BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE
Improvisation. Electronic music. Sound installation. Contemporary instrumental works.
These are just a few of the offerings that will sound from three stages in 12 hours at the 2017 Tilde New Music Festival. The ambitious event brings together musicians and composers from across the nation to bring sound art out of the concert hall and into open spaces.
The festival is in its fourth year, and the event will take place on January 21 at Southbank’s Testing Grounds – boasting its biggest program to date. To celebrate, we introduce you to a few of the talented new music composers whose works will be featured in this event.
My piece: Forbidden Languages
The Forbidden Languages suite for solo saxophones is broadly informed by the concept of alien, imaginary, irrational, or ephemeral language. On one level, the short works are written to represent the idea of these ‘languages’, and on another level they are intended to actually be the languages – in a musical form. Each piece’s structural devices, gestural character, and syntax are inspired by a specific symbolic theme, and are intimately linked with the idiosyncratic and mechanical capabilities of the saxophone. The instrument provides endless technical and expressive possibilities for language to manifest; many elements (such as fingering patterns, articulation and inflection, textural layering, harmonic, melodic and rhythmic shapes) are unique and idiosyncratic to each particular work, and even each type of saxophone.
Andrew Ball is a graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium with a Bachelor of Music (First Class Honours). Andrew is currently tenor saxophonist and resident composer with Barega Saxophone Quartet, and performs and tours regularly with nu-wave brass band Bullhorn, His Merry Men, and the Enthusiastic Musicians Orchestra (E.M.O) big band. He has recently completed commissions for ensembles including The Australia Ensemble, Hourglass Ensemble, Collusion, Australian Saxophone Orchestra, and Queensland Youth Orchestras. Internationally, Andrew has premiered compositions in France, Scotland, Italy and Greece. With a uniquely kinetic, intricate and colourful compositional voice, Andrew draws inspiration from an eclectic variety of contemporary classical, avant-garde, improvised, and electronic musics. His compositional approach consistently extends the limits of instruments and performers, and aims to challenge attitudes and ideologies surrounding aspects of context and genre.
Explore more of Andrew’s music in our digital music store.
My piece: A Day in the Life of an Elephant
A Day in the Life of an Elephant is an immersive interaction between the listener, performer, and field recordings from The Elephant Listening Project (ELP) at Cornell University. ELP, founded by Katy Payne after discovering that elephant calls include infrasound, capture these elephants sounds in acoustic recordings to study, help conserve and monitor threats to the endangered African Forest Elephant. I use these audio, video and infrasound clips as a basis for my performances. I find a ‘tonal centre’ closely related to the sounds of the elephants, birds, frogs, for example; as well as using any other features that interest me, including influences of the Indigenous people near the research regions. I layer these compositional fragments to then develop, through improvisation, a conversational interplay with the elephants.
Vicki Hallett, clarinetist, composer, sound artist, educator and music practitioner is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts and The University of Melbourne. She studied with Philip Michel, Dr. Peter Clinch, Pamela Bloom, Robert Schubert, Oscar Ramspek, Nancy Braithwaite and Reinier Hogerhiejde. Vicki has developed a collaborative concept with Cornell University’s Elephant Listening Project, performing with positive peer reviews at the International Sonic Environments conference at Queensland Conservatorium. Vicki has composed, produced and performed in live concerts, solo recordings and videos ranging from sound art, pain-management meditations, lullabies, and the Elephant Listening Project.
My piece: Inharmonic I – VII: Electronics and Live Percussion
My work explores inharmonic percussive sounds created on various instruments, of which the classical guitar is the main instrument. The electronic music is prerecorded and the percussive sounds are improvised as the electronic pieces progress.
Percussive sounds are created on a guitar case, music stand, triangle, woodblock, and claves, including the use of mallets and an ordinary set of drum sticks. The strings of the guitar remain untuned, therefore creating various tones when the guitar is struck. The work explores uncharted emotions, the depth of ordinary sound, and potentially quiet spaces in between. The work is improvisatory in nature, and requires the performer to listen to all sounds internally and externally, in order to place the sound when and where it is needed at a given time.
Hanli Botha is a composer, sound artist, performer, poet, researcher and writer. She is currently a PhD candidate at Western Sydney University – School of Humanities and Communication Arts. She completed her Bachelor of Music in Performance (Classical Guitar) in 2014 and obtained her Honours in 2015. She composes electronic works, by means of improvisation which include voice, noise, sound recordings, and experimental pieces for classical guitar. Hanli’s music background stretches over a period of 29 years, and include performance experience at a number of eisteddfods in South Africa, and in Australia between the years of 2011 and 2014. Composing for guitar and violin, viola, cello, and wind instruments is something she is working towards; as she continues to work with sound experimentation. Hanli has a passion for 20th and 21st Century music, experimental music, music history and theory and, of course, her creative writing endeavours. Hanli’s research interests include sound, silence, new music, experimental music, the biophysiology of music and the neurosciences.
My piece: False Cognate
This piece was commissioned as part of the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund. I applied with the idea that working in a mixed notational medium inherently muddles how we think about repetition and recording in art music, and the piece itself is I guess an ongoing experiment in how people react to differently signposted musical/gestural/notational concepts. It’s been a blast, unassisted fold – the premiering ensemble used it as a “Hail Satan!” moment in a church in Italy; myself and Melanie Walters made a glitchy, weird, saariaho-esque interpretation; when Melanie played it again with jazz guitarist Sam Cagney it was smokey, even bluesy. I can’t wait to hear what The Music Box Project (who performed it at their concert Partial Phase) did with it when I get my hands on the recording.
Dan Thorpe is a performer/composer based in Adelaide. Influenced by everything from queer punk to American experimentalism, Dan’s music has been described as “decimating the boundaries of genre” [CutCommon, 2016]. His broad base of musical experience is reflected in a curious, experimental and genre-defying compositional and performance output linked together by a love of storytelling and sense of irreverence for existing forms. As a composer, his work always has a focus on collaborative, open approaches to composition that stresses the importance of performers’ creative input in musical expression. As a performer, his focus is on contemporary Australian repertoire, work by queer and women composers, and multi-instrumental improvisation.
Explore more of Dan’s music in our digital music store.
For more information about Tilde and to book your tickets to the January 21 events, visit tilde.net.au.