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Paul Copeland (1947-2022) : Associate Artist

Copeland writes, 'In 2016, technology has reached a point where I can compose music, develop sound sculptures, produce high-resolution videos and create digital art that would have been impossible to produce previously. To me, artistic creation is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration'.

Random Audio Sample: Audacious binary forms : for one performer on 2 pianos by Paul Copeland, from the CD Audacious Binary Forms


Photo of Paul Copeland

Photo: various

Paul Copeland is an award-winning multi-genre composer, graphic artist, programmer, teacher, and author, based in his home city of Melbourne. His compositional styles range from neo-classical, jazz, ragtime, and musical theatre to electronic, avant-garde, post-avant-garde, and experimental music.

Born in 1947, Copeland grew up an only child in a musical household. His mother was a talented singer, his father an accomplished amateur pianist, composer of popular music, and internationally renowned travelling telepathist known as Argus The Boy Prophet.

Copeland's musical studies commenced at the age of 16 when he began studying piano, and a year later, he enrolled at the Melba Conservatorium in pursuit of a Performer's Diploma which was not completed because of the early death of his father.

Copeland then began studying composition with Felix Werder.

Copeland is a recipient of a composition grant from the Australia Council of the Arts Music Board. Some of his most notable compositions include his String Quartet 1, a graphics-based aleatoric score premiered by members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Subterranean Rivers (for horn, oboe, trumpet, percussion and two synthesisers). Both have been broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Australian Percussion Ensemble, (led by John Seal) premiered Copeland's Continuum for Six at the National Gallery of Victoria. The internationally recognised contemporary music ensemble Australia Felix, once led by Copeland's teacher, Felix Werder, has taken Copeland's music overseas to Germany and Italy. Copeland's musical theatre credits include a performance of Multitududinalpolychromatic Transformations by members of the Australian Ballet School, which included a montage of his electronic music and instrumental music.

An accomplished computer graphics artist and programmer, Copeland has also received a commendation in 1985 from digital art pioneer Laurence Gartel for his print Suspicious Shapes Number One, from the Diary of a Madman, which he entered in the world's first international computer art competition. Several of his prints have been sold to private collectors. Additionally, three of his books on computer programming have been published: Using your Vic 20 as a Music Synthesiser; The Penguin Book of Commodore 64 Games; and the Penguin Book of Vic 20 Games.

Copeland's work remains at the forefront of experimental multi-genre art, though he also enjoys composing easy piano works for children. He has been greatly influenced by Luciano Berio's Circles and Karlheinz Stockhausen's Klavierstucke I-IV Nr. 2

Biography written by Jeremy Reynolds, a freelance music journalist based in Texas USA. 2017 (publication rights granted to Copeland by Reynolds).

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Latest update by Copeland 2021

Copeland considers Audacious Binary Forms as being his most important work to date.

The notation is a mix of graphics and traditional notation. There are many combinations and permutations of the score. The duration of the work if played in full can last approximately 45 minutes. If played as a minimalist work, the duration would be less than one minute.

The term binary in the title represents the contrasting Structures of the content; the more classical traditional use of the piano, which was played on the Steinway piano, and the more adventurous experimental use of the piano, which was played on the Stuart and Sons piano with 102 keys.

Michael Kieran Harvey in introducing the world premiere to the audience said.

'I'm dressed in this way (note: Harvey wore a white shirt and black trousers) because of the second piece I'm going to play; it's called Audacious Binary Forms, and Paul has decided that his piece will reflect in every possible way, his sense of the binary. And I think it's incredibly apt, really, that he's decided to go this way because of the - well, in my mind, anyway, the threats on democracy from the binary ideas which are now cementing themselves in the world.

And so, black and white, you can't get much more binary than that. Religion and secular society can't get much more binary than that. And poor old democracy is trying to integrate all of these forces, these binary forces which are determined to entrench themselves and destroy what we have as a culture.'

Copeland was diagnosed in 2014 with Mixed Effective State, a serious form of bipolar. Although he was not a danger to himself or his family, the diagnosis resulted with him spending three weeks in a psychiatric hospital and two weeks inrespite before he could go back home. In hindsight the bipolar condition probably contributed to his manic efforts to complete the composition of Audacious Binary Forms, which was worked on frantically to meet the deadline. Regarding his bipolar condition he is not afraid to talk about it. As the psychiatrist said to Copeland when he was discharged from the psychiatric hospital 'You simply have a chemical imbalance in your brain.' Since 2014 Copeland has been on medication, which he will be on for the rest of his life.

Copeland is an introverted musician who has mild claustrophobia. He has never performed in public.


Studied with

Felix Werder (1969 - 1980)

 

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2016 Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition Winner Audacious binary forms