Following up from their highly acclaimed album Across the Top (Tall Poppies) Paul Cutlan’s String Project present this ambitious suite alongside new material featuring special guest Gary Daley on piano. Together the group traverse many styles including 20th century classical music, jazz improvisation and dance rhythms from the Balkans and South America.
We asked Paul a few questions about the development of ideas:
How did Across The Top idea start?
In 2007 I started a composition Masters degree at Sydney Con, with the hope of bringing together my twin passions of classical music and jazz. That same year, I went on a 7 week tour with world music band Mara! for Musica Viva. One of the most striking parts of the journey was through the Pilbara and Kimberley, with their mineral rich red landscapes, vast plains, imposing ancient ranges and lush gorges. The sheer scale of the area and sparseness of human population were background influences to the composition of the suite.
How did it lead to the String Project?
My search for players to perform my music led to my discovery of a wonderful quartet of improvising string players called The Noise. Their versatility led me to employ their creativity as improvisers as well as their consummate skills as classical players. This sense of artistic sharing and collaboration leads to highly engaged and unique performances. I feel blessed to be able to perform with such great players. The other performer is Brett Hirst (double bass) who has a dual role of classical section player and rhythm section.
What ideas are you bringing to the String Project?
For our concerts in Springwood and Paddington this year we will be joined by special guest Gary Daley on piano.
Gary and I share this passion for classical, jazz, world music and a whole melting pot of crossover genres. The second half of the program will be more jazz oriented, using the whole ensemble for its wonderful potential for different textures and colours.
How does it connect to classical and jazz traditions?
Personally I feel Across the Top is written with (twentieth century) classical traditions of form, harmony and motivic development in mind. Bartók, Britten, Stravinsky and Shostakovich were all in the background as I wrote this music. The main difference is that much of it is set against grooves you may find in Afro-Cuban music or Bulgarian dance! The other big departure is that I have deliberately left gaps in the score, where one or more players is expected to interact with the notated music, so there is this grafting of the spontaneous onto the carefully planned!
Find out more and book tickets:
Paul Cutlan String Quartet | Sunday December 4, 3pm | Paddington