April is the month for journeying

I’m very excited to be visiting the States to work with ICE, the International Contemporary Ensemble who are presenting a concert of my work at the Miller Theatre in New York on April 10th. I did a skype rehearsal a few days ago with ‘cellist Michael Nicolas who will be performing Invisibility. This is a work which Séverine Ballon has very much made her own having performed it about 50 times so it’s very interesting to hear the music being bodied forth by another player. What strikes me is how seismographic this music can be – the whole set up of the ‘cello with the retuned strings and the use of the prepared and the normal bow create conditions for the performer in which their physical presence registers in the music in very immediate ways – a shift in weight, a prioritisation of pressure, speed and a myriad qualities of touch that are judged ‘by ear’ are intimately woven into the musical texture.

Gareth Flowers on trumpet and Ross Karre on percussion will perform Ehwaz (journeying) and ICE as an ensemble of 15 musicians with soprano Tony Arnold (also playing a ‘cello with two bows!!) conducted by Karina Canellakis will perform Mother Tongue. All the pieces in the concert represent very strong turning points for me in terms of finding new paths for exploring ideas related to Indigenous culture, shamanic practices of attention and an emotional terrain around how we access the world through language and articulation.

Speaking of another piece that was very important in my formation as a composer, Garden of Earthly Desire (1988), written when I was 22, will be performed on April 5th by the Six Degrees Ensemble at the Metropolis Festival, Melbourne Recital Centre. This was originally commissioned by the ELISION Ensemble funded by the Music Board of the Australia Council for a music-theatre production with Handspan puppet theatre. It was a bit of a ‘breakthrough’ piece for me in terms of engaging with large-scale structure (it’s a 30 minute work for 11 instruments) and generated a lot of energy for an incredibly fruitful collaboration with ELISION that was to result in several installation projects, 3 operas, the song cycle Mother Tongue as well as many, many solo and chamber music explorations.

Here’s a link to an article/interview Making meaning as you journey by Matthew Lorenzon about Garden as well my work Tongue of the Invisible that appeared in Real Time #119 (Feb-March 2014).

I’m sorry not to be able to attend the Melbourne concert. Here’s a recording made in 1991 by ELISION conducted by Sandro Gorli:

I also feel incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to visit China in the first 4 days of April as a guest of the Yangzhou International Poetry Festival. (I’ll post about this later). On April 15th, I will present a talk on my recent work and compositional thinking entitled ‘Knots and other forms of entanglement’ in the Barwick Colloquium Series at Harvard University.