'A Room of Her Own' to be premiered by the Australian String Quartet - October 17th, Elder Hall, Adelaide. My new string quartet, commissioned by the Elder Conservatorium with assistance from the John Bishop Memorial Prize. will finally receive its premiere on October 17th. My piece is a musical essay and personal reflection responding to Virginia Woolf's (pictured left) seminal essay 'A Room of One's Own'. In my work, I quote melodies written by three incredible composers of the past; Clara Schumann, Rebecca Clarke and Margaret Sutherland. To read about the quoted works, and to learn more of the diverse and difficult circumstances in which these women wrote music, visit my blog. For more information and tickets, please visit https://asq.com.au/whats-on/beethoven-sollima-cawrse/
2020 : the year that might have been... My 10-year old son announced the other day that he had spent his free computer time at school "researching me" (I suspect this mostly involved copying photos from my website and turning them into memes...) Anyway, it caused me to think it about time I added some fresh news to my website. And of course in this most unusual of years, that largely means announcing cancellations and postponements. So here are some 'highlights'-
My new work for the Australian String Quartet, A Room of Her Own, which was completed back in February and was meant to be featured in a national tour in April, will *hopefully* be premiered in Adelaide to a live audience (remember them?) in October. It will also be recorded as part of the ASQ's 'Australian Anthologies' project, an incredibly collection that celebrates and promotes some great new works by Australian composers (discover more here). Further details to come.
We hoped for some time that it could still go ahead, but unfortunately the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra's presentation of 'She Speaks' (originally intended for June 2020, then pushed to September) has been further postponed until 2021. This means you will need to wait a while longer to hear my Suite from Innocence. In the mean time, read more about this poignant and compelling new opera here.
All being well, my 2019 work Flame and Shadow will feature in the 2021 Coriole Music Festival, after the 2020 program was rolled over to the following year. Having already heard the equally gorgeous Soprano's Greta Bradman and Bethany Hill perform this work, I can't wait to hear my notes and Sara Teadale's evocative poetry in the hands of Lorina Gore.
So what has been happening? After a pretty tumultuous opening 6 months of the year, I've been settling into a steady stream of projects. New works completed or in the pipeline:
Advice to a girl - for Mezzo Soprano and String Quartet, text by Sara Teasdale. Commissioned by Arts SA as part of a recording project of original compositions for String Quartet - details soon!
Afterword - for a capella SATB, text by David Malouf. Commissioned for the newly formed Australian Vocal Ensemble, brainchild of the inimitable Katie Noonan. (This was going to be recorded and premiered in Brisbane in November, but, well, you know...)
As flower, as fire - for solo piano. To be performed by Michael Ierace for the Firm New Music at Elder Hall in Adelaide in October. Fairly confident this one will *actually* go ahead!
Songs Without Words - for the Benaud Trio. Commissioned by the ABC Fresh Start Fund. A work in three short movements, exploring the life, music and relationship between brother and sister composers Fanny & Felix Mendelssohn.
2020 announcements! I'm ecstatic to announce two super exciting premieres and musical adventures for 2020. First, I am delighted to be curating 'She Speaks' with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra - a celebration of the past, present and future of women composers in Australia and beyond. Held in Adelaide on June 24th 2020, 'She Speaks' will include performances of works by Clara Schumann, Fanny Hensel, Ruby Davy, Elena Kats Chernin, Peggy Glanville Hicks, Lisa Cheney, Caroline Shaw, Kaija Saariaha and others. I'm especially excited that my newly arranged 'Suite from Innocence' will be premiered with soloists Desiree Frahn, Teresa La Rocca. Adam Goodburn and Joshua Rowe. See more at https://www.aso.com.au And second- my new work for String Quartet, 'A Room Of Her Own' will be premiered around Australia by the incredible Australian String Quartet. This work is an intimate and personal exploration of my own experiences in being a female composer in the 21st century. For more information and booking, please see https://asq.com.au/national-season-2020/season-overview-2020/
Three new works for St Mary's College, Adelaide On Saturday August 10th, I was delighted to be a guest at St Mary's College 'Story, Music & Memory' celebratory gala dinner, recognising the 150th anniversary of the school. I was honored to have been commissioned by the school to compose a triptych of works commemorating this special anniversary. The school orchestra and choir, along with past scholars and sister school students, ably and enthusiastically presented three new pieces: "Bound For A Foreign Land" for Orchestra "Te Deum Laudamus" for SSAA Choir "The Dawning of a New Day (Gloria!) for SA Choir and Orchestra
Recent and upcoming performances, old and new This year is turning out to be one of repeat performances as well as new commissions. I am exceptionally grateful for this: as invigorating as it is to hear a new work for the first time, I love hearing new interpretations of existing works, and knowing what I write has a life beyond a single performance. Flame and Shadow, my recent commission for the Plexus Collective and Greta Bradman, had a repeat performance at 333 Collins Street, Melbourne in May as part of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's Secret Symphony. Have a look at some of the beautiful images from that concert via their Instagram here. Adelaide's Graduate Singers performed the second movement of my Requiem, 'God Rest Us' at their luminous concert Beneath The Moon. It was a delight to hear the piece with full choir rather than quartet for the first time, and to be on a program featuring all living composers. Also here in Adelaide, The Firm New Music have long been amazing advocates for mine and other local composers works. In the coming months, Adelaidians can come to Elder Hall to hear the Piano and Soprano arrangement of Flame and Shadow, performed by the glorious Bethany Hill and Jamie Cock (September 16th), and pianist Konstantin Shamray warming up for his performance of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations with my work Introduction, Theme and Variations(November 18th). The Opal Guitar Quartet have been working hard on a Guitar Quartet arrangement of Skittled. This fun, rhythmically irregular work was originally composed for string quartet, and I was thrilled when the boys from Opal asked for a guitar arrangement. Upcoming performances will be announced soon, as well as a recording that I hope to be able to share. Over in Victoria, Cheryl Pickering of Various People Inc., along with Kate MacFarlane and Sachiko Hidaka will be presenting their new show 'Household Names' at this year's Port Fairy Spring Music Festival. The show will include songs by me, alongside of those by Barbara Strozzi and Clara Schumann. And for something brand new: hot off the press is in spaces between, a new work for Adelaide's fearless Zephyr Quartet. This piece is a meditation on the struggles of trying to squeeze composing into the small spaces in one's life. Stay tuned for performance details. And there's more......! But I'll leave that for another post :-)
'Requiem' for SATB and Organ; Good Friday, April 19th 2019 I'm absolutely delighted with my latest work, Requiem, which will be premiered at Clayton Wesley Uniting Church this coming Good Friday at 9.30am. This commission came about in part thanks to Rachel Bruerville (herself a wonderful composer- discover more here) who sings regularly with The Spire Quartet, a quartet of professional singers who present items and assist with the music delivery at the church a few times a month. Each Good Friday, the church presents a Requiem Mass as a means of reflection and meditation upon the death of Christ. A passion for contemporary Australian composition saw Rachel suggest that this year the church could present an Australian work. When an appropriate work couldn't be found, she and I got talking- and fast forward a few months, and I've composed my first Requiem! My Requiem is in 7 movements and lasts around 35 minutes. It is scored for SATB with Organ, and while the premier will be presented by 4 singers, it could easily be performed by a choir with soloists. For the text, I've taken sections of the traditional Latin text and juxtaposed them (sometimes within the same movement) against prayers taken from Michael Leunig's 'The Prayer Tree'. I'm exceptionally grateful, once again, for Michael's generosity in allowing his words to inspire composers such as myself. Read more about the upcoming presentation of 'Requiem' here.
'Musaic' for Chamber Orchestra; performed on April 6th by members of the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by Luke Dollman. Writing an orchestral work is a long, exhausting and exhilarating process. And rightly or wrongly, even when a work is composed in response to a commission, it's premiere is often accompanied by tinges of the bittersweet. Such it was for 'Musaic', a work I composed way back in 2007, as a recipient of a commission from the Cybec Foundation for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's 21st Century Composer's Program. It was premiered, enjoyed, nominated for an award even, and then... nothing. Until this month! Finally, 'Musaic' received it's hometown premiere, with Luke Dollman leading members of the Elder Conservatorium Orchestra through the work with great delicacy and sensitivity. I was delighted to hear it brought to life once more; it is a work which I am still very proud of, and I suspect I would change nothing were I to write it again. One of the delights of having 'Musaic' revisited after such a long break was the opportunity to connect with Adelaide-based composer and writer David Lang who wrote the program notes for the concert. It's rather fascinating what you remember (and what you don't!) about the creative process years down the track. I suspect the things that stick in your mind, whether they seem significant or not, are the elements that actually matter. David's words are his take on the work following our (rather informal) conversation and his listening to the music. He has captured perfectly what I was trying to say musically, and reading it makes me realise why I'm a composer and not a writer. You can read the program note for 'Musaic' here, and listen to ECSO performing 'Musaic' here.
'Flame and Shadow' for Soprano, Violin, Clarinet and Piano Commissioned by the 2019 Women in Music Festival. Premiered by Greta Bradman and Plexus Collective (Monica Curro, Philip Arkinstall & Stefan Cassomenos.) To say 2019 started with a bang is somewhat of an understatement... I entered January with my head filled with ideas for various commissions I would need to complete before the middle of the year (a Requiem Mass, a work for school orchestra and choir and a string quartet). Then, to my utter delight, I found myself needing to shelve all those thoughts until at least mid-February, in order to complete a new work for Plexus and the acclaimed Soprano Greta Bradman, having been awarded the established composer commission for the inaugural Women in Music Festival in March, 2019. The resultant work, 'Flame and Shadow', is a 16-minute song cycle in one, unbroken movement. It takes us through four different sonic landscapes inspired by the words of American lyric poet Sara Teasdale. I have set Teasdale's poetry before, and find that the musicality within her writing leaps off the page. This is certainly an advantage when faced with a short time frame to compose a new piece! I'm very much looking forward to 'Flame and Shadow' receiving repeated airings later this year- watch this space!
'Skin Metal Wood' - a Percussion Concerto for Wind Orchestra and Soloist. Premiered December 1st, 2018, Elder Hall, Adelaide Soloist- Jamie Adam With the Adelaide Wind Orchestra, Conducted by Veronica Boulton. Way back in 2005 when working towards my PhD in Composition at The University of Adelaide, I decided that it would be a great idea to write a percussion concerto. I needed to write something 'big', and I was a little obsessed with American Composer Joseph Schwantner at the time, including his incredible percussion concerto, so it seemed as good a challenge as any. The work I composed was for Symphony Orchestra with Percussion soloist, and was the only work in my folio which remained unperformed... that is until now! It took a few years to plan- and a lot of re-orchestration!- but I was absolutely delighted to have the new (and I think improved) version of 'Skin Metal Wood' premiered by the spectacular Jamie Adam and the Adelaide Wind Orchestra in their 'Sunburnt Country' concert, featuring an all-Australian women composers program. Structured in 3 movements totaling around 40 minutes, each movement allows the soloist to explore percussion instruments of a particular categorization (Skin- a variety of Drums; Metal-Vibraphone, Crotales, Cymbals, Triangles to name a few; Wood- Marimba). Jamie totally owned the soloist role, the Adelaide Wind Orchestra were in fine form, and I relished the opportunity to write really big, really loud music. I'm definitely keen to try my hand at Wind Orchestra music again some day.