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Peggy Glanville-Hicks Commissions

2020 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Commissions

In May and June 2020, in response to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMC commissioned thirteen artists and artistic teams to create new works and online presentations under the banner of the prestigious Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address. Three projects were added to the initial ten, thanks to a generous donation for this particular purpose (see announcement).

'We are extremely proud to be involved in presenting these projects - and it's also important to note that every single one of them has a new, original Australian work at its core. We are also proud of the quality of the creative projects proposed for our modest scheme by 108 Australian artists and presenters. Had we had 40 bursaries to give, we would have ended up with 40 original and worthy projects instead of ten', said the AMC's CEO John Davis in May at the time of announcing the first ten successful applicants.

The projects will all be launched on this page as well as via AMC's other channels, over the second half of 2020. See further down for a full list of projects with descriptions.

2020 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Commissions - launched projects

music example from Music Play'st, first page
Music Play'st, first page - larger view.
Benjamin Thorn: choral works Morning Birds and Music Play'st for SATB choir with solo voices

Benjamin Thorn's commission includes two choral works performable live over internet using video conferencing or similar technologies circumventing the issue of latency - the works do not require precise co-ordination. Both works can also be performed live in concert.

In Morning Birds, choral parts consist of repeated fragments of birdsong that create a sound cloud with a hint of a harmonic progression. Above this the soloists sing eight haiku about birds. In Music Play'st, the choral parts consist of free rhythms that create a harmonic cloud that hints at a variation of the La Folia ground bass. Above this, solo voices sing words from two of Shakespeare's Sonnets (128 and 8).

> Morning Birds and Music Play'st by Benjamin Thorn (sheet music and further information in the AMC Library)

Flinders Quartet and Deborah Cheetham's Bungaree

This video project by the Flinders Quartet, launched on 30 October 2020, is one of three Commissions funded through a private donation by Charles Davidson. 

The Flinders Quartet developed and recorded the first movement of Deborah Cheetam's new work Bungaree as part of their commission. The video with the recording and an interview between cellist Zoe Knightley and the composer are now available for viewing on Vimeo.

Flinders Quartet and Deborah Cheetham's Bungaree
- interview & recording of 1st movement (Vimeo).

> A streamed premiere of Bungaree will take place in Melbourne on 25 November - a work by Ella Macens will also have its first performance in the same concert.

> Read Zoe Knighton's blog article about this project.

Wringing out an old cloth by Erik Griswold

Erik Griswold's Peggy Glanville-Hicks Commission premiered on 19 October and is inspired by a quote by Peggy Glanville-Hicks herself, and the domesticity of an artist's existence under the pandemic. Erik writes about this work:

'In an Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview from 1986 - 'Home Truths' - Peggy Glanville-Hicks said: Anyway, I think that most of that 19th century (like Beethoven's 9th) is just like a piece of cloth - you've wrung out the last drip and can throw it away - let's get going on. I've long been struck by this disarming interview, and this metaphor resonated strongly for me.

Erik Griswold: Wringing out an old cloth (Youtube)

'In 2020, the COVID-19 situation brought all things domestic into extreme focus. In various stages of lockdown, we found ourselves tracing and retracing patterns as we navigated through our homes. The notions of "home truth" and the piece of cloth intersected with my daily routines of cleaning and trying to find meaning in a radically transformed environment.

'I started by enacting Glanville-Hicks's suggestion literally, wringing an old cloth into my kitchen sink. I created a miniature installation of metal and plastic cups of varying sizes, each with subtly different pitches and tones. When slowed down, the dribs and drabs produced a stochastic melody. Listening to this quasi-random melody, I prepared my antique piano, "tuning it up" to match the sounds of the water drips.'

> Read more about Erik Griswold's recent works on Resonate blog.

SIMA: The River Flows, the River Sings - a new work by Mike Nock

The premiere performance of Mike Nock's commission The River Flows, the River Sings, was streamed live from a special event at the Australian Institute of Music (AIM) in Sydney on 15 October, to celebrate Nock's 80th birthday last month. The composer-pianist says about the work,

'The River Flows, the River Sings is a celebration of the life of Peter Curran, a huge supporter of SIMA and Australian jazz. I hope the piece will remind listeners of the vitally important role Australian creative music can play in helping us overcome darkness.'

The new work is available for viewing via AIM's YouTube Channel.

SIMA presents: Mike Nock's 80th at AIM - Youtube

One idea over and over - a digital Echo education resource by Leah Blankendaal

Leah Blankendaal's Peggy Glanville-Hicks Commission One idea over and over is an education resource about composing for solo instrument and loops. This resource is available on the Australian Music Centre's Echo online learning platform.

The new resources discusses Leah's own music as well as the work Adam Page and Xani Kolac.

Leah Blankendaal discusses her work in a video that forms part of the new Echo resource.

'Without the impact of COVID-19, I had planned to keep touring, creating, and performing this suite of works until I had developed a full repertoire of site-specific pieces that responded to interesting spaces and places across the country. It was a wonderfully liberating experience to create works by myself, with nothing but my flute and a very simple piece of technology. It felt validating, as if I'd found a piece of my compositional voice that I'd been seeking for years', writes Leah Blankendaal.

> The free One idea over and over resource on the AMC's Echo online learning portal
> Read also Leah's blog article about the resource

Make Wind - Arcadia Winds and Lachlan Skipworth

'Make Wind' is a project that brings the joy of playing wind instruments to homes around Australia and the world. For the first phase of this project, Arcadia Winds produced four instructional videos that taught viewers how to make and play homemade wind instruments - from bottle flutes, to straw oboes, to hosepipe horns, to paddle pop stick 'clarimonicas'. The final 'product' in this project, released on 16 September 2020, is a video of Lachlan Skipworth's score as realised in performance by 'Make Wind' contributors all over Australia.

'One of the many wonderful things about live music is the visceral, personal connection between performers and audiences. Being in the same space, breathing together, hearing and feeling the sounds and sensations of the room and of that particular performance, combine to create this unique experience. It's something we have lost during lockdown, and it's precisely what we wanted to recapture through our project, "Make Wind".

'In order to connect audiences around Australia with the physical and creative sensations of music-making, we wanted to invite them into every step in the process...'Members of Arcadia Winds recorded demonstration videos of how to make and play home-made instruments, and created play-along tracks to Skipworth's score. Lachlan wrote and recorded brilliant instructions of how to take part in his piece, as well as a guided click track that participants could use to lead them through the score. We then sent these videos out into the world, hopeful that people would be excited to 'Make Wind' at home. We got a brilliant response from all around the country', writes flutist Kiran Phatak.

> Read more about 'Make Wind' in Kiran Phatak's blog article on Resonate. For more information about 'Make Wind', including instructional videos, please visit www.arcadiawinds.com/makewind.

Audible Lockdown - Ania Reynolds & Carl Polke

Ania Reynolds and Carl Polke's Peggy Glanville-Hicks Commission Audible Lockdown was born out of the first COVID lockdown period in Melbourne, and the changes in the sonic environment of the city. Audible Lockdown premiered on Youtube at 7pm AEST on Friday 4 September.

Ania Reynolds & Carl Polke: Audible Lockdown - Youtube

'One of the most striking features of the first Victorian COVID-19 lockdown was the dramatic change in the soundscape of the city and suburbs. The constant underlying rumble of traffic, machinery and motion disappeared, replaced by a stillness from which birdsong began to emerge; the earth finally had a chance to breathe. Exploring the sonic make-up and identity of place forms the basis of our ongoing This City This Sound series; we quickly seized this unexpected opportunity to explore the Melbourne CBD.

'Listening through a microphone with headphones allows you to become acutely aware of every incidental sound, and the general noisiness of places. Interestingly the relentless rumble of traffic and industry (you could call it 'sonic sludge', common to cities the world over) was still present in the CBD, with construction sites on almost every corner. The noticeable absence, however, was the sound of human movement and interaction, the sounds of voices, the sounds of conversations.'

'As composers born and bred in Melbourne, before COVID we actively sought to travel to different cities around the world, to explore their soundscapes from the perspective of outsiders. We weren't sure how the project would work in our home city that was so familiar that we wouldn't be able to listen with the unbiased ears of an outsider. But Melbourne under lockdown was a totally different city, and exploring it enabled us to tune in to sonic elements that probably would have otherwise gone unnoticed', Ania Reynolds and Carl Polke write about their project.

> Read more about the making of Audible Lockdown on Resonate blog.

Home From Afar - Belle Chen

For her Peggy Glanville-Hicks commission, UK-based Australian pianist and composer Belle Chen drew inspiration from her extensive memory bank of life back in Australia, as well as a collection of field recordings from over the years. The work is a hybrid of performance, composition, and improvisation, also including some music by Peter Sculthorpe. She describes her work: 'The journey traverses through multiple sound worlds and instruments: from sound art, electronics, classical piano, experimental extended techniques.. with hints of neo-classical and jazz-influenced language.'

Belle Chen: Home From Afar on Youtube

‘So far, my work as an artist has primarily been driven by a vision to evoke and share life experiences, locations, and moments with my audience. Before COVID-19, I sought inspiration from travel and exploring other cultures. From evoking feelings of alleyways of Barcelona to tropical jungle in Indonesia, I am passionate about igniting an audience’s imagination through the integration of classical music language with location-specific soundscapes, electronics, prepared piano, original composition and improvisation.

‘And now, using the same techniques and methodologies I’ve learnt through my past work, I just wish to return home. I wish to recreate feelings and atmospheres from my memories, as well as the sense of warmth and security from “home”.

> Read more about the making of Home From Afar in Belle Chen's blog article on Resonate.

Three Mouths by Ben Quilty - Jane Sheldon

Three Mouths by Ben Quilty, launched on 13 August 2020, reflects the situation composer and vocal performer Jane Sheldon found herself in during 2020 - she had decided to carve out some time from her performing schedule for composing work, and to make the most of this time during the pandemic, she ended up composing primarily with electronics, utilising as her main material recordings of sounds from her own voice and breath.

Three Mouths by Ben Quilty from Jane Sheldon on Vimeo.
Headphones strongly recommended.

'I used the project to reflect on the work of Ben Quilty, whose gorgeous and grotesque rendering of mouths I adore. They seemed like fertile ground given that my own sonic palette would be heavily influenced by what sounds I could make with my own mouth.

'It also seemed like a good time to made a work so deeply of the body, given how obsessive we were all becoming about bodies, mouths especially, as objects of fear.'

> Jane Sheldon recorded her material at home in a makeshift wardrobe studio - you can read more about this on her blog article on Resonate.

Until We Gather Again - Alice Chance

The first Peggy Glanville-Hicks project, launched on 28 July 2020, was Until We Gather Again by Alice Chance, an aleatoric, audiovisual new work, created in collaboration with the Leichhardt Espresso Chorus under the direction of Michelle Leonard OAM. Alice Chance writes about her project,

'In this work, I wanted to paint an honest portrait of a scattered choir who can no longer meet. I wanted to unearth their stories, their experiences, their hopes for themselves and each other. I've aimed to shine light on the bonds that are still holding them together. And by extension, illuminate that which continues to hold us all together.

Alice Chance: Until We Gather Again (view on Youtube)

'I asked participants from the choir to do a whole range of things. I asked them to document their challenges, what they loved about their homes or environments, what they could hear or no longer hear in their neighbourhood. I asked them to record their voices both speaking and singing, and asked them to film things which inspired them or related to their reflections on isolation. Anything they found beautiful and meaningful while isolating at home. I also asked members of the choir to wish things for each other.'

>  Read a longer article by Alice about the birth of this new work.

> View the work on Youtube

2020 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Commissions - funded projects

Jane Sheldon: Three Mouths by Ben Quilty, for electronics and mouth. A triptych of short, pre-recorded musical works for viewing on vimeo. The new compositions for electronics and mouth will be created in response to a mouth painted by Australian artist Ben Quilty in his works Self-portrait (big mouth) (2013); Self-portrait at 43 (2016); Straight white male, self-portrait (tongue) (2014). 'I love the grotesque treatment Quilty gives to mouths, including to his own mouth in his self-portraiture. It seems a good time to create a study of grotesquely-rendered mouths, given the way that COVID-19 has amplified (from certain perspectives perhaps necessitated?) tendencies to find elements of the body disgusting or threatening.' (Jane Sheldon)

Amy Curl/SIMA: new works by Judy Bailey and Mike Nock for streaming performance. Commissioning two composers to write a work during the COVID-19 period. Sydney Improvised Music Association will ensure the live premiere of the work once the restrictions have been lifted. 'Both of these musicians have contributed an immense body of work to the Australian repetoire... Their critically acclaimed and celebrated work has matured over a lifetime, and we believe it is important to document their voice at this time. The premiere performances will take place as part of SIMA's online concert series streamed via Facebook Live and made available after the event on YouTube.' (Amy Curl)

Arcadia Winds: Make Wind (Arcadia Winds & Lachlan Skipworth). Make Wind aims to educate and inspire Australians to make wind music in their own homes, then bring diverse communities together online to participate in and celebrate Australian music.
A short series of educational videos will teach viewers how to make basic, affordable wind instruments from household materials and how to apply the simple but powerful principles of wind playing to make music on them. The second stage of the project involves calling on viewers to record video of themselves playing their home-made instruments. Once these recordings are collected, Arcadia Winds will work with composer Lachlan Skipworth to digitally combine, layer and manipulate these recordings, in combination with music recorded by Arcadia Winds, into a new piece of audiovisual art.

Eric William Avery: String Song/Malwa Yuthi. Eric Avery will work with Jess Wright (violinist, Alice Springs Symphony) to give an insight into compositional process combining Aboriginal language and song with the violin. A series of exercises will look at syllables of particular words, then translate this into music to be played on the violin through various compositional means. The resulting piece for two violins and voices will be recorded and uploaded on YouTube.

Erik Griswold: Home Truths. In an ABC interview from 1986, 'Home Truths', Peggy Glanville-Hicks said: 'Anyway, I think that most of that 19th century (like Beethoven's 9th) is just like a piece of cloth - you've wrung out the last drip and can throw it away - let's get going on.' A new work, with a working title Home Truths, to be presented as video, will respond to this evocative quotation. 'I intend to explore several possible realisations, including: a) setting the text to music, b) creating a soundtrack for the existing video, c) creating a kinetic sound work which involves wringing a cloth above resonant objects' (Erik Griswold)

Alice Chance: Until We Gather Again - a virtual choir like no other. 'This project is born from a guiding philosophy of my practice: contemporary music belongs to everyone and everyone should feel safe and welcome to experience it and participate in its creation. Until We Gather Again is a ten-minute, aleatoric, audio-visual work designed to be uploaded to YouTube. The work manifests as a bespoke portrait of whichever choir is creating it together, from the safety of their individual homes. Its first iteration is in conjunction with Sydney's Leichhardt Espresso Chorus. The concept of a virtual choir comes about in a drastically different way to the tiled synchronicity that the name has come to represent: instead of lining each participant up to the same click track, this work embraces the out-of-sync interactions which have become our new normal, and reveals a beauty in the acceptance of this.' (Alice Chance)

Julian Day: Rose's Last Testimony: a video essay on Jon Rose. 'I will create an elliptical video biopic about Rose, blending my own spoken text with musical extracts and archival footage. I will base it on a recent video essay I made that elides Leonard Cohen with my late musician father. I will also reference Rose's radio portrait Paganini's Last Testimony and another oblique portrait, Hong-Kai Wang's Conceptual Biography of Chris Mann. Rose strikes me as Australia's most significant conceptual artist. For over thirty years he has built a wide-ranging yet consistent body of work. When Jennifer Walshe recently identified a "new" trend of conceptual music, I was outraged she didn't foreground our country's chief ambassador. My tribute is one small step in redressing this.' (Julian Day)

Belle Chen: Home From Afar - evoking Australian landscapes through video performance. For an Australian musician residing in London, the sense of isolation during social distancing is overwhelming, multiplied by news of travel restrictions and closing borders. 'Australia has never felt so far away. Now more than ever, I am missing home, family and friends, the expansive landscape, the sounds of birds and the ocean... I am proposing a performance in the form of pre-recorded video that travels through various scenes in Australia through integrating soundscapes I captured in Australia over the last few years, improvisation, electronics, and compositions by Peter Sculthorpe (Djilile, Night Pieces, Left Bank Waltz). The performance will be recorded with my home studio setup, and across multiple instruments (piano, prepared piano, synths).' (Belle Chen)

Ania Reynolds: Audible Lockdown. Audible Lockdown is a sonic depiction of Melbourne during the COVID-19 lockdown period, created with sounds recorded at various locations around the Melbourne CBD. The work draws its inspiration from the concept behind Reynolds's This City This Sound series: the investigation of the notion of sonic identity and how to convey and represent it. Reynolds and Carl Polke will take field recordings throughout the CBD of Melbourne and its surrounding areas, exploring and capturing these changed sonic environments and specific sonic elements found within them. The recordings will then be edited, morphed and manipulated to create a composition that is reflective of and inspired by the various locations throughout the city. The work will be presented on YouTube with accompanying imagery of Melbourne. This project transposes the original concept of This City This Sound to adapt to current COVID-19 restrictions - faced with the impossibility of international travel to explore new places, choosing instead to explore the familiar; create a new work based on the discoveries; and use an online presentation platform (YouTube) that will allow accessibility and exposure to audiences worldwide.

Jasmin Leung: Articulating the Hidden Sounds of My Bathroom. As we find ourselves indefinitely confined to our homes, there has been increasing awareness of the relationship between ourselves and the spaces we inhabit. Leung was, until recently, researching site-specific harmonic languages at Studio für Elektroakustische Musik, Weimar, before returning home due to COVID-19 - she will now use home isolation as a chance to create work that examines the sonic possibilities of the bathroom space by creating a work for a solo intoning instrument and electronics. The modular score and programming will be made publicly available, so that Australian improvisers can record their interpretation of the work, based off the sonic specificities of their own bathrooms. 'The point of departure for this work is the act of listening extending into a sonic response. The intrinsic resonances of a bathroom will be activated by the performer - frequencies unfolding slowly before enhanced electronically through psycho-acoustic phenomena (combination tones, interaction of the spectrum with pure oscillators etc.). This constellation of sound reveals the qualities of an intimate space, our relationship to our surroundings and possibilities of a radical perception.' (Jasmin Leung)

Leah Blankendaal: One idea many times - an introduction to composition with a loop pedal for acoustic instruments. A digital education kit for the Australian Music Centre's Echo online learning platform, featuring video, audio excerpts and aural and composition exercises.

Flinders Quartet: Bungaree - Moving Forward Together. The project includes presenting a filmed performance of the first movement of Deborah Cheetham's new work Bungaree, followed by talks with Zoe Knighton and Cheetham, exploring the genesis of the work, the creative process and navigating the development process while social distancing.

Benjamin Thorn: Creation of choral works for performance in a live on-line environment. The project proposes to create choral pieces that, through structural temporal aleatory, allow for live rehearsal and performance in an online environment, overcoming the challenges caused by the latency of internet connections.

2020 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Commissions - background

In April 2020, the Australian Music Centre commissioned 10 presentations under the banner of the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address.

We are committed to telling Australian stories to ensure that the diverse practices of Australian music are locally and globally visible and economically viable. The current precarious state of our community strengthens our determination to ensure that Australian music, and the diverse people and communities who create it, are valued and visible. We are focused on presenting the ever-evolving variety of Australian music to the world, and supporting a sustainable environment for our nation's musicians. (from project callout)

10 x $1000 bursaries were made available to the Australian music community to create online works that are realised in 2020. Distribution of the 10 works will be in partnership with the ABC and Monash University, in order for the new works to reach as broad an audience as possible, and further embed Australian music in teaching and learning.

The guidelines, as announced in April 2020, were as follows:

The content must be created from within a home or private studio, adhering to current social distancing measures, and be of a maximum 15 mins duration.

AMC embraces diverse music practices. We welcome submissions from First Nations practitioners, CALD practitioners, women, non-binary artists, musicians from diverse backgrounds, performers or composers from sound art, jazz, electronica, contemporary classical, improvisation, experimental music, everything in between, as well as producers, audio engineers, software programmers, writers and commentators.

Suggestions might include:

  • creative ways our community can engage with making or listening to Australian music at the moment
  • intimate, heartfelt stories on Australian music
  • new content for our ECHO online learning platform - e.g. a digital kit including a 2-page worksheet with teaching material including background information, a listening guide, up to four flexible and adabtable activities and links to relevant third-party media (Youtube, Soundcloud, articles and blog posts). Please see ECHO for examples of our existing resources.
  • a live-streaming performance of your own or other Australian music
  • a pre-recorded performance of Australian music (Youtube/Vimeo preferred)
  • articles, commentary, creative responses to the rich AMC collection
  • a series of videos on different aspects of your practice or area

The selection panel will be made-up of the AMC board members and staff, who cover a wide variety of expertise. The alignment of the material to the AMC’s vision will be key in our decision making. This includes our focus on opportunities for Indigenous artists, gender equity, innovation and collaboration. For an overview of our vision, mission and goals, see this one-page summary of the AMC's Strategic Plan for 2021-24. For further information, please check our website.

Unsalaried people affected by COVID-19 cancellations will be given priority.