Posts tagged Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts
Kupkacast episode 1: Hannah, Liam and Michael discuss
Ahead of our next performance, Tautologies, Transitions, Translations, at the Judith Wright Centre on October 7, Hannah, Liam, and Michael caught up via Skype to discuss composing, naming pieces, extramusical influences, different approaches to counterpoint, and whatever else came up along the way.

All three will be having a new composition premiered at the coming concert, so we thought we'd try to give a bit of an intro to the thoughts behind each of the pieces.

 

 

We hope you enjoy this Kupkacast pilot – if we get good feedback we might do this more often!

And don't forget to book your tickets and get along to the show!

 

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! 

WET INK, New York, and "Pendulum III": An interview with Alex Mincek

Alex Headshot_0 Performing for the first time in Australia the music of New York based composer Alex Mincek, Kupka musicians Sami Mason and Alex Raineri tackle his saxophone and piano duo Pendulum III in the upcoming concert 'The American Dreamsong: New Music in the USA' - Friday 29 November, 7.30pm, at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. Our Alex chats with composer Alex:  

Alex Raineri: You're a very impressive young composer, could you tell us a little about your musical journey thus far - who have been some significant mentors and how have you come to be based in New York? 

Alex Mincek: I moved to New York from Florida when I was 19 to study saxophone at the Manhattan School of Music. At that time I was mostly participating in various forms of jazz music, but was already well aware of, and inspired by composers like Ives, Cowell, Cage, Schoenberg, Webern, Stravinsky, etc. Though, I had not seriously considered composing myself until I took a course called "composition for non-composition majors". The professor of that class, Giampaolo Broccoli, recognized my intense interest in composition and really convinced me that I should pursue a more serious study of the craft. Since then I have had many wonderful teachers including, Nils Vigeland, Fred Lerdahl and Tristan Murail.

AR: In addition to composition you're also a saxophonist and clarinettist. I was very interested to learn that you are the artistic director of WET INK Ensemble with Kate Soper (who is also receiving an Australian premiere in our upcoming concert!). I would like to hear your thoughts on how being a performer (especially in terms of your collaboration with other composer/performers in your ensemble) affects the way you approach writing music? Does this allow for a more detailed and intimate workshopping process for certain pieces?

AM: The short answer is yes. But more specifically, I often directly draw from my knowledge of my own instruments to compose, which I believe allows me to write more idiomatically for instruments, albeit in novel ways. Additionally, working with my ensemble has allowed for, as you mention, a more detailed and intimate environment for experimenting with sounds.

AR: Tell us a little about the Pendulum pieces, you're written five as far as I can tell. Are they related to each other musically?

AM: I'm working on the 10th and final piece of this series currently. And yes, they are related to one another, insofar as they each are meant to represent various physical, temporal, and spatial phenomena demonstrated by the simple swinging motions of pendulums, along with some of the more complex forces, environments and mechanisms that make a pendulum’s movement continue or dissipate.

AR: Specifically, what were your thoughts behind Pendulum III? I hear some spectralist influences in the piece, perhaps attributed to Grisey, or Murail with whom you studied?

AM: Both of the composers you mention have indeed been very influential to my approach to composing, but I wouldn't say there is too close a connection between their work and Pendulum III, other than the focus on timbre as inseparable from harmony (specifically) and structure (more broadly). For example, the piece does use variously untempered, close tunings that cause novel timbral effects such as psychoacoustic 'beatings' to represent subtle back-and-forth 'motions' between the saxophone and piano, while simultaneously creating unconventional harmonies.

AR: You've received commissions and worked with some eminent ensembles such as the JACK Quartet, Ensemble Linea, Talea Ensemble, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra among many others. What projects are you currently working on - what's next?

AM: I'm currently finishing a large orchestra piece for the Guggenheim Foundation and writing a new work for my own group, WET INK Ensemble. In the near future I will also write a new piece for string quartet and orchestra for the JACK Quartet and the American Composers Orchestra, a new string quartet for MIVOS, and a piece for 2 pianos and 2 percussionists for YARN/WIRE.

AR: Our 2013 concert series has been a peripatetic exploration of music from all around the globe with a focus on the younger generation of composers. We've looked at Asia, Germany, Italy and now we wrap up with music from the USA. As a young composer in the States, would you say that you draw inspiration from your American predecessors or contemporaries?

AM: I would say both. Composers of the past like Ives, Ellington, Cage, Feldman, Coltrane, Braxton and Lucier have been VERY important to me, but so have younger composers like my colleagues in WET INK. Many international composers, past and present (mostly European, I suppose), have been extremely influential for me as well.

KUPKA’S PIANO’s Upcoming May Performances – ‘Giants behind us: German music and its discontents’

Germany concert Kupka's Piano is very excited to announce the repertoire for our May performance entitled ‘Giants behind us: German music and its discontents’Be sure to come along and hear

Peter Clark (b.1991) - In lines, in time I and II (2013) WP Genoël von Lilienstern (b.1979) - The Severed Garden (2009) AP Isabel Mundry (b.1963) – Composition for flute and percussion (1999) Gerald Resch (b.1975) – Splitter (2002) AP Katharina Rosenberger (b.1971) - phragmocone (2006/10) AP Wolfram Schurig (b.1967) – A.R.C.H.E. (2005) AP

7:30pm, May 10, 2013 at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane. Tickets available now.

See you there!

(AP - Australian premiere; WP - world premiere)

Stars, not far off - New songs by Liam Flenady

Wallace_Stevens On Friday night Kupka’s Piano will premiere my new work Stars, not far off - a cycle of six songs, settings of ‘Six significant landscapes’ (1916) by American poet Wallace Stevens.

This excites me, as it represents the first successful vocal composition of my output. Successful in a couple of senses: in the melodiousness of the lines, in the setting of the texts, in the interrelation of the voice and the instruments. It has been a great experience talking through the ideas and expression with Tabatha McFadyen and with the instrumentalists, and hearing the pieces come to life. They are sounding fantastic.

It was not an easy piece to write, and took me two months longer than expected - the poor performers only having received the sixth song less than two weeks ago.

American composer Elliott Carter once said to his student David Schiff that you can’t set Wallace Stevens to music, because his poems lack the requisite drama. Maybe this is why the work was so difficult to compose. It is true Stevens' poems are often metaphysical meditations with no narrative or psychodrama, and these songs are no exception. But one thing that struck me when reading the poems over and over was that, despite their stillness, there was always an implied dramatic movement, albeit a subtle one. In each poem you can always find an internal logic of development in the conceptual framework and imagery as well as a formal and rhythmic logic to the diction and phrasing. It is a matter of bringing this movement and difference to the surface while remaining true to the equal measures of stillness and unity in the poems.

Another aspect that I wanted to explore - in fact, perhaps the main reason for choosing these to set - was the fact that the poems were written by an American poet about China. (Stevens, an 'oriental art' enthusiast, wrote the poems in response to six Chinese landscape paintings, hence the title). It is becoming clear that the economic, political, and cultural relationship Australia has to both China and America (and the tensions that come from this) will be an important part of what it is to be Australian across the first half of the 21st century. These songs therefore try to incorporate signifiers of typical orientalist fantasy - gongs, pentatonics, glissandi, tranquillity, etc - at the same time as trying to have a kind of American busyness, sassiness and worldly nonchalance.

Through this contradiction, I hope the songs to be representative of something properly Australian.

I hope you can come listen to Kupka’s Piano and Tabatha bring these songs into the world on Friday night.

//

Six Significant Landscapes

I An old man sits In the shadow of a pine tree In China. He sees larkspur, Blue and white, At the edge of the shadow, Move in the wind. His beard moves in the wind. The pine tree moves in the wind. Thus water flows Over weeds.

II The night is of the colour Of a woman's arm: Night, the female, Obscure, Fragrant and supple, Conceals herself. A pool shines, Like a bracelet Shaken in a dance.

III I measure myself Against a tall tree. I find that I am much taller, For I reach right up to the sun, With my eye; And I reach to the shore of the sea With my ear. Nevertheless, I dislike The way ants crawl In and out of my shadow.

IV When my dream was near the moon, The white folds of its gown Filled with yellow light. The soles of its feet Grew red. Its hair filled With certain blue crystallizations From stars, Not far off.

V Not all the knives of the lamp-posts, Nor the chisels of the long streets, Nor the mallets of the domes And high towers, Can carve What one star can carve, Shining through the grape-leaves.

VI Rationalists, wearing square hats, Think, in square rooms, Looking at the floor, Looking at the ceiling. They confine themselves To right-angled triangles. If they tried rhomboids, Cones, waving lines, ellipses -- As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon -- Rationalists would wear sombreros.

Teasers for our upcoming Asia concert!

The first concert of our "peripatetic" four-part series at the Judith Wright Centre is rapidly approaching! So where in the world is Kupka's Piano? Asia! Asia email image

Join us on Friday 8 March at 7.30pm in the intimate Music Rehearsal Room at the Judy for a trip across the islands and countries of Asia and hear the play of Eastern and Western influences in composers from Malaysia, Japan, China, Korea, and of course Australia. Tickets are available here.

Wang Lu (pictured) is an exciting young Chinese composer, her music having been played by the likes of Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris. Her quintet From the Distant Plains II explores the sounds of Mongolian mouth harp and throat singing alongside playful Messiaen-esque passages. AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE. Hear some of Wang Lu's music here.

Japan's most celebrated composer of the 20th century, Toru Takemitsu, was himself strongly influenced by French music. Distance de fée for violin and piano expands on the musical language of Debussy and Messiaen, Europeans who were in turn looking eastward for inspiration.

With a minimum of musical material, Korean composer Isang Yun explores the expressive potential of the bass flute in his fourth of five etudes for the flute family. The low and hollow tone of the instrument along with techniques such as vocalisation, fluttertongue and pitch bending are reminiscent of the sounds of the Daegeum, a large bamboo flute with a buzzing membrane.

Young Australian-Taiwanese composer Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh is becoming increasingly recognised within Australia and around the world for her ability to create beautiful and enticing sounds, as well as the numerous cultural resonances that she is able to synthesise. Her piece Towards the Beginning, commissioned for Encounters III at the Queensland Conservatorium in 2010, combines a suppleness of gesture and a light sound palette that sounds at once familiar and unfamiliar. Visit Annie's blog here.

Born in 1955, Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa studied with Isang Yun as well as spending formative years in Berlin. His music draws as much upon the grand traditions of European art music, from Bach to Beethoven and from Nono to Lachenmann, as it does the traditional art musics of Japan, in particular gagaku and ancient court music. Edi, a work for solo clarinet, was composed in 2009 and shows off our clarinettist Macarthur Clough’s virtuosity but also his musical sensibilities.

Unlike many of his fellow graduates from the Central Conservatory of Beijing from the late 70s and early 80s (Tan Dun, Chen Yi, Zhou Long), Guo Wenjing decided to remain in China. While this has meant less fame in the West, Wenjing has gained some notoriety for his bold uncompromising theatricality and his idiosyncratic approach to his Sichuan heritage. Wenjing’s Parade is a scintillating work of coordination between three percussionists producing a myriad of sounds from just six gongs.

Chong Kee Yong is Malaysia’s leading composer. His music is unashamedly experimental and at the same time lyrical. His Chinese and multicultural Malaysian heritage enriches the Western Modernist language that he has mastered. The piano fragment Time Flows demonstrates the composer’s exciting combination of spiritual stillness and modern complexity. AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE. Visit Chong Kee Yong's website here.

Peter Sculthorpe represents a true Australian voice all the more for the fact that he dedicated much of his life to understanding and integrating music from our neighbouring Asian cultures into his own composition. The meditative stillness, use of pentatonic scales, and the eerie whistling in the solo violin piece Alone show how effective this Australian-Asian synthesis can be.

Newly commissioned for this concert, Liam Flenady’s Stars, not far off is a setting for soprano and small ensemble Wallace Stevens’ early cycle of poems Six significant landscapes, itself a response to some pieces of Chinese Landscape painting that the poet saw. The composer writes: “I was interested in the idea of an Australian setting a poem by and American about Chinese paintings. Australia’s recent history and future is in part determined by our shared political, economic and cultural links with both China and America - two global superpowers. The poems themselves, however, were what got me. Brilliant and short, they are almost haikus. Elliott Carter once said that it is impossible to set Stevens to music, since his poetry contains no drama. I think this is untrue, you have to find the subtle drama within the often very still poems, and bring it towards the surface… although not all the way.” WORLD PREMIERE. Visit Liam's blog here.

KUPKA'S PIANO's Upcoming March Performances - ‘A new sun rises: Modernist music in Asia’

Kupka's Piano is very excited to announce the repertoire for our two concerts in March entitled ‘A new sun rises: Modernist music in Asia’. Be sure to come along and hear

Wang Lu's From the Distant Plains II (2010) Australian premiere Guo Wenjing's Parade (2003) Toru Takemitsu's Distance de fée (1951) Isang Yun's Etude IV (1974) Chong Kee Yong's Time Flows (2007) Peter Sculthorpe's Alone (1976) Toshio Hosokawa's Edi (2009) Annie Hui-Hsin Hseih's Towards the Beginning (2010) Liam Flenady's Stars, not far off (2013) World premiere

7:30pm, March 8, 2013 at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane 1pm, March 14, 2013 at the Nickson Room, University of Queensland, Brisbane

Purchase tickets here.

See you there!

Where in the World is Kupka's Piano?

Where in the world is Kupka's Piano? The 2013 peripatetic concert series supported by the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.

In 2013, Kupka’s Piano is bravely going on a series of expeditions. We were getting a bit claustrophobic in the stuffy confines of the established repertoire of modern classical music, so we have decided to break out and set sail for new seas and new shores.

We’ll be seeking out the exciting composers of the younger generations around the world. We’ll be exploring new developments and unheard of musical ideas. We’ll be premiering a bunch of brand new Australian works commissioned entirely for this series.

Each concert will chart a selection of innovative and intriguing works from a different country or region, at the same time linking to Australian works both celebrated and obscure. Firstly we’ll hop from island to island, country to country across Asia and hear the play of Eastern and Western influences in composers from Malaysia, Japan, China and Korea. ‘A new sun rises: Modernist music in Asia’ - Friday, 08 March 2013

Next we’ll skip continents to the Old World, and hunt down the latest developments in Germanic music. No longer the friendly Viennese tunes we’re used to, no longer the clinical serialist powerhouse - what are they up to over there? ‘Giants behind us: German music and its discontents’ - Friday, 10 May 2013

Continuing our Europe sojourn we’ll head to the Renaissance heartland of classical music, Italy, to see what strange and colourful surprises are in store from our fiery Mediterranean innovators. A collaborative concert project with leading European new music group ensemble interface.* ‘To roam with love: Getting lost in new Italian music’ - Friday, 27 September 2013

Finally, we leapfrog over the Atlantic to the New World, getting lost in the buzz and commotion of modern American life. We all know Hollywood, sitcoms, and MTV... but what happens when American culture puts on its serious face? ‘The American dream-song: New music in the USA’ - Friday, 29 November 2013

Keep your eyes on the horizon and look forward to new lines and dots on the musical map!

* This concert is supported by Australia Council for the Arts as part of a JUMP Mentoring project.

Grisey, Boulez, Brisbane is coming!!

The newly formed Kupka’s Piano explores the Paris-Brisbane connection with a concert of modern French masterpieces and new works by emerging Brisbane composers.  Major French composers of the 20th Century Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, and Gerard Grisey each take up and extend the characteristically exquisite French compositional style - albeit in varying ways. From the haunting, divine visions of Messiaen to the tight-knit filigree of Boulez to Grisey’s cosmic proportions, each one has captured a new way of feeling the beauty of sound. These ideas have impacted on young Brisbane composers Liam Flenady, Peter Clark, and Michael Mathieson-Sandars in their own development. Come hear these composers in dialogue through performances of masterworks and premieres by leading musicians of the new generation in Brisbane.

For this concert Kupka's Piano will be joined by guest violinist Graeme Jennings and guest percussionist Cameron Kennedy.

Date: 7.30pm, Friday 5 October 2012 Where: Music Rehearsal Room, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, 420 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane Ticket: Full $20 | Conc $10 Bookings: Phone: (07) 3872 9000 or Online: www.jwcoca.qld.gov.au

Grisey, Boulez, Brisbane is part of New Music Network's 2012 Mini Series.

Programme: Stèle (1995) Gerard Grisey Sketch-fragment VI (Berio-rendering) (2012*) Peter Clark Poèmes pour Mi (1936) Olivier Messiaen Trio “Esprit Rouge” (2012*) Liam Flenady Solo for flute (2012*) Michael Mathieson-Sandars Dèrive 1 (1984) Pierre Boulez

* World Première