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11 August 2012

Composer & performer news August 2012

Singers from the Vienna Boys Choir during a workshop with Elena Kats-Chernin in Vienna in March 2012 Image: Singers from the Vienna Boys Choir during a workshop with Elena Kats-Chernin in Vienna in March 2012  

Our bulletin from the composing/performing world: performance news, new releases, awards. Featuring Matthew Shlomowitz, Anne Boyd, Australian Art Orchestra, Kristian Ireland, Andrián Pertout, Peter Knight, Matthew Hindson, Richard Charlton, Elena Kats-Chernin, Halcyon, Elliott Gyger, Andrew Ford, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, David Chisholm, Daniel Blinkhorn and George Dreyfus, among others.

As a recent experiment in the domain of social media, we have started to compile a Scoop page of reviews of Australian music events. So far the list consists of a fairly modest selection of illustrated links - you can help to make it better by sending us suggestions of things to include . You don't have to log in or create an account to see the page and follow the links.


Matthew Shlomowitz's music featured strongly at this year's prestigious Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music. Works included his Avant-Muzak as well as his Letter Pieces nos 4 and 5, performed by the Belgian Ensemble bESIdES, and Instrumental Music for eight voices, performed by the vocal ensemble Exaudi (UK). Shlomowitz also gave a talk on the topic of 'music without borders' as part of the festival program (for details, see the festival brochure). A work by Alex Pozniak, a participant in this year's summer course, was included in the reading session of bESIdES on 17 July.

Anne Boyd and Bob Reece's new opera Daisy Bates at Ooldea will be premiered on 19-20 October at the Sydney Conservatorium's Music Workshop. Boyd and Reece will talk about the opera on 21 September as part of the Con's Alfred Hook lecture series. Daisy Bates (1859-1951) was an Irish welfare worker and anthropologist (and also the topic of Margaret Sutherland's chamber opera Young Kabbarli) who spent long periods living in isolated camps, observing the life of the Aborigines. The title role will be sung by mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley, the recent winner of Opera Foundation Australia's 2012 Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship.

Crossing Roper Bar, a collaboration of the Australian Art Orchestra and the Young Wägilak Group, has been invited to perform at the prestigious London Jazz festival and at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris in November. Crossing Roper Bar explores the musical traditions and manikay (song cycles) of the Wägilak speaking Yolngu people, who belong to the oldest continuously practised culture on Earth. The collaboration has toured remote, regional and metropolitan Australia, won awards and released a CD - this tour will be its first international showcase.

The Vienna Boys' Choir will be touring Australia in September, with Elena Kats-Chernin's new setting of Dorothea Mackellar's iconic poem My Country as part of the tour's program. Read an interview with the composer in the Sydney Morning Herald (10 August 2012).

Andrián Pertout will travel to Israel this October for a performance of Bénédiction d'un conquérant by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Frédéric Chaslin as part of the 30th Asian Composers League (ACL) festival and conference. After this, he will travel to Valdivia, Chile, for multiple performances by the Orquesta de Cámara de Valdivia of a new work Die Kunst der Zahlen (The Art of Numbers), étude for chamber orchestra, and to attend the first performance, in Concepción, of Ñamkonün (En la profundidad de las aguas) for symphony orchestra by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Concepción, conducted by Benjamin Shwartz. Other recent commissions include Luz meridional, twenty-four etudes for pianoforte, commissioned by Julian Burnside AO QC for performance by Michael Kieran Harvey, and a song cycle to accompany the play Hypatia's Circle (based on Hypatia of Alexandria ca 370 - 415) by Tom Petsinis.

Kristian Ireland recently featured both as a composer and performer in the Wiepersdorf Summer Festival, at which his work limit of correction was performed by cellist Séverine Ballon. Through July, Ireland was a guest of the Goethe-Institut in Berlin. Currently he is a Fellow of Künstlerhaus Schloss Wiepersdorf (Wiepersdorf Castle) in Brandenburg, Germany, with an award from the Brandenburg Ministry of Science, Research, and Culture. Ireland is the first Australian composer in residence at Wiepersdorf Castle, where he will spend four months working on compositional projects and collaborating with leading contemporary music interpreters.

Hybrid theatre work Pin Drop by Tamara Saulwick and Peter Knight (score), first performed two years ago, has been touring to Cairns, Sydney and Hobart in July and August. 'An immersive audio-sensory work' and 'part documentary, part urban thriller', Pin Drop was the 2010 Green Room Award winner for outstanding production, and nominated for best composition and sound design.

Matthew Hindson's flute concerto House Music is being performed this weekend at the gala concert of the 40th Annual National Flute Association Convention in Las Vegas (US), conducted by Ransom Wilson and with Alexa Still as soloist. Hindson's new ballet score Faster, inspired by the Olympic motto 'faster, higher, stronger' and written for the Birmingham Royal Ballet (UK), was premiered in June, choreographed by David Bintley, as part of the ballet's 'Summer celebration' triple bill. Some of the enthusiastic reviews are available on the publisher Faber's website.

New releases

Music by Richard Charlton and Elena Kats-Chernin is included on the new CD Songs of the Southern Skies by singer Katie Noonan and guitarist Karin Schaupp. Kats-Chernin's work was written especially with Noonan's versatile voice and Schaupp's guitar in mind. 'We have spent most of our professional lives in very different musical worlds, but we also share a lot of common ground - an unspoken intuitive understanding of the substance of the music, regardless of its style. This collaboration allows us both to expand our musical worlds', says Schaupp of her collaboration with Noonan. The duo are touring nationally in August-October. More information about the CD is available on Noonan's website.

Halcyon has announced the first of a series of digital recordings. Waves 1 features two substantial works - Elliott Gyger's Petit Testament for soprano, mezzo and piano and Andrew Ford's Willow Songs for soprano, mezzo, flutes, clarinets, piano and percussion. Musicians include conductor Mark Shiell, flautist Sally Walker, clarinettist Jason Noble, percussionist John Douglas and pianist Sally Whitwell, as well as Halcyon's driving forces, soprano Alison Morgan and mezzo-soprano Jenny Duck-Chong. Waves 1 is only available for digital release (for details, see: cdbaby website).

Andrew Ford's new collection of writings about music was published on 1st August by Black Inc. Try Whistling This includes essays based on Ford's radio series Music and Fashion, as well as illuminating examinations of music-makers, among others David Lumsdaine, Richard Meale, Mary Finsterer, Brett Dean and Malcolm Williamson. See: Black Inc. website.

Works by Ross Edwards, Paul Stanhope, Matthew Hindson and Nicholas Buc are included on a new release by the Benaud Trio on Melba Records. The trio rose to national prominence after winning the Piano Trio prize at the 2005 Australian Chamber Music Competition. For details, see: Melba website.

A new 4-CD set titled Australian Ballet: Music Of The Dance (ABC Classics) includes music by Gerard Brophy, Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Mills, Ross Edwards, Graeme Koehne, Carl Vine and Peter Schulthorpe. For a full track list and other details, see the ABC Classics website.

Australian-born conductor Jennifer Condon's project to record and stage Peggy Glanville-Hicks's opera Sappho is well underway - the recording was completed recently in Lisbon, Portugal, and funds are being raised for a stage premiere of the work. Commissioned by the San Francisco Opera in 1963, Sappho's premiere was meant to feature Maria Callas, who was expected to make her comeback as a mezzo-soprano. Sappho was rejected by the opera house, however, and has not yet been performed in public in its entirety. See: 'Forgotten opera raises from ruins', in the Sydney Morning Herald (1 August 2012), and an earlier news article on Resonate.

Awards & appointments

David Chisholm's work KURSK: An Oratorio Requiem has scored two Helpmann Award nominations, in the categories of 'best chamber and instrumental ensemble concert' (as presented by Melbourne Festival and the Melbourne Recital Centre) and 'best new Australian work'. The 12th Annual Helpmann Awards ceremony will be held at the Sydney Opera House on Monday 24 September. Helpmann Awards recognise distinguished artistic achievement and excellence in the many disciplines of Australia's vibrant live performance sectors, including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, theatre, dance and physical theatre.

Daniel Blinkhorn's work frostbYte cHatTer has won the first prize in the electroacoustic music section of the International Composition Competition Città di Udine. The prize consists of E1000 monetary prize, a public performance and a recording of the concert. Approximately 400 scores from 49 countries competed for the prizes in two sections (electroacoustic music and chamber music).

Pianist and composer Paul Grabowsky has been appointed to the position of Executive Director, Performing Arts, Academy of Performing Arts at Monash University. See: Monash website.

On TV/on the radio

The national German radio channel Deutschland-Radio Kultur has broadcast a four-part radio program Begegnugnen mit George Dreyfus, in which the Australian composer talks about his life, including his early years in Germany and arriving in Australia with his brother in 1939. The music played in the four programs included many works by Dreyfus himself, as well as music by Felix Werder and Peter Sculthorpe.

A new documentary on Elena-Kats Chernin premiered on 9 August on Foxtel's arts and entertainment channel Studio. The documentary forms part of the Creative Minds series, featuring Australian artistic icons including Geoffrey Rush, Bill Henson, Stephen Page, Kate Grenville and Robyn Archer.

The Australian Music Centre connects people around the world to Australian composers and sound artists. By facilitating the performance, awareness and appreciation of music by these creative artists, it aims to increase their profile and the sustainability of their art form. Established in 1974, the AMC is now the leading provider of information, resources, materials and products relating to Australian new music


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