The String Quartet Project

Recently, I was selected as one of six composers from around the country to take part in the Flinders Quartet Composers Development Program, with mentorship from composer Stuart Greenbaum. We spent the week work-shopping our pieces, recording them at 3MBS Studio, as well as a live concert performance at the Docklands in Melbourne. I’m very grateful to Zoe, Helen, Nick, Thibaut and Stuart for the opportunity, their insights, experience and willingness to experiment!

My piece is called The String Quartet Project and currently consists of two movements which I will continually add to. If you’re interested in seeing the score, please reach out.

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PROGRAM NOTES

The String Quartet Project is the beginning of a journey that will never be entirely completed. I will continue to add new movements to the piece ad infinitum, or more crudely, until I die. This suite of music will grow and grow, each movement informing the next, a link in the chain. The compositional approach of subsequent movements will be informed by the ensembles who perform it, each string quartet leaving their mark on the work as a whole.


I - The Slow Unfolding of the Self

These are the first marks made for the work. I wanted each note to have gravitas, hence the slow, austere mood. It is almost without pulse and utilises frequent dove-tailing. Harmonically, I've been inspired by the work of the American composer Elliott Carter.

II - Foreign Gravity

The second movement oscillates between soloist and the ensemble in a call and response-like fashion. Instructions to play freely, steady and aggressively are given. It consists of hocket-like sections, all-interval tetrachords and an absence of extended techniques.

post USA thoughts

In January I had the immense privilege to spend just under three weeks in San Francisco where I would travel to Stanford University several times a week to take composition lessons with Mark Applebaum, attend seminars and workshops (Joshua Redman, Cassandra Miller and others) as well as meeting a bunch of the faculty and post-graduate composers. The lessons consisted of lots of talking, sharing and the exploration of ideas. I felt as though Mark was stretching my mind in ways that I didn’t know were possible, with the focus being the creation of a new work to be premiered by The Music Box Project in September. There was such an open, inquisitive and inspiring vibe surrounding everyone I met there, not to mention the quality of work being produced. Wow.

Following this, I spent the next five weeks in New York composing material for an album which was recorded with Marc Hannaford and Satoshi Takeishi at Bunker Studios in Brooklyn. I would spend a few hours a week with Marc talking about the compositions, picking his brain about all things music and he constantly challenged me to take the musical ideas further. ‘Nothing bad ever came from composing too much’. 

We had several gigs booked and only had time for two rehearsals with Satoshi, who is an absolute veteran drummer/percussionist/composer. It turned out that the material was quite difficult and so Satoshi and I managed to fit in an extra bass and drum rehearsal before the gigs. Fortunately, the gigs were a great preparation for hitting the studio a couple days later. We spent a day and a half in the studio and I’m really happy with the what the group achieved in such a small amount of time. It’s getting mixed in April by long term collaborator and friend, Magnus Lindberg in his Stockholm studio.

Marc and Satoshi will be touring Australia in August with Marc’s trio we are looking to launch the new album during that period. I’m really looking forward to sharing and performing it live.

A big thank you to my old friend, artist and filmmaker Osvaldo Budet for taking these photos, and to the Australia Council for the Arts and CreateNSW for making it possible.

Film soundtrack and album

In 2018, I created the soundtrack for the film Beyond The Noise , a film by Andrew Kaineder. It won’t be available to watch until March but I’m very happy to share the soundtrack. It was a really interesting project to be a part of and I look forward to creating more music for film in future.

Composition mentorships in the USA and a new album

I’m really pleased to share that I have been successful in some recent grant rounds with the Australia Council for the Arts and CreateNSW, who are supporting two professional developments opportunities in the USA from January to March.

Firstly, Ill be heading to California to study composition under the mentorship of the wonderful Mark Applebaum at Stanford University, where I’ll be developing a work for The Music Box Project which will be premiered at BIFEM (Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music) in September 2019.

Then I’m off to New York for five weeks to work closely with (and under the guidance of) improvising pianist Marc Hannaford. During this period we will be work-shopping new musical material, performing several gigs and recording an album with myself on bass guitar and compositions, Marc on piano and Satoshi Takeishi on drums and percussion.

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Beyond The Noise - film soundtrack

Over the last few months I created the soundtrack to the 40-minute environmental surf film, Beyond The Noise, directed by Andrew Kaineder. It was a lot of fun working closely with Andrew and I got to record lots of musician friends as part of the process. It will be released in the coming months but in the meantime, here is a short trailer:

a new quartet album

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of hitting the the studio in Melbourne to record a bunch of new pieces I've been working on with some of my favourite Australian musicians: Jamie Oehlers (sax), Ollie McGill (piano) and Dave Beck (drums). The tunes each have a different conceptual framework - often with a focus on the rhythm structures and harmonic ambiguity - from which there is a lot of space for improvisation. This project is new territory for me in terms of composition as a lot of the heavy lifting had to be done conceptually before a note was sounded.

Ollie and I workshopped the tunes in September, had a couple of rehearsals with Dave before the session and Jamie rocked up to the studio without any prior rehearsals and they all killed it! It's currently getting mixed by my friend and long-term collaborator Magnus Lindberg over in Stockholm and Tina Stefanou is making artwork to accompany the album. I'm very fortunate to have support from the Australia Council for the Arts and Arts Initiative.

Still figuring out the release plans but it looks like we'll release it next year and play some shows too.

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from Paris to Aus

Having recently arrived back in Australia after being based in Paris this year, I thought I'd share a few highlights:

  • performing an 11-hour structured improvisation at Salt Musuem in Istanbul, Turkey
  • writing 'The Great Unrest' for Ensemble Nouveau
  • participating in a one week improvisation course with American composer Mark Applebaum in Viitasaari, Finland as part of the Time Of Music festival in July
  • attending Manifeste 2017 at IRCAM in Paris for two weeks in June
  • taking a lesson [and hanging] with Dutch improvising double bassist Wilbert de Joode for an afternoon in whilst in Amsterdam 
  • attending analysis classes with French composer Jean-Luc Herve in Paris (which was also helpful for learning French)
  • making soundtracks to accompany experimental short films made by Tina Stefanou
  • seeing 'Mokumentary of a Contemporary Saviour' by Wim Vanderkeybus in Paris
  • watching Hakon Thelin (double bassist from Oslo) perform in Finland with his trio Poing
  • discovering that the double bass is my soul-mate
  • learning to sail in Croatia
  • alleviating myself of RSI (repetitive stress injury) after suffering for the better part of three years

Now I'll be based in Sydney for a while, doing some studies and working on a bunch of projects including recording an album in October with three of my favourite musicians. 

Upcoming gigs:

  • August 28 - with 'the music box project' and Ashley BathGate from Bang on a Can Allstars
  • September 1 - with NOU and The Twoks.

New chamber work - 'Mount Analogue'

For the last two weeks I had the privilege of writing a piece for 15 astounding musicians from around Australia who came together to tutor students who were attending Australian Youth Orchestra Music Camp in Adelaide. Myself and three other composers had daily mentor-ship with Australian composer Gerard Brophy. I had to write a 10 minute piece and have the score and parts ready for rehearsal within a week, so needless to say it was a pretty hectic! With Max McBride conducting musicians from the SSO, TSO, MSO, Orchestra Victoria, Malmö Opera and a bunch more, we were in great hands. It was premiered at Elder Hall in Adelaide on January 20th.  

11 Years Performance

Tomorrow I'm heading off to Istanbul to prepare for an 11-hour performance that will be taking place on December 22 at Salt Museum in Galata. It's an endurance piece with myself on bass and percussion and Tina Stefanou on vocals.

An interpretation exploring the nature of how intimacy and distance interact, how sound and music act as currencies, and how the medium of exchange between two improvisational actors replicates a long-term relationship.'

Here is some more info:

http://saltonline.org/en/1537/performance-11-years

https://www.facebook.com/events/1465003393513774/