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Metropolis New Music Festival – Syzygy perform ‘Arcs and Sevens’

In April 2014 I was honoured to have a piece premiered at the Metropolis New Music Festival, at the Melbourne Recital Centre.  The brilliant Syzygy Ensemble performed ‘Arcs and Sevens’ (for quintet), as part of their ‘Logic’ program.  It was an absolute treat to work with the group, who fully embraced the piece and gave an electric performance.  Check out this great video of the piece! (filmed and edited by Agatha Yim)

Structure and Self-Analysis

So usually I like to create a grand plan for my pieces, detailing much about the structure, aesthetic, textures, well pretty much the lot.  Except for the actual musical material – the melodies, rhythmic fragments, progressions that will end up in the piece.  It’s kind of like building top down, but having no idea what the materials I’m using are.

Then, more often than not, the more I work on the piece and develop those materials, the structure I spent so much time on gets weaker and weaker.  That is, it has to bend to accommodate what the music needs.  I think if I were to compare those grand plans (often detailed spreadsheets, once with colour coding…) to what the final piece was, there would be a huge difference.

Why does that matter? Because I think I can lose the balance, the pace, the logic of the piece by pretty much ignoring the overall structure somewhat.  Although the pieces still make sense, by trusting my instincts more than anything, perhaps they are missing out on that next level.

So challenge for the next few pieces – build a plan that includes both top and bottom at the same time; plan the larger structure but also work on the musical materials and see how they will fit together.  Then, stick to that structure with great discipline.  Trust the plan as well as my instincts.  And see what the results are…

Reflections on the Cybec experience

Cybec Composers

The four composers in the MSO Cybec Program – Andrew Aronowicz, Lisa Cheney, Kym Dillon, and myself

A couple of weeks ago I had a new piece premiered by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, as part of it’s annual Cybec 21st Century Emerging Composers Program.  This was definitely a huge learning curve for me and I can’t thank the MSO and the Cybec Foundation enough for giving me the chance to do this!


Now, after the excitement, nerves, stress and celebration has passed, feels like a good time to gather some thoughts and reflect on what was one of the longest and most involved projects I have done.

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Start of a blog…

So I’m going to be writing some thoughts, ideas and observations about music here – hope you find it interesting reading. Might also pop in some rants about the latest news or cricket results…

First up though will be some thoughts from my incredible experience with the MSO Cybec program last week!