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braneworlds reflections, part 1

Liam Flenady reflects on his new piece "braneworlds", which Kupka's premiered at our last Judith Wright Centre concert on October 7...

On Friday night, Kupka’s Piano performed my new braneworlds as part of the ‘Tautologies, Transitions, Translations’ concert, alongside wonderful works by Hannah Reardon-Smith, Michael Mathieson-Sandars, Alan Lawrence, and Eric Wubbels. In the interest of gathering my thoughts about this, and documenting the entire creative process (including the reflection-assessment stage) for the PhD, here’s the first of two more or less stream-of-consciousness reflections on rehearsing and performing my piece.

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That’s us playing braneworlds at the Judy on Oct 7 (thanks to Kathleen McLeod for the photo).

The first thing to mention I guess is the fact that I played guitar with the ensemble for braneworlds. This is the first time I’ve done this, and the first time I’ve performed ‘new music’ at all, really, having come from a rock and jazz background, and having more or less quit the guitar about 7 years ago when I seriously began composing.

The experience was an interesting and very enjoyable one. It changed my perspective as a composer somewhat. Being less exterior to the work, I felt I was more able to treat the performance as a performance, and less as a score to be represented. In this scenario, the ‘simplest’ parameters of dynamic definition and balance, and cleanliness of entrances and exits of sections, became the most important elements, rather than the pitch and rhythm elements internal to the sections, for example.

Having practiced this piece about four times as much as the others in the group (since their capacity to wing it in this style far outstrips mine), and having played most of the work very well in rehearsals, I nonetheless had the inevitable freakout when I came to perform it. In the first section in which I play, I was distracted worrying about whether the clicktrack for Group III (clarinet and piano) was actually working. This entirely threw me, and I was pretty much all over the place in the first few sections. I likewise was distracted thinking about the balance of the piece later on and heard my count-in wrong in my chordal section, and entered early, which again threw me somewhat… Having said all that, I held up ok in most of the rest of the work, and nailed a couple crucial passages, so not bad for a first go.

So being a composer performing their own music comes with difficulties. One thing that really intensified these was the specific construction of the work and its technological dimension. The fact that there isn’t a score for the work, but only four parts, and the fact that everyone was buried in their own part and clicktrack meant that performers (myself included) had very little awareness during many sections of what was happening around them. This week I’ll be drawing a graphic representation of the whole piece as a kind of ‘study score’, but in retrospect it would have been much better to try to have this available during rehearsals.

Nonetheless, it is an interesting, and I think effective, way to rehearse: only a very vague amount of attention was paid to ensemble coordination, dynamics, balance, etc, during rehearsal itself (though clarinetist Annie Larsen very kindly came to two rehearsals just to give some basic feedback). A recording was made during rehearsal that I later listened to and took notes. I then read out to the ensemble before the following rehearsal, and we tried to then be a little more conscious of those aspects. With more rehearsal for future performances/recordings, I think we will reach a really powerful performance of the work.

I really enjoyed the confidence that the clicktrack lent to the performance. It meant that entrances were (almost) always completely bang on target, and people were able to play with a lot of confidence in some essential aspects of the work, and could therefore stress more about getting their own parts right, and getting more clarity to gestures, etc. We don’t have to worry about who is cueing whom, and we don’t have to have a conductor. (Obviously it also enables a performance in multiple tempos and time signatures as well, and the shifting between temporal stratification and temporal unison across different groups, which is one of the key ideas of the piece.) In the end, for this concert we ran the work about 5 times in total in rehearsal, with a couple of sectionals for each group. That was sufficient for the premiere. With a score of this complexity, without the clicktracks (even if everyone was in the same tempo, and even if there was a conductor), rehearsals would have been much more complicated and time-consuming just to get together basic elements like coordinating entrances, not getting lost, etc.

Obviously this takes out the conversational, ‘chamber music’ aspect of the piece. (Although not entirely. With more rehearsal and comfort with the various parts, and with clicktrack performance, each musician would be a little more freed up to explore the interrelations between parts). A year or two ago, I would have discarded it for this very reason. The kind of Adornian idea, however, that this kind of non-hierarchical chamber music, where the time is controlled collectively and internally to the subject of performance, is somehow more free than a music where the performers are ‘dominated’ by an external technological device, which controls their time (above which stands the authoritarian composer), misses a couple things. Firstly, the clicktrack makes possible musical relations and experiences simply not possible without it, and thus is a vehicle for our aural liberation. Secondly, the collaboration involved in the creation of this kind of music (amongst the musicians, and between the composer and the musicians), is very far from a model of authoritarian structures. In fact, I felt this was the most egalitarian piece I have written, partly because I was also subjected to the performance experience, and partly because it was my most thoroughly prepared piece, with a lot of logistical stuff sorted out in advance.

Creating the clicktrack itself was a time-consuming process. After I had determined the number of pulses and tempo of each group for each ‘region’ of the work (as I’ve described in an earlier post), I created a click-track via midi in Logic for each section at the point of beginning to compose it. I then bounced that and dropped it into the overall click file, which included each group as a separate channel (sometimes I had to time stretch the region slightly to fit its intended length, since the tempo I wrote in the score was sometimes rounded slightly from the value I determined mathematically).

I then bounced each click separately, so there were four independent clicktracks. I had initially thought of having just one computer, which would play a 4-channel file, which would then go through a multi-channel DAI and perhaps into wireless headphones, but the cost was somewhat prohibitive. Fortunately, my friend Vincent Giles in Melbourne provided me with a Max patch that creates a server-client situation so that sending a bang from one computer will start the clicktrack on all four computers. Obviously a network connection needs to be established across the four. I was initially going to go through the Judith Wright Centre’s wifi, but was advised against that by the Judy technician (it just wasn’t reliable enough in his opinion), so I decided to buy my own router and lan cables. This made it very easy in fact, once I had fixed some weird connectivity issues on some laptops. Anyway, once all connected, the laptops just needed some headphone splitters and headphone extension cables so that two people could access each laptop. To make sure that the audience couldn’t hear our click, we got headphones with noise-reducing rubber earbuds, and taped up each of our spare headphone with toilet paper and electrical tape.

Now that I have all the gear, this piece is actually a fairly straightfoward thing to perform, so perhaps we’ll be doing it again soon. The plan is also to record it very soon for Kupka’s very first album… which will be an interesting process unto itself.

Ok, that’s it for this post. In the next post I’ll take up some specific aspects of the composition that I thought were either particularly effective, or are in need of revising…

Program notes from Ben Mark's percussion solo

Below is the program note for Ben Mark's new percussion solo 'Passage 4 Artefact 1' from the Circular Ruins 2. It will be presented by Angus Wilson tomorrow night at Pierrot! 7.30pm at the Judy.  Passage 4 Artefact 1 could be considered an artefact in terms of both definitions of the word.

The first definition comes from the archeological context:

"An object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest".

Passage 4 Artefact 1 is essentially reassembled material from Passage 4, a percussion solo that was one of four overlaid solos in my outdoor work The Circular Ruins 2. This piece sourced its material from a slowed down recording of a noisy, resonating gate that was found in the performance location at Oxley Creek Common. Passage 4 had eight sections all drawing upon the same rhythmic and pitch template. The shifting colour of the various instruments used on each articulation of the template (hi-hat, glöcken, 3 cymbals, 3 drums, bass drum), and a change in tempo of each rereading of the template, was an attempt to retell the ‘story’ of the closing gate, as if these colourful retellings could somehow change fate and the deny the inevitable closure.

While Passage 4 had this loose narrative its expressive purpose was very much tied to its relationship with the distant layering of the other solos, that made up The Circular Ruins 2, and the various environmental sounds that surrounded it: birds, planes, trains, a leaf blower, a gate, and traffic. To present Passage 4 as it is, as a denuded artefact, would be to strip it of its expressive functionality. In considering it as a stand-alone solo in a recital context, I felt a need to break the piece and reassemble it to suit its new environment. New processes were applied in its reconstruction. The larger sections were reordered and, given its loss of environmental accompaniment, new internal layerings of materials were worked in. Windows were cut out of each layer to reveal other layers, creating occasional recurring refrains, often disguised by attack or instrumentation. Within these windows are different time scales, reflecting the tempos of the various parts of the original.

The second definition of artefact is a follows:

"Something observed in a scientific investigation or experiment that is not naturally present but occurs as a result of the preparative or investigative procedure."

All the Passages from The Circular Ruins 2 functioned very much like environmental artefacts. They were each composed after an investigation of the sonic space and, in performance emerged from this space as ephemeral bursts of expressive energy, much akin to various light distortions (artefacts) one might find in certain photographs. In this sense Passage 4 Artefact 1 is an artefact of an artefact: a re-assemblage of an environmental emanation. The closing gate is still fundamental in some way but it's direct sound is now absent. The gate can become either much more or much less in our imaginations: a long lost story whose importance is subject to conjecture. What is of importance is what continues to resonate within the piece. It is not just a closing gate that gave life to the original but my response to it, and the artefact carries something of that response. As the gate and outdoor context is lost, the musical intent is emphasized, exposed and refined through the new, broken structures whose relationship to the original becomes ever more coincidental.

 

 

The sleep of reason produces music...

Ahead of the premiere performance of his piece The Sleep of Reason at the Kupka's Piano concert on April 19, composer Jakob Bragg talks about what inspired the piece and what some of the sonic ideas therein. Make sure to book your ticket today!

Jakob Bragg: As my works delve more and more into that murky subterranean post-tonal world, my art has found a renewed purpose, taking on those worldly issues closest to me.

It was after beginning my postgraduate studies, having learnt with a variety of composition teachers, and experiencing a few extra thought provoking art exhibitions that I finally decided that my music would take a new turn. By no means am I considering this to be the official beginning of my ‘mature’ works; simply that music has now become more than an experiment in sounds and theory, but a vehicle for views, ideas; a stance.

The Sleep of Reason, composed for 'pierrot-type' ensemble, Kupka’s Piano, is one of my first works to address this. Taking its title from Goya’s famous etching: El sueño de la razón produce monstros (the sleep of reason produces monsters), this work is one of 80 satirical etchings and aquatints entitled ‘Los Caprichos’, condemning the many facets of Goya’s 18th-century Spain. These include comments on topics such as the aristocracy, politics, religion and the clergy, superstition, and morality.

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Goya’s etching incorporates many concerns of today’s society as it did in his; illustrating that where ignorance outweighs reason, and where sense faults, monsters such as fear, intolerance and superstition emerge, taking on well-known forms in politics and religion.

Like in other works I’m currently writing, these elements are crucial to the development, thoughts, and process of the piece, however they need not rule every component. For The Sleep of Reason, this provided a starting point and a guide to how the piece will evolve. At its simplest level I’ve juxtaposed an intense and fluid opening and ending with a slow static middle section. ‘Reason’ can be complicated and radical concepts difficult to grasp, whereas ignorance and faith lulls, and creates a fabricated sense of reassurance – this is the rather elementary impetus for my work. A pacified middle section ceases the momentum and energy of the work, and an unnerving sense of discomfort develops in the listener. Rumbles and movement begin to interfere more and more until the artificial comfort of the piece break away and reason (as brutal and difficult as it is presented here) takes back the fore.

More explicit musical materials that influence this and many of my works, include my continued exploration of microtonality and my fascination with classical Turkish music. Having delved into music of the Middle East during the end of my undergrad, and then further examining how this could affect my own works in the following years, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't interested in integrating a bastardisation of the makam (quasi-modal like structures) but rather in focussing on heterophony and form. Heterophony is a more complex monophony, a simultaneous variation of a single melodic line. A rather simplistic definition of textural aspect of Turkish music, I have been fascinated with this push and pull, and slight deviation that play out in largely unison compositions. In many instances in The Sleep of Reason, unison appears to be striving for dominance, however never quite coming to fruition, or constantly being pulled back and forth. Additionally the unique forms in Turkish music and how these develop have provided many possibilities in how my material transform, especially on the micro-scale. Instead of dictating a scalic figure or tone-row, I use certain pitches as mapping points, for example moving from a dominance of C# down to Bb.

A massive thanks to Kupka’s Piano for their tireless work and support and I look forward to seeing the diverse programme of works on the 19th!

Parallel Approaches: an interview with Lizzy Welsh

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Jodie Rottle had a quick chat to guest violinist Lizzy Welsh before rehearsals for Vortex Temporum next week. Buy tickets for the concert at this link. Friday, November 27th, 8pm at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.

Jodie Rottle: Thank you for joining us for this concert, Lizzy! This year I have had the pleasure of bumping in to you around the country in Brisbane, Bendigo and Sydney. Can you tell our readers about your life as an Australian performer? Where are you based, and what have been your highlights in 2015?

Lizzy Welsh: Thanks for having me, Jodie! It's been swell getting to know you this year and I'm thrilled to join you and Kupka's Piano next week. I'm currently based between Melbourne and Brisbane and 2015 has been a very full year so far packed with lots of different musics in Australia, Europe and Asia. I've been very lucky to have had so many incredible performances this year, it's tricky to pick out the highlights. I have to mention the many fantastic festivals including the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, Shanghai New Music Week, Wangaratta Jazz Festival, Supersense Festival of the Ecstatic- these have all been highlights not just because of the great music I got to play, but also the great music I got to see performed by my excellent colleagues. The world premiere performance of Nyilipidgi with the Monash Art Ensemble at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival was another very special project that deserves a mention.

JR: You are a specialist of baroque and contemporary music. What similarities and differences do you identify with these two genres? 

LW: This fascination with the opposite ends of the spectrum of violin music has had me hooked since I was a child and has led me to my post-graduate research at the Queensland Conservatorium where I'm currently studying extended approaches to the baroque violin in the 21st Century. It seems natural to me that a violinist would be obsessed with sounds that are new for the instrument now and sounds that were new when the violin itself was new at the dawn of the baroque era. I can't help seeing many parallel approaches between composers/improvisors now and the first composer/violinists of the early 17th Century, both driven by a desire for something new and neither hindered by preconceived ideas of how the instrument should sound. There are obvious differences in available technologies and experiences between violinists at these two different moments in history, but, in my mind, the similarities are much more significant.

JR: We will be performing Gerard Grisey's seminal "Vortex Temporum I, II, II" next Friday, which has a total performance time exceeding 40 minutes. How do you prepare for a work of this magnitude, and do you notice any similarities between "Vortex Temporum" and other compositions by Grisey, such as his work "Talea"? 

LW: Vortex Temporum is one of the most significant pieces of chamber music from the late 20th Century and I'm stoked to have the chance to play it with Kupka's Piano next week. Obviously a 40-minute-long spectral masterpiece involves a huge amount of preparation and study before rehearsals even start, so I've been in a Vortex Temporum-vortex for the last couple of months. Apart from all the practice getting the notes into my brain and my body, I'm making sure I exercise lots. I've been lucky to have a lot of extremely valuable experience with Grisey's language having the opportunity to perform his shorter Talea twice this year.

JR: Have you heard any great new music lately that you can recommend to our Brisbane audiences? What are you listening to at the moment?

LW: At the moment I'm listening to lots of crazy early music by Pandolfi Mealli, Farina and Muffat, electronica by Laurel Halo, John Zorn string quartets, new Icelandic composers recorded by Nordic Affect on their new album Clockworking, the list could go on for days.....

 

Holding Ourselves Hostage: an interview with Gemma Dawkins

unnamed (4) Kupka Pianist Alex Raineri had a brief chat with Gemma Dawkins amongst preparations for our collaboration on the 'Human Detained' showing at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Art next Friday October 30th.

Alex Raineri: It's been awesome working with you so far and I can't wait for the show on October 30th! I'm interested to know more about your artistic background and what else you're up to currently?

Gemma Dawkins: I'm really looking forward to it as well! I work mainly with MakeShift Dance Collective, devising works for festivals, events and other non-traditional spaces. It's been a little while since we created a work for a traditional theatre space so I'm really enjoying getting back into that framework. Now that I live in Sydney I've been working independently as a choreographer and movement advisor. My latest project is a photography series that I'm helping to 'choreograph' - which is very interesting for someone who works with moving images rather than still ones!

AR: 'The Human Detained’, in its various guises, is a strikingly vast thematic concept which aims to link together the various segments of the show together. Within the full group of artists involved, we've each had markedly different reactions to the thematic impetus, ranging from literal representations of current political issues, to it having a much more abstract influence on the narrative of the works. In a couple of sentences, could you explain how the approach our group has taken towards this theme will manifest on October 30th?

GD: Luckily we were all quite clear that we weren't interested so much in a literal or political approach, but rather more intrigued by broader concepts around detainment and stagnation. We are examining the ways in which we hold ourselves hostage - whether consciously or otherwise. We are also having a fun time with props...

AR: What does being a dancer in the 21st Century mean for you? From a musicians perspective, it seems that the world of dance is similar to music in that the influence and popularity of competitions seem to promote attention being placed onto the fastest, most athletic and virtuosic performance, without much considered intellectual engagement with the artistic value of the content. GD: Absolutely. The more our understanding of the human body develops in terms of anatomical intelligence, the more we are seeing focus on an almost Olympic style of dance. There's definitely a loss of expression, subtlety and finesse there, as amazing as some of the physical feats are. Having said that, there are also a number of choreographers and companies taking dance outside of its previous habitats and putting dance in all kinds of contexts that are thrilling and complex. One thing I love about dance in the 21st century is the collaborative element and the way that lines between dance, visual art, theatre, installation and experiment are constantly being blurred.

AR: Taking a step away from this show, what are some of the most powerful performances or shows that you've ever seen?

GD: Last year I saw Hofesh Shechter's company perform Sun and it was one of the most visceral, heart-in-your-mouth things I've ever seen. I always love to see Akram Khan, and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's work Rosas Danst Rosas was totally challenging and at the same time totally absorbing. Closer to home, watching Dancenorth perform Underground was a seismic moment for me as a dance student trying to understand what Australian dance meant, and where it fit. That just perfectly summarised it for me. But ask me again in a few months - I'm going to see Pina Bausch company at Adelaide Festival and I'm counting down the months!

AR: What are your top five favourite things? Desert island list?

GD: This is an impossible question! Can I take the whole of Spotify and its library with me? I am. I'm also taking a book library. I'll require an endless supply of avocado toast, coconut oil because it fixes everything, and a pen and paper.

Freedom and Restriction - An interview with Caitlin Mackenzie

Caitlin MacKenzie Caitlin Mackenzie is one of four dancers in 'The Human Detained'  at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art on October 30th. She is one of the leaders of MakeShift Dance and I caught up with her to get her thoughts on the project so far and find out what else she is up to!

Angus Wilson: Hi Caitlin! It's been great working with you and I'm really looking forward to our show in October. We are performing together in Steve Newcomb's 'Kicking Gaols'. Firstly, Let's find out a little more about you! What are your current projects? What are you working on at the moment?

Caitlin Mackenzie: At the moment I am having a ball working for Brisbane Festival as a movement director for the Arcadia space down at South Bank. I'm working with groups of volunteers who activate different areas of the space through movement and street performance. It is really fun! I am also about to go into a short but incredible residency at Metro Arts as part of After the Lights, which culminate in a short showing by Gabriel (who is also dancing in 'The Human Detained') and myself. A bunch of forums and activities will also be taking place throughout the day to shed some light on artists and mental health.

AW: I went to a MakeShift Dance Production earlier this year called 'one two ten' was inspired by a concept introduced to you whilst working in Korea. I had a really great night.... could you tell us a little bit about that project and concept?

CM: Yep! Well it was actually an idea that was gifted to us from the Five Arts Centre in KL, Malaysia. Gabriel and I traveled there in 2013 for a residency through Asialink. making great connections with a group of  producers and artists. They said we should take the structure of the show home to Aus to test on different audiences. So we curated a bunch of hugely talented local artists across music, dance, theatre and visual arts and asked them to devise a two minute solo which they would also need to perform on loop throughout the show. We held the show in the heritage listed building on Shafton Avenue thanks to support from the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts. We had such a fabulous response to the work from both artists and audiences and I hope it can exist again somewhere down the track.

AW: So now to The Human Detained,  how is it being both the dancer and choreographer for Kicking Gaols? What has been your experience working with Steve and myself on the piece? 

CM: It has been awful! No only joking :P It has been great. Choreographing and performing is always challenging because you need to be the outside eyes whilst being the 'body' or performer at the same time. That's why being able to talk with and share ideas across art forms is a really important part of this collab. It seemed very clear from the start of our process that we all have different strengths and I think we are pulling them together really well.

AW: How much do you find such a strong title as 'The Human Detained'  effects your artistic choices for the work?

CM: I think, while it is strong, it is also broad. My take on the title is really about looking at freedom and restriction. I suppose it has become evident through the different works, that those ideas can be approached quite realistically and on a global scale but also abstractly and on a personal level.

AW: Finally, you are a local to Brisbane, what are your five favorite places to hang on a day off?

CM: I am. I would say... 1. Picnicking at Kangaroo Point. 2. New Farm markets on a Saturday morning. 3. Do some yoga at Core Yoga and then grab a coffee at West End Coffee House right below. 4. Antique and vintage shopping at the Woolloongabba or Paddington Antique centres. 5. Hanging out in my backyard ;)

Embracing Uncertainty - Samantha Wolf

Sam wolf Samantha Wolf is a featured composer at next month's premiere of the 'The Human Detained' at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts on the 30th of October. The project is a collaboration between Kupka's Piano and MakeShift Dance Collective. Sam has written about her approach towards collaborating on this new work with Kupka pianist Alex Raineri, and MakeShift dancer Gemma Dawkins.

Collaborative projects always offer unique and interesting questions for composers. This particular project, with Kupka’s pianist Alex Raineri, and Makeshift dancer and choreographer Gemma Dawkins, posed some particularly interesting challenges. Firstly, I had never written a work for dance before. How could I ensure that this was a true collaboration between equals, and not just dancing to music? Secondly, how would we respond to such an evocative, complex theme as ‘The Human Detained’? Last but not least, the three of us lived in different cities – Gemma was in Sydney, Alex in Brisbane (and travelling a lot), and I had just moved to Melbourne. How was this collaboration going to work, artistically and practically?

It was clear from the outset that approaching this as a (stereo-)typical composer – ie, writing the score on my own, sending it off, and expecting the performers to follow my instructions – would be woefully inappropriate. Nor would I want to approach it this way – it would defeat the entire idea of collaboration, and I had been growing weary of this model for some time anyway. For this project to work, I needed to carefully reconsider what my role was going to be.

The first step was to discuss how we would respond to the theme. Although ‘The Human Detained’ had obvious political significance, Alex and Gemma were eager to explore a more abstract interpretation of this. In particular, Gemma was interested in the ways we confine and limit ourselves. Our brainstorming sessions soon included much broader concepts, such as inner conflict, solitude, introversion, agoraphobia, rationalising the irrational, fighting one's own instincts, resignation and resistance.

With such attractive, albeit difficult subject matter, my job became mulling over the ideas we had as a group, and finding the sonic potential within them. For example, Gemma wanted to incorporate ‘walking on eggshells’ into her movements, either figuratively or literally (those who attended the preview will know how this turned out!). I responded by exploring piano sounds that were ‘crunchy’, like the sound of eggshells being stepped on. Low-range chromatic chords had a particularly crunchy quality, so we ended up using those as the opening materials, and as the harmonic basis of the piece. I also wanted to capture the sense of unease encapsulated by the expression ‘walking on eggshells’, so Alex and I experimented with unpredictable rhythms and continuously changing dynamic and expressive qualities. We would record some examples and send these to Gemma, who would improvise movements around the musical ideas. Gemma would then send us a video of her movements, which would inspire more musical materials. This feedback loop of ideas, responses and materials was a useful way of building a work gradually from a distance. By the time we arrived at the workshopping phase, and were finally in the same room together, we had a wealth of ideas and materials to build on.

The biggest challenge for me was deciding what to include in the score, and what to leave out. On one hand, fully notating a conventional score from the beginning would have run the risk of discouraging input from Alex and Gemma. I purposely wanted to leave some aspects of the music open to interpretation and discussion, particularly in the early stages, to allow room for group input and experimentation. On the other hand, too little detail and the work could become unfocused, and the creative process directionless. It was important to strike a balance between asking questions and offering answers, and ensuring everyone had the opportunity to speak and be heard. I had to surrender a significant amount of control over the work, which can be challenging for someone who’s used to having her way!

However, the reward for doing so was The Binds That Tie Us, a work that was truly more than the sum of its parts. Alex and Gemma had ideas and suggestions that I would never have thought of, and took my ‘dots on the page’ to places I would never have imagined. Embracing uncertainty allowed room for greater possibilities, and produced a work that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

Now, we have the rare privilege of revisiting and expanding The Binds That Tie Us for a second concert in October. It is uncommon for new works by emerging artists to get a second run, but almost unheard of to be offered the chance to fully delve into an idea over such a generous time frame. I am hugely grateful to Kupka’s Piano and the Judith Wright Centre for facilitating this wonderful project, and for having me on board, as well as to my brilliant collaborators Alex Raineri and Gemma Dawkins, who are an absolute joy to work with, and who never cease to inspire me.

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!

Barbaric ideas and ridiculous music: An interview with flautist Tamara Kohler

Photo by Alan Weedon Melbourne based flautist Tamara Kohler joins Kupka's Piano for Outer Sounds this Friday (19th June), 7:30pm at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. Tickets are selling fast so be sure to book your tickets now! Kupka pianist Alex chats with Tamara over coffee in between rehearsals to discuss .... 

Alex Raineri: What excites you about playing contemporary music? Were there specific pieces that inspired a love of new music?

Tamara Kohler: I feel a sense of freedom when playing contemporary music that I can’t channel as strongly in other genres. I've been told countless times that this type of music reflects my personality really well- whether that’s a compliment or not, I'm yet to decide! I guess it all goes back to the first time I heard Rite of Spring. It was a score reading exercise in school, when I was about 14 and I remember thinking, "I don’t quite understand how this works but I want to do that."

AR: We're really excited to have you on board for 'Outer Sounds' while our flautists Jodie and Hannah are off on overseas adventures! Could you tell us a bit about what you've been up to lately?  

TK: After finishing up some study at ANAM last year, I went away on an adventure to India, and then followed this with an artist residency at the Banff Centre, Canada. This trip has really shaped a lot of what I've been doing for the start of this year. On top of gigs and teaching around Melbourne, I've continued work on a project that I started at the Banff Centre with some fabulous visual artists, exploring how to present a functional score as a sculptural piece. I've also been performing and planning some exciting projects my group Rubiks Collective in Melbourne.

AR: You mentioned some exciting upcoming projects, what does the rest of 2015 have in store for you? 

TK: Well, I'm off to America next week actually to play in the Bang on a Can Summer Festival! This trip will also involve some professional development sessions and a chance to reconnect with a bunch of my overseas colleagues. As for later in the year, I have some really exciting projects ahead that I can’t go into too much detail about yet, but it should be an exciting (..and busy, yikes!) time.

AR: A hot topic particularly within our generation of colleagues is the general state of opportunity and possibilities within the Australian music scene. Without wanting to offer any of my own opinions on the subject, i'm really keen to hear your thoughts about what you love about being a freelance musician based in this country? Is overseas study something that is firmly on the horizon for you?  

TK: I've been lucky enough to have a series of great study bursts overseas, through which I most-definitely developed as a musician and a thinker. I think this is important for the development of any classical musician. Even if you aren't going to study music, go to Europe to touch the walls and breathe the air of where our whole legacy began. Though certainly in terms of flute education, we have world class teachers all over this country. There is no doubt about it.

Australia has so many fantastic musicians and yes, there possibly isn’t enough work to go around for all of them, in terms of earning a stable income. However, as a freelance musician, I think if you are passionate about a certain type of music or project, then it is your job to search for those like-minded colleagues, get out there with them and present what you love. I'm so lucky that I've found a special group of colleagues and close friends who will sit with me, explore the most barbaric ideas and play the most ridiculous music. This is what inspires me currently as a freelance artist in Australia. There will always be a way to find money, I know, a funny thing to say in the wake of Brandis’s horrific arts cuts, but I always try to remain optimistic in the end.

AR: If you had the chance to work with three of your musical idols, who would you choose and why? 

TK: Jonathan Harvey: Easily my favourite composer, Harvey has such a diverse output of work, and an incredibly unique musical language. His exploration of spirituality and early pioneering in the IRCAM scene for me perfectly represents an artist who was always willing to challenge himself, never becoming complacent with what he was creating.

FKA Twigs: because she is a complete babe and I'm totally in love with her!!! Hahah, but seriously, it’s her artistry that attracts me. She consistently challenges herself to perfect every aspect of her work and further her skills in dance, music and live performance and video production. I'm not a massive fan of the pop-music scene in general, but you can feel how she has combined pop, early soul, RnB and electronic influences to create something really unique.

Pina Bausch: Sorry I've branched away from the musical scene with this last one to name Pina Bausch, the stunning German dancer and choreographer. Pina’s work has a depth of honestly to it, something that I am always really attracted to in any artistic work. But what really inspires me about her work, was her ability and generosity towards other dancers, in helping them to find their individual expression, unique to each of their personalities. What a beautiful gift!

Read more about Tamara at www.tamarakohler.com and come along to Outer Sounds to hear her in action! 

All things Australian - An Interview with composer Michael Bakrnčev

bakrncev Kupka pianist Alex takes a break from rehearsals for a yarn with composer Michael Bakrnčev. We're super excited to be giving the premiere of his new trio for flute, percussion and piano entitled 'Fortified Echoes' this Saturday 16th May at the State Library of Queensland as part of QSOCurrent

Alex Raineri: You're a very active young composer! I'm interested to hear about your latest and upcoming projects?

Michael Bakrnčev: Thank you, yeah it's important to be active, especially as a young composer - I think that's the best way to learn, by doing and learning from your actions. I have just written a clarinet quartet for Blackwood who will premiere it over in Madrid, it was really cool writing for them because I got to write for two bass clarinets which isn't something that you get to do very often. My Piano Trio based on a Macedonian folk melody will be performed later this year in Melbourne which i'm really looking forward to.

I'm currently writing a piece for sax and piano which is inspired by heavy metal and thrash metal music, lots of bashing on the piano which seems to be something that i'm interested in lately, that'll be performed in the Netherlands and here in Melbourne later in the year. I'm also writing a work for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for the Cybec composers program, which i'm looking forward to - it'll be my best and latest attempt at writing for orchestra, and I have a feeling that not everybody is going to like it, but I know that i'll probably be able to look at it from afar and think "fuck yeah mate, this isn't so bad!"

Other than that, i'm curating concerts with my orchestra, The Melbourne Met, which is going really well, the next concert is all female Aussie composers, so it should be top shelf. I've also written this fairly bad arse piece for you guys, which i'd say is one of the best pieces i've ever written.

AR: Fortified Echoes was commissioned specifically for QSOCurrent and QANZAC100. Could you tell us how the piece explores this thematic context? 

MB: For me, the main thing that I had in my mind was that part in the movie "Gallipoli" (with Mel Gibson) right at the end, when the main actor (the runner) gets shot and killed and that's where the movie freeze-frames and it rolls to credits. Thats always stuck in my mind, from the first time I watched it as a kid, and the second time as an adult. The work isn't supposed to go with that scene at all, it's just what I had in my mind while writing.

AR: How then did that affect the way you approached musical materials?

MB: The frantic-ness of the piccolo part and bashing of the piano as well as machine-gun style percussion part is all reminiscent of war. The only thing that makes any obvious reference is the alto flute part in the end, which has the beginning of the last post - the fifths - which is basically what the entire piece is based on, harmonically speaking. It's always shifting in fifths.

AR: Who are some musical idols - eg. performers/composers/colleagues/mentors?

MB: These days i'm making a shift in my musical consciousness to revolve around all things Australian. I'm not quite there yet, but the main ones that are sticking with me are my current teacher Elliott Gyger, Peter Sculthorpe, Sun-Ju Song, Phillip Gearing, Martin Crook, Mary Finsterer, Paul Grabowski, Larry Sitsky, and ensembles such as Chamber Made Opera, The Song Company, Syzygy, Plexus, Kupka's Piano, Chronology Arts, Speak Percussion and others.

But, if I look back, then influences are - Macedonian folk music, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Bartok, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel, Debussy - Guns n Roses, AC/DC, Queen, Children of Bodom, Powderfinger, The Cat Empire, Michael Jackson & JET.

AR: What are you listening to at the moment? Top five desert island pieces? 

MB: I've been listening to Peter Sculthorpe's ABC boxed set recording, with a focus on his orchestral works - it's been interesting to map his musical style from the very beginning of his professional career. I've also bought my 4th cousin's CD boxed set - Anthony Pateras' collected works - which is pretty wicked.

Top five desert island pieces ... 1) Pushteno Oro by the Boys from Buf 2) Tchaikovsky's 5th 3) Stravinsky's Rite of Spring 4) My own 'Vidi' 5) Any recording of my nephew and girlfriend talking/singing

Meanings that aren't there: An interview with Alan Lawrence

Alan Lawrence (guitarist on the right) c. 50 years ago. Kupka's Piano are excited to be presenting a new work by Alan Lawrence at QSOCurrent this Saturday afternoon in the Poinciana Lounge at the State Library of Queensland. Alan's work will be played at approximately 11am, and entry is free. Angus caught up with him to find out a little more about him and his new work 'The Instant Burst of Clamour'.

Angus Wilson: Hi Alan, thanks for taking the time to have a chat with me. You have already shared with me some great stories about your time in the UK and Europe. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your composing life thus far?

Alan Lawrence: I started out with the violin when I was about 9 or 10 but at around aged 13 my interest in the violin was eclipsed by my desire to emulate Hank Marvin, lead guitarist of the Shadows, who at that time I thought was just about as cool as you could get. So, armed with Bert Weedon's "Play in a Day", I set about becoming a guitarist. Soon after, I formed band and we did the local youth clubs and the like quite successfully (by schoolboy standards) for a couple of years. This was really the birth of my composing ambitions as I started to "write" instrumental numbers for the band. Then one night I heard a classical guitar recital on the radio and I still remember being amazed when at the end of the broadcast the announcer said that this had been John Williams on guitar. I thought, "Yeah... John Williams, whoever he is, and who else?"  I couldn't believe at first that it was just one person playing. Anyhow, much impressed I immediately switched my allegiances from Hank to John and took up classical guitar which I pursued to the Royal College of Music and beyond. But the composing bit stuck, shifting with the playing from pop to classical. I studied both composition and guitar at the RCM and have made my living from both, ever since. Anyhow, there were various compositions while still at school, chamber pieces, a rather ambitious Christmas Cantata, pieces for the local choir, and just after I left school, music for an animated film on "The Twelve Days of Christmas" made by my school's art teacher and students. That last item was where things actually took off because the film was shown at a local arts club where, by chance, a documentary film maker was in the audience. He approached me after the event and asked if I'd like to compose music for his next film. Naturally I did. So by the time I went to college I'd already written about four or five documentary film scores. A combination of playing and writing film music continued during and after college and in 1987 I stopped playing professionally and set up a small studio in central London from where I wrote a lot of music for television over the next 10 years. But before that I'd made a couple of trips to Australia with the Old Vic Theatre Company and in 1979 I'd met the actress Carol Burns, who has been my partner ever since. And that was the beginning of the Australian connection. But there are always swings and roundabouts. I was able to earn a living writing TV music but I rarely if ever had the opportunity to write music that actually interested me as music. When asked about my music in those days I used to say that I wrote music that was heard by millions and noticed by no one. In a way, that was the job. Obviously a signature tune was intended to be catchy in some way but the greater part of the music that I wrote was aimed at the subliminal and therefore avoided the intrusive; something that I hope cannot be said of "The Instant Burst of Clamour". So I was able to earn a living from composition but not from composing music that greatly interested me. There were other rewards, of course... apart from the obvious financial rewards I met lots of interesting arts and show biz personalities. (This was equally true of working in the theatre, especially at The Old Vic.) But there was also the challenge of making things work - getting the timing of cues to work perfectly, achieving the necessary degree of anonymity while at the same time insinuating the appropriate mood. But in the end, the desire to write my own music pursuing my own aesthetic objectives overcame all else and I handed my studio on to another composer and Carol and I headed back to Australia where we've been living (albeit, with regular trips to Europe) for the last 17 years. During that time I've written music only for itself, most of which has been performed and/or broadcast here or in the UK. I have revisited theatre music on a few occasions but only when Carol has been directing something and has needed some sound or music. This year is the exception and marks the first time since returning to Oz that I'll have worked on a theatre production on the open market, as it were, when I contribute to the Queensland Theatre Company production of Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days" directed by Wesley Enoch and performed by Carol and Steven Tandy.

AW: You are one of our most loyal followers, what first came to mind when asked to write for Kupka's Piano.

Alan: Okay... Well, first of all, why am I one of your most loyal followers? And the answer to that is that I saw an ad on the web for your first - at least I think it was your first - concert at the Judith Wright Centre back in 2012, was it? I saw Boulez Derive I, I saw Grisey Taléa, and I thought Hey! This is it! Some one from planet Earth has landed in Brisbane! Seriously though, what I've always liked about Kupka's Piano is the breadth of the programming. It really reminds me of the programming style of the major European ensembles like Ensemble Intercontemporain for example. You program brand new stuff in quite a variety of idioms from local and international composers but you also represent the giants of the recent past; Boulez, Grisey, Donatoni, Berio, etc. I could go on. But you know what I mean. I like that bigger picture from around a mid-century break point. And then I should mention that as prodigiously virtuosic as much of this stuff actually is, you always manage a really convincing account of the repertoire that you present. So what's not to like? Any how, the short answer to your question, what came to mind when asked to write for Kupka's Piano was "Hey - great!"

AW: Thanks so much for writing 'The Instant Burst of Clamour' for us. We will premiere at next Saturday May 16th at 11am at the Poinciana Lounge at the State Library of Queensland. Can you tell our audience a little but about the story behind it and what you envisaged with this work? Is there a link to the ANZAC 100th anniversary?

Alan: Well, I should start by saying that in my opinion all music is and must be primarily about music, that is, itself. Hermann Helmholtz wrote that music is more to do with pure sensation than any of the other arts - or something like that. I go along with that entirely. Don't get bogged down looking for meanings that aren't there. But of course there can be associations and I'd bet that most of us have certain strong associations that can be evoked by particular pieces of music. But equally, I'd bet, that few such associations were planted there by the composer. And yet we do write commemorative pieces and pieces called Estampes or Pictures at an Exhibition, etc. in other words sometimes we invite associations for pieces although the associations can only finally be made by the listener. Sorry, I wandered off the question there. So yes... it's 2015 and there's much talk of Anzacs and Gallipoli and it's a chosen theme for quite a few of this year's cultural events and I'm happy enough to make my contribution. First I should say that the celebration of Anzac now, a century later, presents a more complex proposition than the simple and sincere commemoration of events that took place at Gallipoli in 1915. Many question the appropriateness of a national celebration biased so heavily towards Anzac losses when losses overall were so numerous. Some fear that pageantry at home and tourism abroad may, at a hundred years distance, seem more a celebration of military chutzpah than an annual reminder of the folly of war. Such fears are of course amplified by an awareness of many ill-advised and reckless military adventures undertaken since 1915, always, it seems, with less regard for the men and women who actually risk their lives, than for the political or commercial capital sought by their civilian masters. Conscious of, and actually sharing many of these misgivings, I found myself seeking an Anzac association or at least a starting point for a piece of music; a means by which I could share in the current commemorations while continuing to question the very validity of the tradition. The approach that I chose was to address the matter somewhat obliquely, first from some distance, and then from a particular perspective outside the actual field of conflict but intimately sensitive to its outcomes. For distance I went to Shakespeare and for perspective I turned to the bereaved rather than the battlefield. When Hamlet meets with the players, "the tragedians of the city", he asks their leader, the first player, to repeat a speech concerning the death of King Priam in The Trojan Wars, at the hand of Pyrrhus. After describing the awful and unequal conflict between the two men in which Pyrrhus slays the "reverend Priam", the speech turns to Hecuba, the queen and wife to Priam. In a short passage of only fifteen lines the first player recounts the disarray, the distraction and finally the distraught horror with which she confronts the death of her husband in war, finishing with the lines, The instant burst of clamour that she made, Unless things mortal move them not at all, Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven, And passion in the gods. The whole of the first player's speech is extremely rhetorical in style as befits the characterisation of a theatrical performance within a theatrical performance. Obviously there is a need to up the ante, as it were, so as to distinguish the one level of dramatic representation from the other. And when, the speech now ended, the first player is moved to tears, Hamlet asks, "What's Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba?"; how can one be so moved by the anguish of some one so remote to one's own experience? Of course, Hamlet has rather more immediate issues of his own to do with grieving — and for that matter, one can wonder if the first player has been moved by the plight of Hecuba or more perhaps by his own emotional investment in the performance? This short episode in Shakespeare's celebrated tragedy, presents us with a complex of disparate elements; violent conflict matched with its collateral damage; rhetorical dramatization of distant events weighed against the perplexities of personal experience; one level of dramatic reality contrasted with another; the generosity of empathy compared to the potential for self-indulgent emotion. Music is the stuff of balances and contrasts, from the largest considerations of form to the minutest detail in the relationship between any two notes. I have chosen to model this piece on my thoughts about the balances and contrasts suggested in the Hecuba passage from the first player's speech in Hamlet as well as on the structure of the verse. The music, in itself, can say nothing about Anzac or about Hecuba or about Shakespeare but it can and does arise from my thoughts about those topics prompted by this occasion. As for direct associations, as I have said, that is for the listener.

AW: Can you tell us a little bit about your other work at the moment. I saw a great performance of a work by you 'Kattrin's Drum' by David Montgomery late last year, what is the life for this piece?

Alan: Yes. Dave is a really terrific performer; an excellent musician but a really theatrical (in the best sense of the word) performer, and he played my piece really well. I think he's doing it again in Brisbane in a couple of months time but I'll have to check the details. That piece Kattrin's Drum is the first of a trilogy of pieces. Each piece is for solo instrumentalist and quadraphonic sound where the quadraphonics are pre-programmed cues (60 odd of them) and the performer triggers each cue along with the virtuosic live content. The second piece is for bass clarinet and quadraphonics and is written but not yet performed and the third one is for trombone and I haven't written that one yet. So current work has been your piece, then the QTC production coming up soon and then back to the Kattrin trilogy. I find that composing for me is a weird cyclical process where I'm always looking to try something that I haven't done before in a kind of struggle to avoid being trapped in comfortable territory but at the same time always being willing to go back and look at previous thinking to see if with the passage of time it has gained some potential for renewal. For example, my first work with quadraphonics was back in 1991 and although I've often used surround effects in theatre music Kattrin is the first time that I've returned to it in a concert piece. But there's no overall agenda. For example, I've written for large orchestra, although not recently, but may well do so again. I hadn't considered a chamber piece for flute, clarinet, percussion and piano, but I've enjoyed writing one now.

AW: What are the five best things about living Brisbane?

Alan: Can we make that Brisbane? Okay, and in no particular order of preference; 1. Perfect winter days. 2. Great cinema prgrams equal to big cities anywhere. 3. The view of the city centre at dusk seen from a CityCat (breathtakingly beautiful). 4. Currently a really switched on state theatre company. 5. And course, the best new music ensemble in Australia.

New Territory, New Possibilities: an interview with Eric Wubbels

eric-wubbles_wet-inkTaking some time out from rehearsing 'Shivering, Confined, Expiring' (7:30pm Friday April 10th at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts), flautist Jodie Rottle chats to young American composer Eric Wubbles. Jodie Rottle: Kupka's Piano turns three in 2015. Whilst having two composers affiliated  with our group ('in residence' per se), the performing musicians don't write ourselves. What have been the keys to success for Wet Ink Ensemble? In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of working with composer/performers? 

Eric Wubbels: I think one of the things that has drawn people to Wet Ink is the fact that the music that we make has a clear and distinctive style. I think it also helps that that style is an assimilation of an extremely wide-ranging set of influences and enthusiasms, that it has a strong sense of place (rooted in New York), and that it tries to synthesise and incorporate elements from aesthetics that until recently were seen as antagonistic to each other. We're trying to make strong aesthetic statements that are also non-dogmatic, that open up new territory and new possibilities, that invite people in without pandering to them in any way.

Working with a group of composer/performers over an extended period has simply been the easiest way for us to solve a lot of the problems and frustrations that we had had in the past (both as composers and performers). Playing pieces you don't want to play or that are poorly written (the alienated labor of the freelance musician); woefully inadequate rehearsal periods and no subsequent performance beyond the first; lack of trust between composer/performers; inability to take risks and to experiment, refine, and revise... We just don't think these things should be normal, and certainly not the accepted state of affairs in new music. It's not in any other kind of music you listen to.

Having a company of peers and collaborators (just starting from that relationship...!) and growing and developing something personal and meaningful with them over the course of years... It just takes all of those problems I described earlier and inverts them, instantly. Which is not to make it sound easy, of course it's a long process, and we've been very lucky in a lot of ways. But I think we're pretty sold on the model, and it's something I would wish for everyone.

JR: We are looking forward to performing your work 'Shiverer' this season. Having recently given the Australian Premiere performance in a concert in Sydney with Ensemble Offspring and Aventa Ensemble, we're also featuring it in our upcoming concert 'Shivering, Confined, Expiring' at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts on April 10th and again in the QSOCurrent Festival on May 16th at the State Library of Queensland. Can you tell us about your inspiration for this piece or anything about the compositional processes? 

EW: It's one of the first pieces in which I consciously took unison as the compositional material. The parts are not tremendously difficult to play individually, but when combined into very precise hocket, heterophony, or unison there's suddenly a negotiation that has to take place between the two players that I find very interesting. They really have to reach a state of group concentrated awareness, listening carefully to one another and making decisions in the moment as a kind of joint-mind. And if there's any disagreement, in most parts of the piece it's immediately audible. It's quite challenging.

The engine of the piece's development is repetition, but instead of mechanical or literal repetition it's a kind of organic, spiralling structure unfurling over the course of the whole form.

JR: What are you listening to now? Do you have any suggestions as to what you think should be on our new music radar? Aside from Wet Ink Ensemble, of course! 

EW: I'm listening to the new Kendrick Lamar album a lot. Don't love all of it, but some of it's terrific and some of it is breathtaking.

Also been discovering Dmitri Kourliandski's music, which is all over the map aesthetically and yet always compelling and well-made.

Here's a shortlist of other young composers whose work I admire and would love to see more widely known and played: Rick Burkhardt, Katie Young, Evan Johnson, Bryn Harrison, Alexandre Lunsqui, Cat Lamb, Petr Bakla, Chris Mercer, Andrew Greenwald, Chiyoko Szlavnics, Yoshiaki Onishi and Andrew McIntosh.