As Australia and indeed most of the western world looks forward to 2021 being a year where some sense of normalcy returns I asked MD Pepe Newton if the readers of classikON might find a series of interviews with composers across our country of interest. She agreed it would be a good project so over the next 9 months there will be 12 interview/articles with composers at different stages of their careers and from different locations. Australia’s vastness still leads to some issues of being aware of those in different places and it is a learning experience for me to communicate with colleagues most of whom I have not met and only know their music via recordings and youtube.
2020 was to be a great year for me with numerous performances of my works with in various European countries, my first performance at a music festival in Japan and concerts in different cities in Australia. But the pandemic changed everything and by the end of September last year 32 performances of my works had been cancelled even though there was hope of postponement for a few. But it actually doesn’t work out like that as many music organisations had programmed most of 2021 before the middle of last year. I know that this is a similar story for many people across all our art forms and also in sport.
As I watched my year of plenty basically vaporise I wanted to ask what it was like across Australia for others in the world of composition and their hope for the future.
In the first couple of interviews which will appear shortly on the classikON site I have asked the composers various questions including whether working with particular performers or with other composers was of importance. For me much of my music starts as a conversation with a performer or an ensemble.
I so enjoy the process of having a particular musician in mind when writing and it is best when we can workshop parts of the score.
Currently I am writing a trumpet, trombone and guitar trio for performance at the Melbourne Recital Centre for Joel Brennan, Don Immel and Ken Murray. Joel heard a concert of my music at the Melbourne Recital Centre and the process started from there. Their horn colleague at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Carla Blackwood is another performer who heard recordings of my music and now I am collaborating with her on a chamber work. Other Melbourne musicians who are wonderful to work with include the Australian Chamber Choir, trumpeter Callum G’Froerer, soprano Amelia Jones and many more.
Several musicians have in many ways defined much of my output. ‘Doppler’s Web’ my 2005 Sydney Symphony Orchestra commission for trumpeter Paul Goodchild led to several other orchestral commissions. A major solo for Paul performed at a festival in Sydney 2010 led to invitations to travel to Europe for concerts and festival appearances in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2019.
Another musician who has been part of my world for more 30 years is the Opera Australia clarinetist Richard Rourke. Soon Richard will premiere my ‘Reedy Willow’, a solo written for him late last year. He has performed in the premieres of 15 of my works including several for clarinet and piano and clarinet alone.
With Richard and many other Sydney performance colleagues I have promoted numerous recitals where we bring music from other cities in Australia and from countries in Europe to a Sydney audience. The support I have received in the past led me in late 2020 to promote two Covid compliant recitals on the park in front of my house on the northern beaches of Sydney where we performed works from here and from the younger generation of Albanian composers.
Another question I asked was about whether 2020 led to the composition of small ensemble and solo works as large groups of musicians, and indeed audiences, were not allowed due to health restrictions. I wrote two solo soprano works specifically for performance on youtube plus solos for tuba, bass flute and clarinet.
I so long to write for a largish ensemble soon!
I trust that classikON readers will enjoy the series throughout this year as music again comes to the fore and we can hopefully enjoy large scale music events.