Category Archives: News

Partial Durations is a Matthew Lorenzon/RealTime joint project.

Richard Toop (1945–2017)

The musicologist Richard Toop passed away in Sydney on 19 June 2017. Born in 1945 in Chichester, England, his desire to study contemporary music at the postgraduate level (then a radical proposition) soon gave way to complete immersion in the topic as Stockhausen’s teaching assistant at the Köln Musikhochschule, 1973–74. In 1975 he moved to Sydney to lecture at the New South Wales Conservatorium (now the Sydney Conservatorium), where he is remembered by generations of students as an inspiring and generous teacher. Abstract and impersonal questions about some giant of the 1970s were inevitably answered in the first person with pearls of detailed musical insight. Not that he limited himself to study of the twentieth century, his expertise reaching back to renaissance repertoire.

Once in Australia, his engagement with international movements in contemporary music hardly ceased and he is widely (though incorrectly, as he was the first to admit) credited with coining the term “New Complexity”. His books and articles, including a series of lectures from the Stockhausen Courses in Kürten from 2002, testify to a depth of culture that lifts music off the page and transposes it into a living sphere of ideas. He will be sorely missed.

In 2011 I invited Richard as the keynote speaker of the student colloquium “Music and Time” at the ANU School of Music (25 November). His talk, “Judging The Quick and the Dead (and analysing them too) was a wide-ranging reflection upon his career and I feel it is appropriate to share it at this time. I apologise for the poor quality of the video, though it does improve in the first couple of minutes. If anyone objects to me sharing this, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

2016BIFEM Music Writers announced

A warm welcome to the 2016 BIFEM Music Writers Workshop team! These five writers will work closely with the mentors Keith Gallasch, Virginia Baxter, and Matthew Lorenzon to  bring you fresh and informed coverage of Australia’s most intensive weekend of new music.

Claudine Michael

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Claudine has been making sounds since the age of three. Today, she is a recognised pipe organist and soundscapist with a passion for blending electronic and acoustic elements to create evocative soundscapes. Spanning the jazz, electronica, classical and world music genres, Claudine brings films, theatre and interactive media to life with audio compositions.
She is resident noise maker at doe and doe, a multi-disciplinary creative studio based in Sydney, Australia, solo produces under the moniker Clypso and is one half of electro-pop duo, colourspacecolour,
Claudine also teaches keyboard studies, music theory and programming.

Rebecca Scully

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Rebecca is a young classical musician active in composition, programme curation, and social justice, and by evening freelances orchestrally on violin, viola, cello and bass. Rebecca has performed with Arcko Symphonic, Forest Collective and Victoria Opera; has appeared as guest performer with ANAM, Melbourne Composers’ League, and as guest soloist with the Monash Academy Orchestra; and has toured China, USA and Australia with various ensembles. Earlier this year she was shortlisted for Melbourne Theatre Company’s ‘Women in Theatre’ (Sound Design and Composition). She holds a Professional Performance Certificate from Penn State where she studied under Juilliard’s Rob Nairn on a university scholarship, and this year has been engaged as tutor for The University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and first-year orchestra. Rebecca runs a music studio which provides free instruments and tuition to refugee adults and children, and conducts for The Cybec Foundation’s Laverton string orchestral training program, ‘Crashendo’. She is passionate about bringing both historical and contemporary female composers’ string quartet repertoire into greater public awareness with her close friends/colleagues of The Kith Quartet.

Alex Taylor

Alex Taylor is one of New Zealand’s leading young composers, as well as a multi-instrumentalist, poet, critic, lecturer, conductor and impresario. He writes about music for the Pantograph Punch, Radio New Zealand, his own blog The Listener, and regularly gives pre-concert talks for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Areas of critical interest include the music of New Zealand composers, particularly the late Anthony Watson; the role of contemporary opera; and the use of microtones and extended tonalities. Alex teaches composition and orchestration at the University of Auckland, and he is currently writing an opera based on David Herkt’s The Last Delirium of Arthur Rimbaud.

Madeline Roycroft

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Melbourne based oboist and writer Madeline Roycroft holds a Bachelor of Music (Hons) and Diploma of Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne. She recently completed her dissertation on the Reception of Shostakovich in France, which draws upon archival research from the National Library of France and the International Association for Shostakovich Studies in Paris. Madeline is a woodwind tutor who performs regularly in the Melbourne music scene. She also contributes interviews, listicles and live music reviews for online publication CutCommon.

Zoe Barker

Zoe Barker holds an honours degree in musicology from the University of Melbourne, graduating in 2015. With a particular interest in contemporary music, her research focussed on tools for the analysis of electroacoustic music. Zoe currently programs and hosts Australian Sounds on 3MBS Fine Music, which features contemporary Australian music and regularly includes interviews with leading and emerging composers. She is also a cellist who teaches and performs in Melbourne.

What to look out for in 2016

With programs taking shape around Australia, here are some gigs to keep an eye out for in 2016.

Elision

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Elision performing the world-line cycle of Richard Barrett at Storey Hall, RMIT. Vicki Jones Photography.

Australia’s prodigal new music ensemble Elision will be in the country to celebrate their 30th anniversary. An exhibition dedicated to the ensemble at the RMIT Art Gallery in Melbourne, September 9-22 October, will feature concerts, talks, and film. Throughout the year audiences can expect to hear Elision perform some of the most innovative and challenging contemporary music at the Metropolis New Music Festival, the Melbourne Recital Centre, ANAM, and beyond. The season features world premieres by Liza Lim, Ann Cleare, Brian Ferneyhough, Aaron Cassidy, Richard Barrett, Matthew Sergeant, Jeroen Speak, and Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf.

Chamber Made Opera

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Permission to Speak. Photo by Daisy Noyes.

This year two new works emerge butterfly-like from their long development-coccoons in 2016.  If you missed the audacious opening of Chamber Made Opera’s 2016 season Another Other by Erkki Veltheim and collaborators, be sure to catch Permission to Speak later in the year. This interview-based work brings together performance auteur Tamara Saulwick with some of Melbourne’s favourite contemporary musicians including the composer Kate Neal (of recent Semaphore fame), the always-scintillating sound design of Jethro Woodward (Minotaur Trilogy and a million other things), and the choral harmonies of Gian Slater (Invenio) and friends.

Decibel

Perth’s resident new music ensemble Decibel are poised to present a series of concerts based around the French electro-acoustic pioneer Eliane Radigue. They’ll be premiering a commission in the WAAPA Main Auditorium at 7:30pm on 23 March, then teaming up with the clarinetist and composer Carol Robinson as part of Radigue’s OCCAM OCEAN series.

Forest Collective

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Evan Lawson conducting during the Forest Collective Launch at the Abbotsford Convent. Photo by Matthew Lorenzon

Forest Collective recently launched their season with performances by featured artists at the Abbotsford Convent. It’s just as well they started early, as they have nine epic programs to get through. The launch gave audience members a taste of what is to come, including medieval polyphony-meets-Benjamin Britten, a concert by Forest’s guest ensemble the Allotropy String Quartet, and Kate Bright singing Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Of the nine concerts I’m particularly excited about three later in the year: Forest will team up with the University of Melbourne’s New Music Studio to perform Grisey’s final work, Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil on 17 September. Pierrot Lunaire follows at St. Stephen’s Church in Richmond from 17–19 November. The final concert of the season at the Abbotsford Convent features rarely-heard works written during the time of the Nazi regime, including music by Strauss, Orff, Eisler, Weill, Schreker, Goldschmidt, Ullman, Dutilleux, and Messiaen. From censorship to libertinage, Forest’s multimedia Metropolis concert “Sensuality in the City” will feature sculptures by Melbourne-based artist Jake Preval and the Australian premiere of Philip Venebles’ “F*** Forever.”

Ensemble Offspring

Ensemble Offspring are promising a collaborative 2016 season, beginning with Exit Ceremonies, a first time collaboration with the Australian Art Orchestra involving new works for pipe organ. Adelaide residents can enjoy Ensemble Offspring’s collaboration with the early music ensemble Ironwood in the Adelaide Hills. The ensemble will also visit the Four Winds Festival and the Peninsula Music Festival to perform Philip Glass’s epic Music with Changing Parts with fLing Physical Theatre. Ensemble Offspring continue to support young artists through their Hatched Academy, which will culminate in a weekend long mini-festival entitled Kontiki Racket.

BIFEM

The Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music is characteristically tight-lipped about their 2016 program, which will be announced in May. All we know is that it will be the biggest BIFEM yet, with over 90 musicians engaged for the September weekend.

Metropolis New Music Festival

I know you can’t wait until September to immerse yourself in new music, so thankfully the Metropolis New Music Festival will fill the Melbourne Recital Centre with its quality and catholic program of contemporary music in May. This year’s theme is “Music of the City,” embracing Byzantine-contemporary mashups, algorithmic sonification of Melbourne’s skyline, turntabling–meets-experimental jazz, and hazy landscape-rock. The festival’s Salon series will feature Australia’s most exciting contemporary music ensembles including Plexus, Syzygy Ensemble, Forest Collective, Press Play, and a not-to-be-missed concert by Elision in their thirtieth year. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concerts provide a rare opportunity to hear contemporary music writ large and will feature my personal highlight: pieces by emerging composers from the Cybec 21st Century Australian Composer Program. A new series of concerts in the foyer will open the festival to the city and there will also be a ton of Messiaen dotted throughout the program, which is always nice.

Partial Durations to live-blog Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music

Mauricio Carrasco in Arturo Corrales's BUG. Photo by Gonzalo Garzo Fernández
Mauricio Carrasco in Arturo Corrales’s BUG. Photo by Gonzalo Garzo Fernández

I am very proud to announce that Partial Durations will be covering the entirety of the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music from 5–7 September. Intense and focused, the festival promises to be not just a concert series, but a point of convergence for some of Australia and the world’s finest musical minds. I look forward to seeing you all pedaling around in Mauricio Kagel’s Eine Brise for 111 bicycles, sitting in on rehearsals with the Argonaut Ensemble, catching a rare performance of Stockhausen’s Sirius or milling around installations by Julian Day and Dale Gorfinkel. There are performances by Geneva’s Ensemble Vortex and the Argonaut Ensemble under the baton of Maxime Pascal. Some local favourites will also appear including Golden Fur, Judith Hamann, Zubin Kanga and Anna McMichael. There will be a formidable series of talks and lectures to get you thinking, including legendary musicologist Richard Toop, flautist Eric Lamb and clarinettist Ashley Smith, along with panel discussions on “Duration and Durability” and technology in composition.

For those interested in music writing, I will also provide the festival’s first “fringe event,” a short talk about cultural economy and artistic value in Australian music journalism (but which is just called, given my propensity for naming things (I must never have a child) “The How and Why of Music Writing”). This will take place at the Bendigo library at 10am, Saturday 6 December, before the Wired colloquium. I particularly hope to see you there for some funny stories and (I’ll do my best) penetrating insights.

Partial Durations is a RealTime/Matthew Lorenzon joint project.

Corrected: Art Music Award finalists announced

The annual Art Music Award finalists have been announced at a gala event in Melbourne. We can hope to see such contemporary music luminaries as Mary Finsterer, Elliott Gyger, Matthew Hindson, Andrew Ford, Brett Dean and Cat Hope amongst the final recipients. It is great to see some younger artists nominated as well, including Eve Klein, Tilman Robinson and Annie Hsieh. Speak Percussion and Ensemble Offspring have also been nominated.

I am particularly glad to see Gyger’s Inferno nominated, which will be performed by Michael Kieran Harvey in Melbourne next month. Congratulations to all and good luck!

 

This page has been corrected. A previous version claimed that the winners of the Art Music Awards had been announced. It is of course only the finalists who have been announced.

Partial Durations is a RealTime/Matthew Lorenzon joint project.

The Montreal-New York Quartet Tour Australia

Tim Brady, photo courtesy of the artist
Tim Brady, courtesy of artist

The Montreal-New York Quartet will bring four of the finest improvisers and experimental musicians from Canada and the United States to Australia in April. I caught up with guitarist Tim Brady via Skype to talk about his super-group ensemble, commissioning works from antipodean composers and Julian Assange’s phrasing.

You’ve visited Australia periodically since 1990, but this time you’re bringing a bunch of people with you. Can you tell us about the ensemble?

Well, three is hardly a bunch, but yes, I am. From Montreal I’m bringing viola player Pemi Paull and bass-clarinettist Lori Freedman, whom I’ve worked with for about ten years. They are amazing players; they’re considered some of the best players on their instruments in Canada. Both have classical backgrounds and Lori is also an incredible improviser. Tom Buckner has been one of the mainstays of the New York experimental scene for about 25 years. He’s worked a lot with an American experimental composer called Robert Ashley and he’s also a great improviser. He has this great range: he can do lieder, he can do improvisation, experimental, extended vocal techniques. This whole project was initiated by Tom and his production company. We picked the musicians more on who we thought would be interesting to work with. The instrumentation is quite wonderful but quite exotic: Baritone voice, electric guitar, viola and bass clarinet.

So what have you found to play?

Pemi Paull, courtesy of artist
Pemi Paull, courtesy of artist

There’s a lot of interesting new music in Australia. We’ve commissioned new pieces by two Australian composers who we thought had a lot to say. They’re very different pieces. One is a text-based piece with a bit of improvisation, the other is more of a lieder, chamber music setting. Tom has been working with the New Zealand composer Annea Lockwood, who has been living in New York for a long time and who has done a lot of work in Australia (though I am well aware that Australia is not New Zealand and vice versa!).

I’ve got a couple of works in there, then we’ll be playing a piece by John Cage and Christian Wolf for two reasons: One is that Tom has a strong connection with the American experimental movement. He’s been doing that for 35–40 years. The other is that because our instrumentation is so peculiar there’s no off-the-rack music, so we’ve worked with open and graphic scores. Also, because we’re all quite comfortable with improvisation and active, spontaneous music-making.

How have the experimental and improvised music scenes changed over the past 15 or so years, since you were last performing here? What are you bringing that you couldn’t have back then?

Lori Lockwood, courtesy of artist
Lori Freedman, courtesy of artist

I don’t mean to sound blasé, but I’m not sure if music can sound remarkably different anymore. Nowadays, as you know, any sound is permitted. It is impossible to shock people with sound, apart from with the simplistic party trick of playing too fucking loud. That’s just painful and we don’t plan to do that. For me, two things are interesting: finding artists who have developed their own voice. It’s difficult to say where someone’s music stands in the flow of time these days, we’re too close to it, but at least people have something personal to say. The other thing is playing music, such as my own, which is very precisely notated, next to the Cage and the Wolf stuff, which is very imprecisely notated. The Australian music sits a little bit between them. The most interesting thing about this concert to me is that the people listening actually won’t care. If it’s a good performance, if it’s a great piece, whether it’s precisely or imprecisely notated won’t matter. We’re getting past the questions of “how is the music written down?” and more to “what is the music trying to say? What is it trying to portray on stage and give to the audience?”

And one of the pieces contains quotations from Julian Assange, is that right?

Tom Buckner, courtesy of the artist
Tom Buckner, courtesy of the artist

That’s the Griswold. That was Tom Buckner’s team’s idea. They thought it would be interesting for two reasons: One is that Julian Assange is Australian, the other is that he is an interesting and controversial figure at the moment. They asked me if I wanted to do it and, while I do find Julian Assange a very interesting figure and much of what he has written is very interesting, when I was reading these texts of his I didn’t hear any music. I have a very simple rule for when I set a text to music: I have to read the text and almost instantaneously hear some sort of music to go along with it. It may not be the final piece, but it has to create a sense of musical dialogue right away. The Assange texts were great, but I heard no music in them. I was very pleased that Erik could find some texts to make a piece. The texts are quite deconstructed, though you can still sometimes understand the sense. He also uses them as the basis for improvisations. Assange is talking about very serious issues and it boils down to the phrase structure. He writes long sentences with lots of subordinate clauses, which is entirely appropriate to the kind of thing he is trying to communicate. But when you’re trying to set text to music, subordinate clauses are a nightmare because you can’t sing them. So Erik came up with a way of cutting it up that sidesteps the whole problem in a very elegant manner.

The Montreal-New York Quartet will be touring Australia in April, including:

April 5, Presented by Tura New Music, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Perth, WA (concert will be broadcast by ABC Classic FM)
April 7–9, Elder Conservatorium of Music, Adelaide, SA
April 10, Monash University (Classes and workshops), Performing Arts Center, Clayton, VIC
April 14, The University of Melbourne, Melba Hall, Melbourne, VIC
April 16, Queensland Conservatorium, Clocked Out Series, Ian Hangar Recital Hall, Brisbane, QLD
April 17, University of Western Sydney, Playhouse Theatre, Sydney, NSW

 

Partial Durations is a Matthew Lorenzon/RealTime joint project.

Great results for Australian contemporary classical in the latest OzCo round

We ought to have a lot to hear from Australian composers over the next year with Australia Council for the Arts grants being awarded to Stephen Adams, David Chisholm, Melody Eotovos, Alex Pozniak, Katy Abbott, Luke Jaaniste, Aristea Mellos, Ross Edwards, and Elena Kats Chernin.

The Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music and the Adelaide Contemporary Music Festival have also been awarded funding, providing the rest of us with vital windows into the broader contemporary music world.

After a series of incredibly well-researched surveys of global contemporary music culture, the emerging ensemble Kupka’s Piano will present their new program “il faut être” at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts and we will also hear from electroacoustic warhorses David Chesworth and Sonia Leber.

More details here, here and here.

Congratulations to all!

Concert guide: 11–17 December

A curated list of upcoming concerts. See also the Australian Music Centre concert calendar and the New Music Network concert series.

Wednesday 11 December: Kynan Tan‘s installation Perspectives [macro] continues at Free Range Gallery, Perth. Tan uses self-constructed computer programs to develop audio-visual material derived from data sets, archived footage, computer-generated imagery and synthesised sound. Installation continues until 14 December.

Friday 13 December. Kim Tan, Lizzy Welsh, Alexander Garsden and Peter de Jager perform Oscillations, their first concert collaborating on contemporary works for baroque instruments. Northcote Uniting Church, Vic, 7:30pm.

Saturday 14 December: Speak Percussion’s artistic director Eugene Ughetti performs a concert of solo works by Australian composers Liza Lim, Anthony Pateras, James Rushford, Thomas Meadowcroft and Alex Garsden at the Melbourne Recital Centre Salon, 6pm.

Monday 16 December: The newly-formed contemporary classical music and performance ensemble Cathexis (a bit of a super-group featuring Peter de Jager, Matthias Schack-Arnott, Callum G’Froerer, Lina Andonovska and Renae Shadler) perform works by Liza Lim, James Rushford and Australian premières of works by Cecilia Arditto and Stephen Feigenbaum. Fortyfive Downstairs, Melbourne, Vic, 8pm.

 

Partial Durations is a Matthew Lorenzon/RealTime joint project.

Concert guide: 4–10 December

A curated list of upcoming concerts. See also the Australian Music Centre concert calendar and the New Music Network concert series.

Wednesday 4 December. Margaret Cameron‘s Opera for a Small Mammal plays at La Mama, Carlton, Vic, at 6:30pm. I shall just reproduce the fine summary below:

Scraps of The Faerie Queen, Henry Purcell’s 1692 operatic adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, resound. Regina Josefine del Mouse lives in the theatre, in the castles and forests of dramatic literature. She is the Mouse Queen. Her tail glints with thieveries from philosophy, Franz Kafka, Lewis Carroll, Beat Poet Michael McClure, Gertrude Stein and other scholarly bits and pieces. Her dominion is the lowercase letters of art (not the uppercase citadel of Art) and Her audience is the community of Mouse People who live in the dark behind the scenes. With an Elizabethan extravagance and classical economy, depending upon the musical and rhetorical powers of poetry, huffing and puffing theatre-dust from the questions of self and Art, She issues a decree on the artistic nature of Matter.

The Song Company perform Christmas songs by Ross Edwards and Christopher Willcock at the Melbourne Recital Centre, 6pm.

Sound artist Kynan Tan‘s installation Perspectives [macro] continues at Free Range Gallery, Perth. Tan uses self-constructed computer programs to develop audio-visual material derived from data sets, archived footage, computer-generated imagery and synthesised sound. In this installation Tan explores the concept of a massive network of singular points as viewed from a singular perspective. The idea that constantly and unendingly, each individual within any given network or system is at once exerting and receiving a gravitational force in space-time on each other point within the system. Continues until 14 December.

Thursday 5 December. Forest Collective perform Evan Lawson’s second opera Calypso at the Rosina Auditorium, Abbotsford Convent, Vic, from 7:30pm. Performances also on Friday 6 December at 7:30pm and Saturday 7 December at 5pm and 8:30pm.

Warren Burt, Stelarc and Paul Doornbusch participate in a panel discussion on “Tone Scientists: Sound art and cutting-edge science” at West Space Gallery, Vic, at 7:30pm as part of the More Talk, Less Action series curated by Greg Wadley.

Friday 6 November. Marcus Whale curates a night of pop-performance art and experimental sound works at Firstdraft Depot, NSW, from 7pm. Entry fee of $5 comes with a free sausage.

Saturday 7 December. Miriam Gordon-Stewart performs a programme of early twentieth-century repertoire at Scots Church, Melbourne, at 7pm. With recitations from the journal of her grandmother Eileen Robbins by Susan Bullock.

The Grevillea Ensemble perform a new song cycle based on poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley by Katia Beaugeais at The Flute Tree, Leichhardt, NSW, from 3pm. Composer’s talk at 2:30pm.

The musics of Peter Sculthorpe, Brenton Broadstock, Ross Edwards, Paul Grabowsky, Iain Grandage, Stuart Greenbaum, Maria Grenfell, Matthew Hindson, Elena Kats-Chernin, Graeme Koehne, Paul Stanhope and Nigel Westlake have found their rightful place in a recording designed to lull children to sleep. Hear the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra launch the remarkable recording for the Hush Music Foundation at the Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, 7:30pm.

 

Partial Durations is a Matthew Lorenzon/RealTime joint project.