Hatched Composer Intensive Showcase: A triumph of contemporary soundscapes

by | Nov 12, 2023 | Ambassador thoughts, Chamber Groups, Composer, Ensembles

Ensemble Offspring | Hatched Composer Showcase

November 11, 2023, The Neilson, ACO Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay, NSW

The Neilson ACO Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay, Sydney, this weekend bore witness to a rare spectacle – a concert featuring not one, but five world premieres. This exceptional event marked the culmination of the 2023 Hatched Composer Intensive, a program that brings together Australia’s emerging and established musical trailblazers for a week of intense mentorship with Ensemble Offspring and renowned international composers.

After a hiatus of five years, plagued by bushfires, Covid shutdowns, and even a nasty bout of gastro, the showcase finally unfolded as planned, to the delight of performers and audience alike. Ensemble Offspring, led by Artistic Director and percussionist Claire Edwardes, presented an extraordinary evening of technically demanding art music compositions, each a testament to the diverse talents nurtured in this unique program.

The program featured works by rising composers Noemi Liba Friedman, Isabella Gerometta, Matthew Laing, Isabella Rahme and Jessica Lindsay Smith, all of whom underwent an intensive week of workshops with Ensemble Offspring and mentoring sessions in the months preceding. The compositions showcased a broad spectrum of influences, from the whimsical inspiration drawn from Pokémon games to the profound exploration of parallel universes and the delicate intersection of the past and present.

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Isabella Gerometta’s Meteor Mash (named after a high-powered Steel-type Pokémon attack) set the tone with a ‘punchy piece that explored the sound of metal amid lush chords, criss-cross gestures, and sci-fi sounds’. The inclusion of bowls filled with real meteoric rock in the percussion added a unique dimension to the performance.

Noemi Liba Friedman’s Tangled Waves delved into the writings of quantum physicist Karen Barad, offering a visually expressive piece that examined the subtle and dynamic behaviour of waves and ripples. The repetitive circular actions of both the bowing on the strings and the percussion on the drum surface beautifully mirrored the expanding and receding ripples of sound as the piece crescendoed and ebbed away.

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Isabella Rahme’s Return took the audience on a journey to an island in the Greek archipelago, exploring the concept of returning to a place never visited before, a place that was home in generations past. The use of unconventional percussion instruments, including rocks and shells from the island and real olive branches slapped on drums, created an evocative atmosphere reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedies and showed the composer’s personal connection to the music.

Jessica Lindsay Smith’s Supernovae explored the intricate parallel between the complexity and fragility of human relationships and the vast universes they inhabit. The five short movements unfolded with a delicate interplay of instruments, building from a soft vacuum into a tapestry of sound as the winds literally breathed air into the work. The final movement I still think about you sometimes, but not always brought a poignant, almost melancholic conclusion.

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Matthew Laing’s Timepiece stood out as an experimental piece, an exploration of his quest to make the sound of one instrument from six. I think he achieved this aim remarkably well. Inspired by avant-garde ideals, Laing’s work invited listeners to engage in a sort of aural exploration, akin to deciphering a visual “magic eye.”

Artistic Director Claire Edwardes aptly described the showcased music as some of the most challenging Ensemble Offspring has ever played. The composers, whom she said, ‘were total sponges’ during the week of workshops, showcased not only their technical prowess but also their openness to feedback and learning.

This showcase is more than a concert; it’s an invaluable educational opportunity for emerging Australian composers. With a decade under its belt, the Hatched Academy is now poised for expansion. Ensemble Offspring aims to raise $50,000 to provide transformative opportunities for Australia’s young composers and musicians in 2024. To support the future of Australian new music, consider donating to the Hatched Academy as part of the group’s Plus1 campaign, where Creative Australia will match your gift. This initiative is a vital lifeline for the continued flourishing of contemporary music Down Under and I encourage you to donate if you can… More info here >>

Photo credit: Jared Underwood

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About The Author

Pepe Newton

Pepe is classikON's Managing Director. She is an avid concert-goer and self confessed choir nerd, regularly performing and touring with no less than 5 different choirs to countries ranging from Poland to Cuba over the last few years. Through her board positions in choirs and her role with classikON she is actively involved in the exciting Australian art music scene, including the promotion and commissioning of new Australian music. Running classikON presents a perfect opportunity for Pepe to pair her love of classical music with her ‘real life’ qualifications in business management and administration.

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