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20 September 2011

A debut in New York: Australian music ensemble ExhAust

A debut in New York: Australian music ensemble ExhAust

The new Australian music ensemble ExhAust will make their debut at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn on 18 October. Tim Hansen reports.

There seem to be a couple of unspoken universal 'truths' to being a composer that I've observed over my brief career. There's no such thing as being 'too clear' on a score. No matter how early you get the music to musicians, most of them will only look at it the day before first rehearsal. Your non-musical friends, as much as they love you, will react with raised eyebrows the first time something more adventurous than a minor seventh chord crops up in one of your pieces.

But one of the most common mantras I've heard from composers of all ages and from all parts of the world is that if you want to get your stuff played, you have to form your own ensemble. If you think about it, it makes sense - there are many more composers out there than there are gigs, and as nicely validating as it is to have an ensemble or performer approach you for a new commission, it's pretty much unavoidable that, when you're first starting out, at some stage you're going to have to put your money where your mouth is and produce your work yourself.

Anyway, about this time last year I moved to New York City. It was a new beginning, and I was bright-eyed and optimistic (and, in case you're worried about the past tense there, I am still both of those things, plus I now know how the subway works). Anything seemed possible, and I felt this was the perfect time to form an ensemble. And with nostalgic thoughts of my beloved homeland still fresh in my mind, it was obvious what ensemble it would be - an ensemble of Australian musicians who would play the works of Australian composers in New York City.

Now, if this blog entry was not a blog entry and was instead, say, an '80s movie, this would be the perfect opportunity to have a montage of the past twelve months. Accompanied by something like Eye of the Tiger, this montage would summarise the surprisingly emotional process of me, and my co-producer Lisa Moore, approaching musicians, composers, venues, rehearsal spaces, funding bodies, the Australian Consulate, mentors, teachers, and even complete strangers on the street who appear to be philanthropically-inclined to pull everything together to this point, the point at which I can say we have an ensemble, repertoire and a venue for our debut concert.

But this isn't an '80s movie, and so, for the sake of brevity, I will instead say this: our new Australian music ensemble ExhAust will debut at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn on October 18 2011.

Featuring the performative talents of Eileen Mack (clarinet), Nadje Noordhuis (trumpet), Peter Wise (percussion), Lisa Moore (piano/keyboard), Nicole Brady (piano/keyboard), Ezra Seltzer (cello) and Lisa Dowling (double bass), the group will debut works by Michael Sollis, Fiona Fraser and Nadje Noordhuis, and will feature new arrangements of works by Julian Day, Kate Moore, William Gardiner and myself.

The funny thing is that, although so much energy has gone into reaching the point of having our first concert, this is just the beginning. Starting out with what was essentially the self-aggrandising idea of having an ensemble on hand to play my stuff, the ExhAust ensemble has quickly become much more than that - it presents a rare opportunity for Australian composers, be they unknown, emerging, or established, to have their stuff played overseas. So while this might have started out as 'my own ensemble', my focus has now shifted to how to make this group an ongoing vehicle for the promotion of Australian music in New York.

Stay tuned…

Event details

Galapagos Art Space, Main Street, Brooklyn NY, USA
8pm (doors open 7pm), 18 October 2011
Music by Sollis, Fraser, Noordhuis, Day, Moore, Gardiner, Hansen
Full event details: AMC Calendar

Further links

The ExhAust website (http://exhaustmusic.wordpress.com)
Galapagos Art Space (http://galapagosartspace.com/event/exhaust)
ExhAust fundraising campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/exhAust)

Timothy Hansen is a composer, music director, and youth-arts tutor who has been engaged by a diverse range of companies and individuals to create new works for theatre and music. In September 2011, he commenced his residency at the Park Avenue Armory in New York with new music ensemble Le Train Bleu.


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