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15 June 2011

Speak Emerging Artists speak: Micah Brown

Micah Brown Image: Micah Brown  

The participants in Speak Percussion's Emerging Artists Program write about the intense period of rehearsals and the final performances in Melbourne in April 2011. For their thoughts after the earlier 'creative development week' in December, please see this article on Resonate blog. For more blog articles by program participants, see the Resonate blog.

In April we enjoyed another hectic week of events. Four solid days of rehearsing, with recording sessions and a performance on the fifth, then the Meadowcroft concert on the sixth night, with additions of attending the Speak rehearsals for the said concert, plus the composition workshops interspersed between and then practising into the night, made for a very tiring but fantastic and fulfilling week. It was a fitting way to end the program.

My piece, evolve theory, featured Eugene, my brilliant collaborator Anna Ng, and the also really talented Rory Hannan and Lionel Pierson. It was a huge pleasure, working with them all to bring the piece into being. The working environment was really focused and we got through a relatively large amount of material in quite a short amount of time (as was the same with the rehearsals for all of the pieces). Also being my first conducting gig, it was a huge bonus having the feedback from everybody in that regard. It was particularly thrilling to see how dedicated everybody was to putting on a great performance - practice sessions at Rory's, and the marvellous substitute 'floors' (blue board and a tap-dancing practice board which happened to be on hand) for the spinning brake drums that Rory and Anna came up with late in the game.

The piece had undergone enormous transformations since the initial week. Material certainly was retained from the initial ideas, but in truth it was a new piece. Having quite a lot of time after the December week to bring clarity to the work was really positive. The questions, sounds and ideas Anna and I were thinking about in December had time to become much more focused; although perhaps naturally they underwent their own transformative processes in that time. Of the three movements of evolve theory, the last is dedicated to Anna particularly because of her really generous input and her openness to read and untangle my conceptual ramblings (can't thank her enough!).

It was an irreplaceable experience, learning from Eugene and Leah, as well as Anna, Lio and Rory, about the nuances of percussion instruments. The same goes for the workings in rehearsal through performance problems (rhythmic issues were particularly fascinating to work through, among others), and I benefitted immeasurably from the time spent disentangling the complexities, both being involved in and witnessing other rehearsals from afar. Similarly, having a chance to get to know some more music by the other composers was a good experience and Thomas [Meadowcroft] is wonderfully open to giving feedback and perspective.

I hope that this program will continue so that more composers and percussionists get the chance to participate. It's a really brilliant program, on all counts; working with Thomas, the Speak guys, and the participating percussionists, was thrilling. My thanks go out to Speak Percussion for giving me the opportunity.

Read also: Anna Ng's blog article about collaborating with Micah.

Further links

'Speak Percussion's emerging artists speak for themselves' - Resonate blog (22 December 2010)
Speak Emerging Artists Program (Speak Percussion website)

Subjects discussed by this article:

Micah Brown is a composer in Brisbane studying with Gerard Brophy. He is influenced by late modernists and experimenters such as Iannis Xenakis and Gerard Grisey. Recent projects include the Speak Percussion Emerging Artists Program and the Sounding Out Composers Collective 2011 concert 'Transients'.


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