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30 March 2009

The MODART diaries, part V

Mark Oliveiro Image: Mark Oliveiro  

Mark Oliveiro continues our series of Modart diaries. The fourth edition of the Modart composer development initiative by AMC and The Song Company was set to motion in Sydney at the beginning of February.

The composition process is always a challenge. The workshopping process is often an arduous and anxious affair. Rehearsals with any ensemble, especially a professional one, will always expose flaws and inconsistencies. The culmination of this can lead to the suppression of ideas, expressiveness and creativity.

I have experienced none of the above with The Song Company, Roland Peelman and the MODART program. It has to be said that, between the workshopping opportunities, consultations with the artistic director and continuing support from the AMC, the MODART program is the premier professional development program for young composers in Australia.

The January MODART workshops were workshops in the truest sense of the word. That is, they were not a mere set of rehearsals or run-throughs, producing a short list of technical impossibilities and performance problems. The Song Company freely asked questions, offered professional advice and lent ideas which were then applied, tried and tested. The ensemble, led by Roland, took snippets of our music and offered a reworking of the original cell. This re-evaluation of the material was not designed to alter technical failings in a work, but to provoke otherwise undiscovered new direction in the creative process. This method was offered to every composer, including myself. This was invaluable.

I appreciated that the insight of the ensemble was not bound to pitches, articulations and dynamics but extended into the realms of conceptualisation. Questions were asked and ideas were offered. 'How does the texture reflect your interpretation of the text?' 'I can feel a great sense of the atmosphere you are trying to evoke, the harmony works well!' The Song Company showed great respect for our music on many levels; this was a great encouragement to us all.

My own work, which uses a Malay Creole text and features the use of live electronics, was a demanding set of sketches for all involved. The Song Company remained flexible and supportive, whilst Roland was insightful and creatively provocative.

The merits of this program exist beyond the workshops and rehearsals. When I met Roland, three months later at a post-concert event, he said to me, 'You must now remove yourself as a technical engineer and step into the role as a composer, you must listen!' This, I think, exemplifies the wealth of experience offered to us in this program.


Further links

Melbourne concert details (18 July) - AMC calendar
Sydney concert details (19 July) - AMC calendar
Modart 2009 (www.amcoz.com.au/projects/modart/modart2009.htm)
The Song Company (http://www.songcompany.com.au/)
The Modart Diaries, part I - Lachlan Skipworth (www.resonatemagazine.com.au/article/the-modart-diaries-part-i.html)
The Modart Diaries, part II - Amy Bastow (www.resonatemagazine.com.au/article/the-modart-diaries-part-i.html)
The Modart Diaries, part III - Melody Eötvös (www.resonatemagazine.com.au/article/the-modart-diaries-part-iii.html)
The Modart Diaries, part IV - Rae Howell (www.resonatemagazine.com.au/article/the-modart-diaries-part-iv.html)
Article on the Sounz website by the NZ participant Alex Hay (http://sounz.org.nz/news_articles/show/162)
Mark Oliveiro - homepage (http://www.markoliveiro.com.au/)


Mark Oliveiro started composing at the age of fourteen experimenting with midi, electronic and computer composition. After studying composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of music, he is now pursuing his Master's degree in Composition at the Jacobs School of Music at the University of Indiana. His music has been performed in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, Germany, Eritrea, Canada and the US. From late 2007 to the present , Mark Oliveiro has been active as composer in residence at the Wells-Metz theatre in Indiana, USA.


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