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25 June 2014

Composer & performer news, June 2014

Marais Project's Jenny Eriksson with composer Alice Chance Image: Marais Project's Jenny Eriksson with composer Alice Chance  
© Natasha Civijovski

Our bulletin from the composing/performing world, with premieres, commissions, performances, tours, new releases. Featuring: Kate Moore, Kevin March, Liza Lim, Brett Dean, Ross Edwards, Ros Bandt, Andrián Pertout, Gerard Brophy, David Harris, David Kotlowy, Elliott Gyger, Alice Chance, Kristian Ireland, Andrew Schultz, Chris Williams, Larry Sitsky, Andrea Keller, Alister Spence, and Cat Hope, among others. [Article updated 26-27 & 30 June 2014 - Ireland, Dean, Lim, Kats-Chernin.]

See also the news section of Resonate, and our Scoop page with more reviews of current concerts and CDs with Australian music - you can help to make this list more comprehensive by sending us review links by email .

Are you following the AMC on Facebook or Twitter? Our social media sites bring you news without delay: interesting articles, opportunities, event alerts, and more.

Premieres and commissions

Kate Moore's Cello Concerto will see the light of the day in September during the Gaudeamus Music Week in the Netherlands. The work is an adaptation, with an added cello solo, of an earlier piece Days and Nature, premiered in 2012 by Asko|Schönberg. The Dutch ensemble will also give the first performance of the new work on 10 September in Utrecht. The three-part work reflects on the relationship between chaos and order.

Kevin March has been commissioned by the Montréal Opera to write a full-length opera based on the play Les Feluettes by Canadian playwright Michel March Bouchard - also the librettist in the project. The opera will premiere in 2016. Two works by March, Catalogue des papillons for solo piano and the song cycle Mythweaver, were premiered in Melbourne during the Metropolis New Music Festival in April.

Elena Kats-Chernin's new opera George will be premiered in Hanover at the end of September as part of the 2014 Herrenhausen Kunsttage. The libretto, by filmmaker Axel Ranisch, is based on an episode in George Frideric Handel's life in 1719. The opera as well as other European commitments have kept Kats-Chernin away from Australia, but she will be coming back in August for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, where she will be composer-in-residence.

The Norwegian Cikada Ensemble is championing Liza Lim's music in 2014, with three concerts over the next couple of months in Krakow, Oslo (Ultima Festival - a premiere of a new work Winding Bodies for ensemble) and Schwaz, Austria - for more details, see Lim's website. One of Lim's latest commissions has taken the composer to uncharted waters: The Green Lion Eats the Sun is a work for double-bell euphonium and will be premiered by Melvyn Poore (MusikFabrik) in Poland as part of the Warsaw Autumn Festival on 21 September. A major part of the new work was written, of all places, at Boston Airport:

'I found it very difficult in the beginning to write for the double bell euphonium. How to activate this instrument, which doesn't have a huge repertoire? It is not a pre-trodden path in terms of solo repertoire or of any kind of established virtuosity. I really struggled. I was getting later and later, because I was finding it hard to work with the instrument... But for some reason I was just so focused, so ready to reach out and pick up this piece that I wrote half of this piece in Boston airport. Surrounded by this layer of noise and frustrated passengers, I just got into such a focused state of mind and being. Nothing could disturb me. Nothing could touch me. That is the ecstasy of making art', Lim wrote about the work process on her blog.

The program of the 12th World Harp Congress in Sydney on 20-26 July features a world premiere by Ross Edwards for the Seven Harp Ensemble and didjeridu virtuoso William Barton, a sound installation Windharps for Australian harpists and harps by Ros Bandt, and the Australian premiere of Lee Bracegirdle's harp concerto Legends of the Old Castle, performed by Sydney Symphony and Simone Young on 24 July, with Louise Johnson as soloist. A panel about Australian contemporary composition will be chaired by harpist Marshall McGuire on 24 July.

Andrián Pertout's new work The Unity of Virtue for wind symphony and optional youth orchestra will be premiered by the Ballarat Wind Orchestra during their tour of Chinese cities from Beijing to Shanghai. The composer will join the tour to present his work. Pertout's other recent works include a homage to Karlheinz Stockhausen entitled L'architecture du cosmos, a solo piano work commissioned by Paris-based pianist María Paz Santibañez.

The 2013 Paul Lowin Prize-winner, Elliott Gyger's giving voice, will be performed for the first time in a Halcyon concert in Sydney on 12 July, along with works by Nigel Butterley and David Lumsdaine. The Sydney-based Halcyon will join forces with the Adelaide-based Soundstream Collective for two concerts in September to present world premieres of new works by Gerard Brophy, David Harris and David Kotlowy (see concert details in the AMC Calendar for 2 September and 6 September). Also included in the program is Andrew Ford's Lowin Prize -shortlisted Willow Songs.

The Marais Project has commissioned new works to celebrate their 15th anniversary year in 2014. The first of these, Mathematics of Motion by Alice Chance, was premiered in Sydney on 25 May in a concert of music by Rameau. 'I know Rameau to have been an extremely adventurous composer, who had an impeccable understanding of harmony... and a talent to capture and evoke movement in his works... I have tried to bring about a similar sense of movement with my work, but also the restraint he is famous for using', Chance explains (read more in an interview with Alice on the Marais Project website). Other concerts by the Marais Project in 2014 will feature new music by Emily-Rose Sarkova, Paul Cutlan, Siebe Pogson and Matt McMahon.

Kristian Ireland's luminous for alto flute and amplification - a large-scale work of almost 30 minutes - was premiered by Richard Craig at City University London, UK, in February 2014. Ireland was an artist in residence in March-April 2014 at Fondazione Sassi Matera Arts Promotion Centre Finland, in Matera - a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Basilicata, Italy.

The City of Culture Festival in Limerick, Ireland, has commissioned Chamber Made Opera to create a new work with Irish artists. Wake, composed by Tom Lane, directed by Maeve Stone and choreographed by Katherine O'Malley, will be performed in the living room of a private home in Limerick on 15-20 July. The work is a response to an old legend about St Munchin who grew so furious at the lack of help from the locals in building his church in Limerick that he prayed strangers would prosper in the town and the locals would remain forever unfortunate.

Performances and tours

Brett Dean has been appointed 'artist in association' with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the 2014-15 concert season. Works to be performed in London over the year include Electric Preludes, The Annunciation (a 2012 work for SATB choir and small orchestra), trumpet concerto Dramatis personae, and The last days of Socrates. For more details, see the BBC website. Dean is also the 2014 featured composer of the Australian National Academy of Music - for ANAM concerts with Dean's music, see the AMC Calendar 8 August, 26 September, 1 August. In October, Dean will conduct his Dramatis personae concerto with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (22-24 October), with Håkan Hardenberger as soloist, and, in November, the Australian String Quartet is touring with Dean's new work for soprano and string quartet And once I played Ophelia (Greta Bradman as soprano soloist - for tour details, see the ASQ website).

Sound Lur and Serpent is a new work for brass and percussion composed by Andrew Schultz for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's tour of China in June-July 2014. The orchestra, conducted by their new chief conductor David Robertson, will present performances in Shanghai, Jinan, Beijing, Xi'an, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, with the new work by Schultz opening the concerts.

Speak Percussion toured Taiwan in May with a program 'Circuit' including works of three Australian composers. The program was similar to the one presented by Speak at the Berliner Festspiele in 2013, featuring Thomas Meadowcroft's work Cradles, Anthony Pateras's Hypnagogics and Matthew Shlomowitz's Popular Contexts Volume 6. Read a review of the performance at the 8th Taiwan International Percussion Convention (Partial Durations blog).

Chris Williams's work Altjiranga Mitjina for string orchestra and Andrew Ford's work The Past for countertenor, flute and strings were performed in London in May as part of the Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts (more details of the program by Ruthless Jabiru and countertenor Russell Harcourt).

Larry Sitsky's 80th birthday will be celebrated in September. Sitsky's student, composer and pianist Adam Cook got there before everyone else with his personal tribute concert featuring Sitsky's 2nd piano sonata, a work that Cook has a close personal relationship with (read Jennifer Gall's review of the event in the Sydney Morning Herald). The next opportunity to hear a major Sitsky work will be in a Sydney concert on 18 July by soprano Jane Sheldon, featuring the 2005 song cycle Seven Zen Songs (2005) for voice and viola. The concert is also the launch event of Sheldon's new travelling concert series Symbioses, featuring contemporary works for duo and trio. The first concert also includes music by Nicholas Vines and Jack Symonds.

Andrea Keller Quartet, with special guest Scott Tinkler, gave several concerts in Germany and Luxembourg as part of the Australian-German cultural exhange project Cologne Meets Melbourne. The tour covered seven cities, including Dresden, Munich and Cologne, and also featured the German jazz saxophonist and composer Christina Fuchs and her 'No Tango' quartet.

In April, Paul Grabowsky, Peter Knight, Gian Slater, Niko Schauble, Scott Tinkler and Erkki Veltheim travelled to Toronto to collaborate with a group of musicians from Soundstreams, Canada, to present the iconic AAO piece Passion alongside a new commission from Montreal-based composer, Nicole Lizee, also written in response to Bach's St Matthew Passion. You can read a report about the concert or watch a video (Vimeo) - the abrupt end of the video is due to a power cut that ended the concert before its time.

Ensemble Offspring traces the avant-garde legacy of Iannis Xenakis in their program 'Plekto' - 'a virtuosic and adventurous selection of seldom heard chamber music for sextet from around the globe'. The Australian work in the mix is Anthony Pateras's Broken Then Fixed Then Broken - also included are works by Saariaho, Furrer, Harvey and Waller. Concerts take place in Sydney on 8 July and Brisbane's Newstead 11 July.

New releases

Alister Spence has just released a CD of duo improvisations with the US pianist and composer Myra Melford. Everything Here Is Possible was officially launched at the Alister Spence Trio gig at Seymour Centre's Sound Lounge in Sydney on 20 June. The improvisations were recorded at the ABC's studios in Sydney in late 2012 when Melford was touring in Australia with her band. Gerry Koster, host of the ABC's radio program Jazz Up Late, invited Myra and Alister to record an improvised set of music for his show, with very little forward planning about the form the improvisations would take. The tracks on the album are unedited and in the order that they were performed - a meeting of musical minds just as it happened. See Rufus Records website for samples, and listen to a podcast interview with Spence (ABC Classic FM).

Other CD releases added to the AMC's online catalogue recently include Karin Schaupp's Mosaic - Australian guitar concertos (Bracanin, Charlton, Edwards, Sculthorpe); The Bitter Suite by Paul Grabowsky Sextet; The complete piano concertos by Malcolm Williamson (Piers Lane & TSO), The Iridescent Flute by Neil Fisenden, flute, and David Wickham, piano (Allen, Ghandar, Hanson, Howlett, Paviour, Wilcher); The Red of a Woman's Heart (songs by Allen, Glanville-Hicks, Hanson, Phillips, Sutherland) by Lisa Harper-Brown and David Wickham; Addicted to bass by flutist Alicia Crossley (music for bass flute by Batt-Rawden, Oliveiro, Pozniak, Williams et al.).

Cat Hope and John Ryan's new book, Digital Arts: An Introduction to New Media, was released at the end of June by Bloomsbury Academic. Digital Arts is an introduction to new media art through key debates and theories. The volume begins with the historical contexts of the digital arts, discusses contemporary forms, and concludes with current and future trends in distribution and archival processes. Available through Amazon as paperback or ebook.

Wildbird, a new Australian publisher of music and books on music, has released two volumes in their 'Australian Composers' series: The Music of Peter Sculthorpe, by John Peterson, and The Music of Richard Meale by Michael Hannan. Analytical rather than biographical in nature, these books focus on the musical language used by Sculthorpe and Meale. The series is edited by composer Brian Howard - more details on the publisher's website.

Composer and sound artist Lawrence English is getting ready to release his new album Wilderness of Mirrors on the Room40 label. Two years in the making, Wilderness of Mirrors reflects English's interests in extreme dynamics and densities. 'During the course of this record,' English explains, 'I was fortunate enough to experience live performances by artists I deeply respect for their use of volume as an affecting quality, specifically Earth, Swans and My Bloody Valentine. I had the chance to experience each of these groups at various stages in the making of this record and each of them reinforced my interest in emulating that inner ear and bodily sensation that extreme densities of vibration in air brings about.' The album will be available in late July - for preorders, see website.

Anni Heino is a Finnish-born journalist and musicologist, and Editor (Communications & Resonate) at the Australian Music Centre.


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