THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
SUN 08 SEP 2002, Page 116
**Encore for classical composer**
By DIANA SIMMONDS
When Graeme Murphy’s new dance work, Ellipse, burst upon audiences earlier this year at the Sydney Opera House, people were electrified by the energy, excitement and freshness of the piece. The choreographer himself had already identified the source of his inspiration: the music of 33-year-old Matthew Hindson.
Lucky Sydneysiders now have an extra opportunity to experience Ellipse, this time at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre, and the composer is chuffed.
“I found it astonishing to work with such a creative team,” Hindson says of the Sydney Dance Company experience.
“And Graeme Murphy really is a genius. I’m more an aural than a visual person, so when I saw what he’d done with my music, I couldn’t believe it.”
Classical composers are rare — there are probably more bilbies running around than there are musicians with complex orchestral scores in their heads.
Hindson has a plausible explanation for this.
“It starts from school,” he says. “We’re all taught to write, so we can imagine being a writer of a sort. But when we learn music, we don’t learn composition, we learn to play.”
Hindson was no exception. Growing up in Shellharbour, on the NSW south coast, he learned the violin and viola. But he was blessed with a special teacher.
“My first teacher was Hiroko Primrose,” he says. “She was Japanese and her husband was William Primrose, the Scottish viola virtuoso. After five lessons, she told my parents I didn’t have it in the hands, but I’d probably end up a composer.”
And so he has. Hindson is currently Musica Viva’s featured composer and he was recently signed up by the UK mega-music publisher Faber.
It’s fantastic,” Hindson explains, “because it means they’re pushing my music, so it’s starting to happen overseas for me. And I’m really lucky that I’m able to live off composing at the moment, because of commissions and so on.”
At the same time, he teaches composition two days a week at girls’ school MLC.
“I’ve been very lucky in that I always had inspirational music teachers,” he says. “And it’s changing in schools now, which is how I get to teach, I suppose. When I see what the kids come out with! The standard is extraordinary. It’s really interesting.”
Access to computer technology is something that has changed since Hindson was at school.
“Having computers as a tool means that even if you’re not really aware of theory, you can work out how to do what you want to do. I write on paper first but I use a computer to do things like check structure. A computer can make work so much quicker.”
It also means he is not restricted by the time limits of the usual three or four rehearsals with musicians before a piece is played.
“I always try to remember the people who are playing,” he says of the process.
“It’s fantastic working with an orchestra, because you’re listening to experienced musicians and that really makes a difference. But in that time, you can’t really change things significantly, which is where the computer comes in.”
The music for Ellipse is a collage of Hindson themes.
It is richly romantic as well as in-your-face ferocious, with soaring horns, heart-stopping percussion and complex rhythms and melodies.
“I loved seeing it the first time and I’m probably even more excited that it’s happening in western Sydney now,” he says.
“You know, last week when the Sydney Symphony was doing their evening of Viennese waltzes, the same night in Blacktown there was a concert of seven Australian premieres. It was fantastic.”
Many of that audience will be rushing to Parramatta, too.