Here is a link to the short film ‘A Lightness of Being‘, directed by Ngaio Fitzpatrick (ANU Climate Change Institute). The recorded soundtrack is a reworking of a live soundtrack presented at a Collected Resonances event last year.
The new Andromeda is Coming album is now available for download via the Collected Resonances bandcamp.
This debut album collects a series of free-improvised sections across two field recordings, each capturing Canberra’s intersection of urban and bush environments. The improvisations explore paired sound worlds of unconventional instruments where close microphone recordings reveal sonic details and idiosyncrasies of a unique collection instruments.
This work was recorded in July 2015 in the studios of the Australian National University School of Music. It was mixed over multiple sessions throughout 2016 and 2017.
The album art depicts the interaction and decay of subatomic particles in CERN’s earliest liquid hydrogen bubble chamber in 1960.
Charles Martin (vibraphone, crotales, cymbals, bells, iPad, electronics)
Alexander Hunter (viola da gamba, piano, tam tam, banjo, accordion, broken zither)
Opening the concert will be a repeat performance of my student, Ben Drury‘s, work Water’s Edge (2017) for violin, bass viol, double bass and vibraphone.
The ANU New Music Ensemble’s 2015 recording of my Percussion Ensemble (2010) was featured on this month’s ‘Making Waves’ playlist.
This playlist was curated by my Brisbane-based colleague, Mark Wolf, who wrote:
“Whether gripped by the unfolding drama of a new novel, or immersed in the onscreen action of an epic film, or even stimulated by listening to an engaging piece of music, have you ever enjoyed the experience of an effortless concentration so deep that you lose your sense of time?
“The works featured in this playlist all exhibit a paradoxical timeless quality. Each composition is connected with a temporal process, varying in nature from structured improvisation, ‘mobile moment form’ and slowly evolving spectrums of sound, all supporting temporal independence and ensemble freedom. Temporal manipulation is also observed through the exaggeration, expansion and fragmentation of musical time and events influenced by the natural world and architectural spatial design. These pieces are all in some way temporally ambiguous, successful in challenging the listeners’ perception of chronometric time.”
From the organisation’s ‘about’ page:
Making Waves is a monthly series of curated playlists streaming one hour of quality, new composed music. Founded in 2015, Making Waves shines a spotlight on the music of Australian composers. Fresh playlists are released on the first day of each month and older playlists are made available all year round via our archives; perfect for those with just a few minutes to explore one track or for hours perusing a myriad of diverse sound-worlds.
The project hopes to offer wider exposure to emerging composers, their music and the talented performers who champion it. We also hope to provide an easy-to-access platform for listeners to sit back and enjoy a curated hour of exciting new music or explore our living composers more actively. The playlist themes (and media through which they’re shared eg. Soundcloud, YouTube) will evolve each month depending on the content received directly from our talented composers. We acknowledge that Making Waves has the potential to expand in many directions and into many mediums, such as podcasts. We’re always thinking of the future, so if you have an idea or a wish for us, please feel free to leave us your feedback via the Contact page.
At its core Making Waves is a curated listening space. In 2016 we’ve branched into producing our own content through a special project, Making Conversation, thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign. Making Conversation: Australian Composers Project will be a series of podcasts and vodcasts presenting the human side of living Australian composers, to be made available on popular audiovisual and social platforms in mid-2017.
If you are an Australian composer or a composer with ties to Australia (eg. you have studied here) who would like to have works featured in a playlist, you can find out more about Making Waves and send us your recording links via the Submit page. All submissions welcome! Non-Australian composers are also welcome to apply and will be kept on file for any special edition playlists. For more information you might like to check out our Frequently Asked Questions.
Many thanks to my old student, Jacqui Douglas, for the feature article in HerCanberra.
INNOVATE CANBERRA WILL TELL YOU OUR FUTURE GLOBAL RANKING DEPENDS ON OUR ABILITY TO CULTIVATE A CITY KNOWN FOR INNOVATION, CREATIVITY AND ART.
However, as any young Canberra musician knows, fostering performance culture in a small city is far from easy. A lack of population density and interconnectedness, physically and culturally, renders the development of an arts culture frustratingly elusive. As a musician and a Canberra lover myself, I start taking notes anytime someone cracks that code. Someone like Alec Hunter.
Alec has worn many hats in Canberra. He’s been a mentor to the Experimental Music Studio, an improvisational group that performed more extensively in 2016 than any other student ensemble at the School of Music (SoM). He’s overseen student collaboration with local arts organisations through the artsACT-funded Community Outreach Program, like the student-curated Collected Resonances series at the Ainslie Arts Centre.
Perhaps most significantly, Alec has inspired pre-tertiary students through his leadership of the SoM Open School. Also funded through ArtsACT, the unique pre-tertiary program boasts a staggering 94% student approval rating. And that’s all on top of Alec’s own performance and compositional career.
I did some digging, expecting a complex formula for Alec’s success. Instead, I realised he was just extraordinarily committed to a very simple answer.
“Musicians don’t belong in boxes.”
Ask composer Ellen Falconer, former president of the SoM Music Students Association. She pointed to Alec’s commitment to inclusivity; his development of a “creative and inclusive space for anyone and everyone who wanted it…a collective of people that wanted to create and perform and experiment in a positive environment.” And that wasn’t just ‘musicians’; Alec fostered strategic collaboration with other creatives, connecting players to practitioners of computer science and video art; to the Climate Change Institute and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies; and to “world leaders in experimental music…as professionals rather than mere students.”
Ask jazz player Melissa Keller-Tuberg, who walked away from the Open School inspired to study at the tertiary level – along with over half her cohort.
Not cowed by the rigorous curriculum, Melissa found herself energised and equipped by the inclusive community in the program, and the opportunity to perform for love, not just academic outcomes. A key example: regular performance opportunities Alec coordinated at beloved local jazz institution Smith’s Alternative.
Alec’s vision for creative freedom is equipping our young players to do more than perform. They’re composers, curators, or innovators – or all of the above. And they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in 2050.
This Friday is the premiere of my new collaboration with Ngaio Fitzpatrick (ANU Climate Change Institute) at the Fitters’ Workshop, Kingston, ACT.
We start at 8:30pm, and the event is free and open to the public. It will also be live-streamed via facebook.com/canberraglassworks
Here is a sample of some of the audio for the show (the work is for three-channel tape, diffused through two far front speakers, two near front speakers, two rear speakers).
Thanks to Millie Watson for providing some of the piano samples, Charles Martin for the sound design, and Ben Drury and Craig Greening for tech support.
“Experience the world premiere of The Sixth Mass Extinction – A Dark Entertainment – a stunning glass performance and shattering experience.
Ngaio Fitzpatrick was a recipient of an ANU Vice Chancellors Artists Fellowship (VCCAFS) working in partnership with the ANU Climate Change Institute in 2016. With a background in environmentally sustainable architecture and building informing her arts practice, she is particularly interested in ways in which art can be used to communicate the science of climate change in a Post-Truth world. Her practice is multi-disciplinary and encompasses performance, architectural interventions, site specific installations, video, industrial glass and most recently includes collaborative experimental music interactions in real time.
In collaboration with composer Alexander Hunter and sound designer Charles Martin.”
8.30PM, 27 JANUARY 2017
10 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston, ACT
I was recently asked to write a short article for the ANU Reporter. Due to some disagreements on content, the article will not be published, but I thought I would post it here in case it is of any use.
What is ‘accessible’ music anyway?
During my current collaboration with artist Mike Parr at the NGA I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to pick his brain about form and content, aesthetics, politics, and most recently about ‘accessibility’ and how we as artists interact with the audience. While we’re both concerned with making our work accessible to the public, neither of us is interested in compromising content to suit unpredictable and diverse audience tastes.
If you’re not going to compromise content to answer the accessibility problem, it makes sense (to us anyway) to question the ways in which art is presented to the public.
In addition to the (sometimes extremely prohibitive) cost of tickets and the general cultural barriers put up around opera, ballet, and concert music in general, we in the industry have convinced most of the population that art music is terribly complicated, and if you don’t ‘get it’ you missed the point – and you just might be an uncultured idiot.
The course some of us follow is to try to convince listeners that there might not be anything to get – and if you do possess specialist knowledge, your experience is different, but no more comprehensive or valid than any one else’s. I’ve never heard anyone talk about ‘not getting’ Beyoncé’s music the same way they might talk about Schoenberg.
Those of us making art for the public (and often using their/our funds to do so) should probably ask ourselves: What’s the point of making art if you are going to consistently exclude such a huge part of society from engaging with it?
These are a couple of the ways I’ve found to start breaking down these barriers to the accessibility of art:
- Remove art from the contexts which hold the most historical baggage – Let’s find alternatives to Steinways in concert halls filled with wealthy, well-dressed people. Let’s take our performances out of the gallery and into a car park.
- Engage with the audience on some personal level. Talk before or after a work. Hand out some sort of explanatory notes – an invitation to enjoy interpretive freedom – an assurance that there is no right way to experience the work. If there is nothing to ‘get’, there is no way to feel like you haven’t got it.
With stories about cuts in arts funding coming through practically daily, maybe it’s time we stop relying on the old models of exclusion and start taking matters into our own hands.
This year I have been working with Dr Martyn Jolly (Head of Photography and Media Arts, ANU) on his ARC grant project involving new performances using magic lanterns from the 19th century.
Here is the documentation video from our most recent collaboration ‘Double Drowning Fatality’ at Siteworks in Bundanon, NSW from September, featuring local reciters and 4 members of the ANU Experimental Music Studio.
The live soundtrack consisted of two identical spatialised ensembles of electric guitar and percussion (mainly found objects), and double bass solo.
Documentation video and photos by Alex Hobba