CeReNeM Journal Issue 2

A little late off the plate, but the second issue of the CeReNeM Journal, which I edited, is available online here.

In the issue are a number of interesting reflections, analyses and post-mortems of people’s experiences of summer academies, master-classes and symposia. Submissions for the first part were largely dictated by the participants in the symposium to which it is devoted, while the second part comprises submissions from some of my more nefarious colleagues.

Please also note that the call for submissions for the third issue (to be edited by Richard Glover) is up now. The issue focusses on time and temporality (which is, of course, a matter very close to my heart). It looks awesome. I’m really excited about the Journal’s move to a fully peer-reviewed format, and the more rigorous focus that this will entail.

New Music Scrapbook

A recent initiative of people associated with the University of Minnesota, New Music Scrapbook provides a series of fascinating composer interviews and accompanying audio of their work.

In the words of the Scrappers themselves:

Born of desperation and raised by wolves, NEW MUSIC SCRAPBOOK congeals the musical detritus and burnt offerings of the composers beneath, above, and within the University of Minnesota. Dig here for music and interviews. And we mean deep.

One thing I love about the interviews, particularly, is that they are long. These are not cursory two-minute things that effectively blot out any context from them, these are big, rambling (yet focused) conversations that succeed in presenting a detailed image of the composer’s outlook.

This is a valuable resource, and I wish more people were doing stuff like this.

Neither wholes nor parts

Composer Scott McLaughlin has finally started a blog. This comes as awesome news to those of us who’ve been wishing he would for (in my case, at least) as long as we’ve known him.

New ELISION videos from King’s Place

Stand by for a post on the obsessive, geeky love affair I’ve been having with ELISION’s new disc of the music of Brian Ferneyhough, entitled Terrain.

In the meantime, ELISION has published a series of videos to Youtube of performances from King’s Place in February:

Liza Lim, Invisibility

Just breathtaking.

Richard Barrett, Aurora

I was a bit hard on this piece when I originally posted on the concert. Perhaps I still don’t like it so much as I like much of Barrett’s other work, but I think it’s definitely a piece that rewards repeated listening. Also, rewatching this, I can’t see/hear the sense of ‘unsettledness’ in performance that I alluded to. These guys eat this piece for breakfast. (Obviously, this has far-reaching implications in terms of the validity of any of the opinionated waffle I post here…).

Timothy McCormack, Disfix

What can I say, I love this piece.


The last few weeks have seen the announcement of some of the most important prizes in Australian Contemporary Music.

Firstly, as mentioned earlier, was the Australian Classical Music Awards. A full list of winners can be found here, and it was both nice to see awards going to, in some cases, the ‘right’ people (Southern Cross Soloists, George Lentz), rather than the politically expedient people.

A method other than performance activity, though, needs to be come up with in order to determine the ‘work of the year’ prizes. For instance, it’s utterly unsurprising that the work of Lyn Williams was more performed than any other vocal work of 2008. It would be nice for all of the winners of those prizes, surely, to be able to claim that the prize had been won on merit, rather than statistics.

The second is the Ian Potter Composer Fellowships. These have, for over a decade, been one of the great bastions of composer support in this country, and provide an established composer with $80,000 over two years, and an emerging one with $20,000. This is the last year that this prize is being offered for composition (they’re moving on to an as-yet-undisclosed other artform as of 2011), and so of course every man and his dog entered (including moi, naturally…).

I was expecting to be writing here that the recipients were utterly undeserving, to rail against the triumph of mediocrity. I was prepared to attribute it to the questionable politics of the jury (cue rant about postmodernist hegemony, or some-such). Or perhaps chalk it up to karmic necessity after their having got it so absolutely right last time around.

But it turns out the prizes went to Gordon Kerry and Iain Grandage. Now, I’m not really familiar with any of Grandage’s music, although his name has been one that crops up increasingly frequently of late, and I’m sure that such a grant will allow us all a better opportunity to engage with his work. Gordon Kerry, on the other hand, is right up there, in my opinion, with a small handful of composers who are so deserving of, and yet so infrequently receive, such honours that it’s almost criminal.

The jury also made an exceptional grant of $8,000 to Damien Ricketson. Good on them.

Not bad for a jury that knows absolutely nothing about contemporary music.

(Resonate coverage to be found here).

The third is the announcement of finalists for the Paul Lowin prizes. List of finalists can found here.

It’s a great shame that Carl Vine’s Symphony No 7 looks like the most serious contender for the orchestral prize. While it’s a work that clearly demonstrates a formidable orchestral technique, and an obviously musical mind, I just kinda feel that the piece would have been more interesting had it been written by Carl Vine, rather than cobbled together out of clearly recognisable trinkets nicked, sans context, from Shostakovich, Vaughan Williams and, especially, Stravinsky (like, seriously, it could be re-branded as a concerto for Petroushka and orchestra…). Bitchy sniping aside, though, the two performances I’ve heard of it now (on radio) have been bloody good, and anybody that thinks that either WASO or ASO can’t play need to start paying closer attention…

On the other hand, the Song Cycle category has three very strong contenders indeed, and my preferences there tend more towards stylistic predilections, rather than actual opinion, and it seems a shame not to be able to recognise three such worthy candidates equally.

(Also, does anybody find it weird that the press release doesn’t mention the pieces by name?)