Tuesday 14th April, 2020

MEET THE COMPOSERS

A key aspect of National Music Camp is the program devoted to the creation of new music, where four rising composers write pieces to be workshopped and performed by resident tutors. The Words About Music participants spoke to the 2020 composer cohort in order to learn more about them, their music, and what inspired them to pursue composition.


Name: 

Sophie Van Dijk

Hometown:

Sydney

What drew you to composition?

I think I always wanted to create music, I never did my piano practice and instead I would sit at the piano and improvise. My mum would shout at me from the kitchen and tell me to play the Mozart or whatever it was, but I rarely did that. Through high school I was really lucky to have a teacher who extended me in my composition; it really encouraged me.

Favourite composer, and why?

Missy Mazzoli. She’s a young female composer, so I identify with her story. I find her music is flooded with colour and texture and it’s simple, easy listening with layers of hidden complexity. I feel happy when I listen to her music.

What is your 2020 National Music Camp piece called? Can you tell us a little about it?

My piece is entitled i don’t want it anymore and is best summarised as reflections on when ‘it’ becomes too much.

What is your favourite instrument to write for and why?

This is easy: clarinet. I love the range, which is massive, and it has distinct timbral qualities across the registers. There’s such potential in the clarinet; it’s a flexible instrument to write for. There are so many extended techniques but it’s an instrument that can just play a beautiful melody if need be.

If you were a pizza topping, what would you be and why?

Cheese. Because it’s delicious and you can never go wrong with cheese.

Sophie Van Dijk’s composition i don’t want it anymore delves into the human experience of hopelessness, and contributes to the conversation around mental health. Sophie is both a composer and violinist with a passion for writing music to explore elements of faith, society and humanity. Read more about her composition here.

 


Name:

Victor Arul

Hometown:

Perth

What drew you to composition?

I think it’s the idea that it’s an art form that doesn’t need semantic meaning. It can exist purely in an abstract world.

Favourite composer, and why?

Johann Sebastian Bach. Because he was so passionate about composition and created so much; in fact he was passionate about music in general. He walked 250 miles to hear Dietrich Buxtehude play in Lübeck, which is incredible. In his music, every note is so logical; vertically, contrapuntally. And even in his multipart works you can isolate each part and they form individual, masterful compositions.

What is your 2020 National Music Camp piece called? Can you tell us a little about it?

Imagined Communities. The idea is that at the beginning and end of the piece there are quotations of galant classical works, yet in the middle there’s a different sound world—it’s very avant-garde, with lots of bombastic moments.

What is your favourite instrument to write for and why?

I’d love to write for ten orchestras and electronics. Because there’s so many possibilities. Mahler once said ‘symphony is a world’—so imagine having ten different worlds around a single room. And then electronics would just provide so many possibilities for a completely different sound world; you can create practically any sound with them.

If you were a pizza topping, what would you be and why?

I’d be mint ice-cream; I don’t go well with pizza.

Imagined Communities was written in the midst of Victor’s studies of Australian foreign wars and Asian decolonisation at the University of Western Australia. His works are largely abstract and blend non-traditional sound worlds with the Classical and Baroque eras. Read more about his composition here.

 


Name:

Claire Farrell

Hometown:

Launceston

What drew you to composition?

That’s loaded! Finding out that I had an aptitude for it was really what planted the seed. From there it grew into a passion for composition. I played around on piano until one thing led to another.

Favourite composer, and why?

Peter Sculthorpe; not just because he’s featured heavily in the program this year. He’s from Tasmania too. I feel that he accurately captures the Tasmanian and Australian landscapes in his music.

What is your 2020 NMC piece called, can you tell us a little about it?

A New Tempest. It’s really a reflection on a multitude of different things that are at their beginning. It reflects on our changing times, tumultuous things that we may face, and our personal journeys as well. It’s reflecting on new things that are happening; opportunities—really exploring that.

What is your favourite instrument to write for and why?

The clarinet. It’s just so versatile, with so many timbres, and its range is amazing. The fact that it can play barely audible volumes is remarkable.

If you were a pizza topping, what would you be and why?

I would be mushroom and goats’ cheese. That perfect mix of wild and cultivated flavour.

Claire Farrell’s A New Tempest was imagined through her hometown in Tasmania, as she took in the vast wilderness of Mount Wellington on a windy day. In her current studies of composition at the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music she has developed a musical style informed by her love of nature, pulsing rhythms and musical imagery. Read more about her composition here.

 


Name:

Alexander Voltz

Hometown:

Brisbane

What drew you to composition?

Maybe I thought I could do it better... I just wanted to be able to create like other people did.

Favourite composer, and why?

I don’t have a favourite composer. To have a favourite composer would suggest that one was better than another; I think everything is too different.

What is your 2020 National Music Camp piece called? Can you tell us a little about it?

Curtain! It helps to highlight that fiction is just a different perspective of reality.

What is your favourite instrument to write for and why?

Again I don’t have a favourite… but at the moment I’m having a lot of fun with string instruments and examining their different colours and textures.

If you were a pizza topping, what would you be and why?

Pineapple—because it’s divisive!

Curtain is a direct reference to how fiction is created from the past, present and the predicted future. Alexander Voltz takes a deep exploration into the pop culture, novels, film and television we engage with and the sense they are becoming a reference to our own society. The Brisbane-based composer takes inspiration from myth, politics and the historic, whilst also deconstructing and challenging the human condition. Read more about his composition here.

 

These interviews were conducted by Words About Music participants at AYO National Music Camp 2020.