machine, by Matthew Hindson, 'takes as its starting a hellish vision of the future where machines and artificial life forms have overtaken their human creators - rather as in the Terminator series of films'.
Hindson’s second piece for the C_C_C project, Song and Dance. The two movements explore the contrast in life experiences between young adults of the early twentieth century around the time of WW1, and today.
About Youth Orchestras Australia’s Project
Iain Grandage’s residency had him traveling to youth orchestras around Australia, developing and rehearsing works in collaboration with the principals in the ensembles. The four works together comprise a larger work, Quadrants, with each composition relating to a point on a compass. The first work completed was Magnetic, for symphonic wind band. The other three works, completed throughout 2007, are Exotic for junior string orchestra, Wild for intermediate orchestra, and Deep for senior orchestra.
Katy Abbott - AMC profile
Matthew Hindson - AMC profile
Iain Grandage - AMC profile
Katy Abbott's blog article about the project on Resonate
Dandenong Ranges Music Council (www.drmc.org.au/)
Orchestras Australia (www.toan.com.au/)