I have very recently completed a new work for the outstanding Australian ensemble, Southern Cross Soloists, featuring Jack Liebeck (pictured below). The piece is entitled “Central Australian Song”, and is based upon issues of nuclear testing in Australia. (Note: this title is not up to my usual standard – suggestions welcomed.)
If you are in Sydney, you can catch the concert on 10 October, 8pm, at the Independent Theatre in North Sydney.
Two works for violin and piano have recently been completed.
The first of these is the Violin Concertino: Summer Stories. This work was commissioned by Michael Patterson and Ars Musica Australis. Mike Patterson particularly wanted a work in which the solo violin part was not too difficult – that is, it would be playable by violinists of standard between Grades 7 and A.Mus.A. AMEB levels. The work is subtitled “Summer Stories” because each of its three movements relates in some way to an aspect of summer.
Two new compositions have recently been completed, both of which were commissioned by Ars Musica Australis.
The first new piece is entitled The Metallic Violin, and uses as its inspiration the manic, wild and over-the-top electric guitar solos commonly found in varieties of heavy metal music. Also I am making reference to the title of John Corigliano’s work The Red Violin, though in a very contrasting way! The Metallic Violin is for solo violin and lasts for about 8 minutes or so.
The second new piece is quite different to what would be considered my ‘typical’ music. It is called Funeral Windows and is written for solo basset clarinet, a larger clarinet that extends the range of the standard clarinet to a lower pitch. Mozart wrote his clarinet pieces for basset clarinet, and an increasing number of contemporary composers are now writing for it too. In Funeral Windows I imagine the thoughts, experiences and emotions of a passenger in a funeral car on their way between the funeral and burial services. It was composed for David Rowden, the amazing Sydney-based clarinettist.
This year’s Australian Festival of Chamber Music, held in Townsville in early July, looks to be an absolute cracker. Co-artistic director Chris Latham has organized a stellar cast of fantastic musicians – both national and international – playing a wonderful selection of music. I was lucky enough to attend last year’s festival and being right near the Great Barrier Reef, in the tropics in the middle of winter is a marvellous experience. Temperatures are near 27 degrees and it’s just like summer in Sydney. Sure beats the 13 degrees we’ve had recently.
As part of this festival, I have a new arrangement from the second movement of A Symphony of Modern Objects, “Spirit Song”. This new chamber version is scored for shakuhachi, violin, cello, piano and percussion. Also performed will be the oboe and string quartet version of Rush, played by the inimitable Goldner String Quartet and Diana Doherty, and Technologic, performed by the Fyra Quartet on their western Queensland tour.
Adapted from a work for solo violin, The Metallic Violins uses as its inspiration the manic, wild and over-the-top electric guitar solos commonly found in varieties of heavy metal music. Known as ‘shredding’, the point of such solos is to demonstrate the performer’s virtuosity, especially in playing as fast as possible. There are a number of blistering passages for each of the violinists in this piece and it certainly requires extensive technical facility on the part of the performers.
Further reference to the heavy metal inspiration in this work can be observed through the use of a dark-sounding set of pitches and the use of similar rhythmic figures to those employed by ‘cheese-metal’ bands such as Dream Theater.
This piece is available on a disc entitled “The Metallic Violins”, released by Tall Poppies, featuring violinists Natsuko Yoshimoto and James Cuddeford who gave the work’s premiere at the 2008 Aurora Festival.