Whilst it’s great to be posting again after my winter break it’s even better to be able to announce that the awesome ELISION Ensemble will be giving the Australian premiere of my piece for brass and percussion, ymrehanne krestos (2012-13) on Tuesday 18th March 2014 at 8pm (UTC+10).
The concert, entitled And the Scream, Bacon’s Scream, will take place at Carriageworks, Sydney and, in addition to my piece, will feature music by Liza Lim, Timothy McCormack, Aaron Cassidy and Richard Barrett.
If you’re in the right hemisphere, you should go. If only for the other fascinating musical voices alongside my own.
I wrote ymrehanne krestos for ELISION during the winter months of 2012, the piece being premiered at the University of Singapore on 01.02.13, conducted by Tony Makarome. The same players (Tristram Williams, flugelhorn; Ben Marks, alto trombone; Peter Neville, percussion) brought the piece to Huddersfield for its UK premiere on 08.02.13, conducted by Aaron Cassidy and the same team is also taking the piece to Australia this March, this time conducted by Carl Rosman.
The piece is ridiculously problematic on so so many levels. I’m still ‘dealing with it’ myself: it’s probably just about the most ridiculous thing I’ve yet created. The music is hyper-virtuosic to say the least and, at times, pushes against and crosses the threshold of physical possibility on the instruments employed. In addition, the music runs almost entirely non-stop for nearly 13 minutes. Nobody gets a rest. At all. (One of the original players playfully described the piece to me as “like being stuck in a jet engine for 13 minutes.” That’s actually very fair. It is.)
Why? Well, the piece is an example of a way of working with material that I came to develop for myself whilst working on my PhD. I called the process ’re-coupling,’ which involves the unsympathetic collision of various separately composed layers or streams of musical information. In ymrehanne, these layers consisted of various physical dimensions of the instruments employed (valve combination, slide position, articulation, air pressure, air speed) as well as more abstract strata (bar length patterns, patterns of rhythmic compression, arbitrary repetition of bars of material). Add all that together and you get a fairly consistently hectic sonic surface. I’ve written more about the piece (alongside other related examples of my compositions) in a conference paper, which is freely available here.
The reality of all that composer-nonsense is a score that any sensible musician would look at and assume was some kind of sick joke. Thankfully, in the almost unfeasibly virtuosic hands, arms, lips and tongues of the ELISION musicians for whom it was written such a reaction did not occur and for that I will be for ever in awe and in debt.