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19 December 2011

Composer & performer news December 2011

Jonathan Little Image: Jonathan Little  
© David Galloway

Our bulletin from the composing/performing world - news, new releases, links to reviews, opinion pieces and other articles. Featuring Christine McCombe, Ruth Lee Martin, Jonathan Little, Peter Knight, Mark Pollard, Kristian Ireland, Robin Fox, Paul Stanhope, and many others.

New releases

The latest release by composer/trumpeter Peter Knight, Fish Boast of Fishing, captures a new project inspired by e e cummings. In addition to Knight (on trumpet and laptop electronics), the recording features Adam Simmons (contrabass clarinet), Erik Griswold (prepared piano), Vanessa Tomlinson (percussion), Frank Di Sario (double bass) and Joe Talia (drum kit/electronics). Fish Boast of Fishing is available on CD and as download through the Listen/Hear Collective.

Jonathan Little's new album Polyhymnia will be released in February 2012 by Navona Records. Polyhymnia - the Muse of Sacred Poetry is a many-layered, 21-minute lamentation for string orchestra and the second work to be completed in Little's series of musical portraits of the nine muses of the ancient mythology. The first work in the series - Terpsichore for large orchestra - is also included on the CD.

A vision of wildflowers is a new CD release of music by Ruth Lee Martin. Seven choral and vocal works on the CD - all recent works that were composed during Martin's ArtsACT Creative Arts Fellowship - are performed by the Trinity College Choir and Halcyon. All CD details are available on the AMC website, and the CD can be ordered through the composer's homepage.

Ars Nova Copenhagen has released a CD of choral works from the Pacific Rim, including Anne Boyd's As I crossed a bridge of dreams (1975) and Ross Edwards's Sacred kingfisher psalms (2009). The Observer's reviewer Stephen Pritchard had this to say: '...it is Anne Boyd's As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams that really grabs the attention. Based on the whole-tone scale, the music moves very slowly in deliciously textured, monumental chords that show this world-class choir at its best.'(Read the whole review.)

Christine McCombe's new work Epic, commissioned by the Australian Chamber Choir, will be included on the choir's forthcoming CD, due for release next April. The work will also form part of the program for the choir's next European tour. McCombe talks about the background for this new work in an interview in The Age (11 November 2011), describing the work as 'both a love song and a lament'. Epic is based on McCombe's own experiences of becoming a mother (see also McCombe's earlier article on the topic of composing and motherhood on Resonate blog).

The NZ clarinettist Andrew Uren has released a CD of works for bass clarinet, including Gerard Brophy's 1995 work Glove. For CD details, see the AMC online catalogue and the Atoll website.

Residencies & awards

Mark Pollard and a group of seven final-year student composers from the University of Melbourne's Victorian College of the Arts have spent some time in Vancouver, Canada, creating sound for seven exhibition spaces in collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver. Pollard has also been composer in residence at University of British Columbia's Green College in 2011. For more information about the MOA's Resonating Spaces project, see this new article on the VCA website and the MOA blog.

Kristian Ireland has just returned from France where he spent several weeks as an artist in residence at La Napoule Art Foundation, based at the Chateau de la Napoule, Côte d'Azur. He is also the recipient of a 2012 artist scholarship from the Goethe-Institut, Germany.

Joseph Twist's Lamentation of Jeremiah has won the first prize in the composition competition for XV International Choral Festival 'Days of Spiritual Music Cro Patria'. The festival takes place in the Croatian city of Split.

Nigel Westlake's Missa solis - Requiem for Eli has been awarded a Limelight Award as the best new composition in 2011. Among the 12 award-winners were also conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy (music personality of the year), Synergy Percussion (best chamber performance) and Musica Viva Festival 2011 (best event). For a full list of winners, see the Limelight magazine website.

Performances and events

Robin Fox's giant theremin has now been erected next to Flinders Street Station in Melbourne and will remain there until the end of February. If you can't make the trip, this Youtube video of an interview between Fox and Maureen Cooney on ABC Radio National's The Music Show will give you a general idea of this 'super-sized musical instrument standing more than seven metres tall, controlled by movement rather than touch'. The interview, originally broadcast on 10 December, is also available as a podcast.

The end of 2011 has been particularly busy for the now UK-based ELISION ensemble. Shortly after performances in Berlin, the Belgian TRANSIT festival and London's Kings Place concert centre, the ensemble went on to premiere the UK composer Richard Barrett's 2-hour work Construction at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival on 19 November in a concert broadcast live on the BBC Radio 3.

Paul Stanhope's new work for ACO2, Qinoth, was premiered at the end of November in Sydney. The commission was an unusual one: 22 individual members of the Creative Music Fund pooled their resources for the purpose. Read the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald (29 November).

The Australian Voices are currently on an extensive European Tour, including concerts on 13 European cities in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. More information is available on the choir's website.

Reviews & reading

Realtime magazine's latest edition includes Chris Reid's profile of Gabriella Smart, covering the pianist's many roles, from a musician dedicated to her instrument to festival director, concert organiser and a champion of new music. It's also worth browsing the magazine's online archives for the coverage of this year's Totally New Huge New Music Festival. Gail Priest was joined by local writers Sam Gillies and Henry Andersen to produce daily reviews of concerts, installations and events across the 10-day festival. Also on Realtime, Matthew Lorenzon's review of Fresh Meat, an interesting project a few months back involving new works by 12 young Australian composers. (Read also: 'Fresh Meat - between the emerging and the established', on the AMC's Resonate magazine.)

Andrew Ford's article 'The art of relevance' (Inside Story 8 November 2011) looks at points raised in Lyndon Terracini's Peggy Glanville-Hicks address (available on the Opera Australia website) and the federal government's cultural policy discussion paper: 'Two of the sticks we use to beat each other at times like these are "Australianness" and "relevance." Simon Crean's discussion paper refers to the government's desire to "strengthen the role the arts and creativity play in telling Australian stories." In his recent Peggy Glanville-Hicks address, Lyndon Terracini... spoke of his belief that the company should "create new work which ideally should tell our stories within the context of the operatic form" (my stress), and he used the word "relevant" in a number of contexts. That we should tell our own stories is both a good idea and an obvious one, and it is very hard to argue against relevance when the alternative is irrelevance, but we do need to be careful with both these concepts", Ford writes.

David Chisholm's major new work for Melbourne Festival, KURSK - an oratorio requiem, was well received by the audience and the critics alike - for reviews, see for instance The Age, The Australian (requires subscription), The Herald Sun or Arts Hub.

And if you missed Lloyd Bradford Syke's considered review of Richard Mills's opera The Love of the Nightingale on Crikey's Curtain Call blog, this article continues to be available online.

Other news

Bermagui's Four Winds festival has succeeded in securing a major grant ($1.67m) from the Regional Development Australia Fund and can go ahead with improvements of its festival site, including improved infrastructure, a new space for meetings and small performances and, most importantly, a new permanent main outdoor performance venue 'Sound Shell'. For more information, see the festival website - see also: all grant recipients.

The players and management of Orchestra Victoria have resolved their industrial dispute, as reported by The Australian (18 November 2011).

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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