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8 June 2011

MODART diaries 2011 - Alex van den Broek

Alex van den Broek Image: Alex van den Broek  

In February 2011, seven young composers attended the first MODART workshops for 2011 in Sydney. This year is the 5th edition of the biennial professional development program, initiated by The Song Company and the Australian Music Centre. The participants discuss their experiences in their MODART diaries - for more MODART blog articles and information about the program and its participants, please see the MODART web page on AMC Online.

Reflecting back on the February/March MODART workshops with Roland and The Song Company brings back great memories - and also ongoing challenges - for me. The experience was simply excellent. Firstly, it is invaluable to work with such high quality musicians. Not to mention a real luxury! The singers are all so exceptional, and also so generous with their wealth of musical experience and their willingness to sing anything.

I also learned so much from working with Roland and observing him work with the singers and the other composers. Roland is an excellent leader and teacher, and is good at understanding a composer's intentions. He is able to look into your idea and help you bring that out in a more clear, concise and exciting way.

The idea for my work changed a lot during the week - just hearing the sonic possibilities of the ensemble helped this. The more I heard them the more I got to know their sound, and sound is the material I work with so understanding this is very important. Six voices is a very tricky combination of instruments and not something I had heard before I went to my first Song Company concert in October of 2010.

I brought a wide variety of material to the workshop, and after the workshops I was not happy with much of it, sonically speaking, but hearing it was invaluable to my subsequent choices and process. I learned what was not going to work!

I had a good time meeting with other composers also. Everyone had such different ideas for their music. This enhances the learning experience as you get to hear things that you would not have considered yourself. I also very much enjoyed the trip we took out to Cockatoo Island. It was great to see where the performance was going to be held and it was also really nice to explore the island and socialise with the other composers and Roland in this very strange and exciting setting.

Further links

'Seven composers participate in MODART 2011 workshops' - Resonate 28 February 2011
The Song Company (www.songcompany.com.au/)

Alex van den Broek has studied under the tutelage of John Cousins, Chris Cree-Brown and Elaine Dobson. He received his first professional premiere by 175East (2003) and has been awarded five compositional awards, including the Douglas Lilburn Prize (2003/2004/2009) the Michael Toovey Memorial Prize (2003) and the Madrigal Singers Prize (2004). He is also the recipient of two compositional grants from Creative New Zealand in 2005 and 2008. Alex also plays trumpet and keyboard in a variety of ensembles and bands, as well as working as a freelance composer, arranger, educator and conductor.


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