Three Distinct Parts of a Shadow: An interview with Mark Wolf

Mark Wolf

Angus was keen to find out a little more about Mark Wolf while learning his solo vibraphone piece 'Umbra-Penumbra-Antumbra'. Hear Angus perform this piece at Kupka's Piano at the Imperial Room this Sunday 12th of June, 4pm at the Imperial Room. Tickets are $25 including an amazing afternoon tea. To book your seat contact avonfun42@gmail.com.

Angus Wilson: Thanks for taking the time out to meet me Mark, can you tell us a little bit about your current projects and compositions?

Mark Wolf: Sure. As you may already know, I am currently undertaking my PhD candidature at the Queensland Conservatorium. At present, I am developing creative approaches for translating architectural ‘space’ into musical ‘time’. My most recent compositions are specifically based on unconventional spatial design qualities exhibited in extreme examples of contemporary architecture.

At the end of this month I fly out to Sibiu, Romania for the Icon Arts Festival where I will be a composer-in-residence. I will be there for two weeks working with the RTÉ ConTempo Quartet who will be performing my second string quartet "The Flying Roof".

I currently have a handful of works in progress including a 'pierrot' chamber ensemble (Flute, Clarinet, Piano, Violin and Cello) piece "Less is a Bore", which I have been working on for nearly 18 months, it is about 80% complete and is based on the deconstructivist architecture of the UFA Cinema Center in Dresden. Also in the works is a piano solo for Alex Raineri. Titled Crystal Cloud, based on the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, the piece sees a shift in spatio-temproal focus, from a direct abstract association with architecture to a more sensual approach to considering the orientation and inhabitant’s navigation of a designed space. Other works include a collection of 12 miniature structures, a piano trio and an orchestral piece.

AW: You spent some time in the UK... what did you do over there?

MW: Yes, I was based in London from 2009 to 2012. I was awarded a scholarship to undertake the Masters Advanced Composition Programme at the Royal College of Music. I graduated in 2011 and thanks to my Scottish mother I acquired dual citizenship and a European passport, which afforded me the opportunity to stay a while longer and spend some time travelling throughout Europe.

AW: What inspired you to write for the vibraphone? Can you tell us a little about your piece?

MW:Well I had composed a solo vibraphone piece back in 2002 and had always wanted to revisit writing for the instrument. Umbra-Penumbra-Antumbra was written in 2010, during my time in London.  The umbra, penumbra and antumbra are the names given to the three distinct parts of a shadow, created by any light source. In the case of this piece the light source is the sun and the occluding body is planet Earth as observed from the moon. UPA is a single movement work divided into three sections shifting in accordance to the gradual shadow variation cast by the Earth.   

AW: You mentioned to me that Umbra-Penumbra-Antumbra marked a change in compositional style... can you tell us a little bit about that change?

MW: Umbra-Penumbra-Antumbra marked more than a change in composition style, upon reflection, it is the piece that signaled a change in compositional thought. I became increasingly captivated by experiences of time and identifying the evident traits for measuring varied perceptions of musical time. UPA is the first piece where I consciously considered 'time' an integral component of the creative process. UPA sees early experiments with approximate tempo indications, an assortment of non-measured open-extended-beams and the omission of barlines, all attempts at removing pulse and deliberately inviting the performer(s) own temporal interpretation.

AW: What are you three favorite places in Brisbane?

MW:It is not exactly in Brisbane, but my number one favourite place would have to be Mt. Tamborine. My partner and I live quite close and head up there regularly on the Harley. It is a fantastic distraction from my work, taking in the amazing scenery and views definitely help clear the mind.

The other two I have to say are a bit of a struggle. I have been in Brisbane two years now, the time has gone by so fast I still feel like I am the new guy in town. I love being in the Red Box space in the State Library of Queensland building. I enjoy sitting on the tiered wooden seating and silently witnessing a perfectly framed, cut out portion of the city across the river  and thinking with my stomach I cannot go past The Greek Club. That place serves the best Greek food I have ever had!