2015 plans

2015 is already looking busy busy busy!

In January, I took part in a week-long conducting workshop at the Melbourne Youth Music Summer Camp.  Directed by the outstanding Australian conductor Luke Dollman, 12 young conductors had the chance to conduct an orchestra every morning, covering repertoire from Mozart, Wagner, Stravinsky, Strauss and Sculthorpe.  I learnt a huge amount and grew much more confident on the podium each day, and is something I would recommend to anyone interested in taking on a baton.

2015 will also see me travel to the USA to work with Brad Linde at the Washington DC Jazz Festival.  We will be putting on a concert of my big band music, featuring some incredible musicians from New York, Washington and Canada.  Currently we are looking to book some other shows in New York City and Baltimore too.

Compositionally, this year will be busy with orchestral and chamber music commissions as I finish up my Masters degree at the University of Melbourne.  First, I’m writing a piece for the University of Melbourne Orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Northey, to be premiered in October and performed in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Following that, I’ll be writing a piece for trombone choir to be performed in Hong Kong, at the 2015 ‘SliderAsia’ brass festival.  The brass students at Melbourne Uni will be performing this one!

Finally, I’ve been asked to write a new work for Ensemble Three – for trumpet, trombone and guitar, also featuring electronics.  Don Immel, Joel Brennan and Ken Murray make up Ensemble Three, and I can’t wait to work closely with them in creating this work.  Also I’ve been given free rein to use electronics and MaxMSP, something I really enjoy.

While that should take me through to at least half-way through the year, the rest is still up in the air.  I’d like to write an extended work for string quartet or piano trio/quartet, and perhaps form an ensemble in Melbourne to perform my big band stuff.  Exciting times ahead in 2015  😀

– Elliott.



Solo percussion piece

I recently finished a composition for Solo percussionist, another opportunity to arise from my 2014 travels to the USA.  Colleen Bernstein, a percussion student at the Eastman School of Music, asked me to write a high-energy work for unpitched percussion instruments.  The result is “Trying to Sit Still on the Ark”, a reference to my choice of instruments being in two’s (two bongos, two tom-toms etc.).  I hope to be able to share a recording of it here soon!

Underdogs, with regrets – for bass trombone and electronics

Melbourne bass trombonist Benjamin Anderson invited me to compose a new piece for his 2014 Masters recital.  I chose to include live interactive electronics and four-speaker setup, capturing the trombone sound live then manipulating and replaying it in different ways throughout the piece.  Musically I took inspiration from the music of jazz great Charles Mingus, taking various elements of his compositions and casting them through my own compositional ideas.  The piece ended up with a bluesy influence amongst some ethereal atmospheric sounds, transitioning to more dense textures and lyrical passages.  Hopefully I’ll have some audio or video to share soon!

Ben is also performing this piece in New York at the New School, alongside the other outstanding new Australian works he commissioned for his recital.