I’m excited to launch a new project this year called ‘Forbidden Languages’! This is a suite of new compositions for solo saxophone, in which I explore/ exploit unique and idiomatic characteristics and techniques on the instrument. The individual pieces are all broadly informed by symbolism and mythology, and the concept of alien, imaginary, irrational, dreamlike, ephemeral “language”.
I’m premiering the set of works at Tilde new music festival in Melbourne, Saturday January 21st. Come along if you’re in town – otherwise keep your eyes peeled for more performances and recordings! Here is a cheeky preview of two of the pieces:
I’ve been hard at work lately on a commission for the Australia Ensemble. Very exciting to work with the performers David Griffiths and Ian Munro, on this substantial clarinet sonata entitled Three Dreams in Pulse. Inspired by the rather abstract concept of our distorted recollection of dreams, the piece appropriates and transforms rhythmic cycles that are idiomatic to a mix of cultures (from delta blues, to traditional Korean and Afro-Cuban patterns). The work was commissioned by Andrew Kennedy, and is dedicated to clarinettist Catherine McCorkill. You can catch the premiere if you’re in Sydney on the 14th May – details on the Australia Ensemble website: http://www.music.unsw.edu.au/australia-ensemble/subscription-concerts/bright-young-things-may-14-2016
Road testing some new concepts for an upcoming solo saxophone composition project! We saxophonists sometimes enjoy sounding ‘not’ like a saxophone. Exploring ways in which idiomatic yet unconventional layering and combination of microstructures, articulation, inflection, etc can relate conceptually to a ‘language’ or syntax (in an abstract sense). Stay tuned – this will be part of a larger suite of pieces!
To keep these updates as sporadic as possible (whoops) – heres a bunch of 2015 news all rolled into one post!
April: new work “View of a Fractured City” was premiered by Andrew Kennedy‘s chamber quintet in Sydney. An absolute monster of a piece, an absolutely captivating performance by absolutely wonderful musicians, and an absolute pleasure to attend the premiere!
June: Barega Sax Quartet have launched our new album “Three Serpents”! It’s been a labour of love and we’ve put a lot of work into this project – from commissioning new local compositions as far back as 2011, polishing, performing, recording and releasing a really fun and energetic set of music. It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with some genuinely world class composers: Michael Bakrnčev, Louise Denson, Tom Green, Andrew Garton (and more wonderful people TBA on Volume 2!) Three of my own works are also featured: “Three Serpents“, “Antikythera Mechanism“, and “Spring and Rust“. You can stream for free below (and purchase if you wish of course.) We’re proud of the result and are excited to share with the world!
July: True to form, I’ve been writing a lot of music with saxophones in it. I have 3(!) brand new works to be premiered at the World Saxophone Congress/ SaxOpen in Strasbourg, France. “Abandon control cast fire” is a frenetic, capricious, adrenaline-charged sax quartet for Barega – a truly terrifying piece to rehearse! “Gravitational Lens” has been commissioned by Diana Tolmie for the Queensland Conservatorium Saxophone Orchestra – groovy, but rhythmically warped, like the more ‘noisy’ version of an MC Escher. And finally, “Shadowed Pathways” is an experiment into a pulsating semi-aleatoric large ensemble approach – written for the newly-formed Australian Saxophone Orchestra.
Super excited. Stay tuned for recordings…
August(ish): Excited to announce that I’ve also just completed a huge commission for the Queensland Youth Orchestras Wind Ensemble, entitled “Wings of Daedalus”. A challenge I’ve immensely enjoyed writing for; I’ve found my inner ‘band nerd’. Colourfully mechanical steampunkish vibes, and a pretty strong theme of ‘flight’ – can’t wait to hear where the ensemble takes it!
My composition ‘Clockwork Ghost’ is featured alongside some very switched-on composers in this month’s Making Waves playlist. This is a brilliant new initiative for new music in Australia, co-curated by Brisbane expat Lisa Cheney – please head over to the page to check out the full set of really (really) awesome works! …Big thanks to Collusion Music for commissioning and recording my work back in 2012!
I’ve almost completed a very exciting commission for sensational Sydney clarinettist Andrew Kennedy. It’s been a fun challenge to write for his quintet of Bass Clarinet/ Violin/ Viola/ Piano 4 hands. The rhythmically fluctuating work explores motivic transformation, foreign textural layering and harmonic permutation. Kennedy writes: “Andrew’s riff-based, unpredictably layered and shifting music demonstrates strength and controlled anarchy and explores the flexibility of sound palettes of all instruments, turning them into exotic voices.”
If you’re in town – do check out the premiere performance as part of a great program – on April 19th at the Utzon Room of the Sydney Opera House.
July saw some of my work performed at two super fun concerts in Brisbane and Sydney – Barega Sax Quartet collaborating with Andrew Kennedy and Annie Larsen (clarinets). The project featured a lot of new Australian music, most written specifically for the group in various combinations of sextets, quartets and duets. Andrew Kennedy, Paul Cutlan, Michael Bakrnčev and myself were featured composers. Check out some recordings below! Time on the scale of a Colossus for sax quartet and 2x bass clarinets, and Stasis, foreboding for soprano sax/clarinet duet were premieres of my own work. I’m very happy with the energy the group put into the performance – hopefully this project will resurface in the not-too-distant future…
My band His Merry Men have recently launched a new EP. One of the tunes (co-written by myself) was recorded and filmed live at Studio 301 Byron Bay – check it out below! I’m very proud of the final result of what’s been a collaborative compositional process after bringing in a ‘lead sheet’ to jam a couple of years back.
Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMtPcBqhna0
Link to EP: http://hismerrymen.bandcamp.com/album/ruthless
Recently I’ve done some collaborative work with Brisbane composer Tom Green (aka Praxis Axis). Tom wrote a piece for the Barega Sax Quartet to premiere at the Australasian Saxophone and Clarinet Conference earlier this year – check out the awesome video. He has a unique style that seamlessly blends elements of glitchy steampunkish electronica with live instrumental performance, a language evident even in his chamber ensemble writing. Head to the Praxis Axis soundcloud and check out the sax/synth piece we recently recorded, available as a free download (hooray)! Looking forward to future projects where we may combine forces once again…
It was fantastic to catch up with some talented musicians, perform, and hear some great new music at the 2013 Australasian Saxophone and Clarinet Conference. A source of great inspiration for my writing throughout the second half of the year. Somewhere amidst the busy three days, six of my recent works were performed (five of which were premieres). Check out this recording of ‘Deus Ex Machinist’ written for Barega Sax:
…’Clockwork Ghost’ was also part of a featured recital by Collusion:
Collusion’s woodwind extraordinaire Diana Tolmie will be performing my new bass clarinet/tape work ‘Shapeshifter’ at the International Clarinet Association Fest 2013 this week in Assisi. A challenging piece – stay tuned for a recording of this later in the year!