17 January 2016

Coffee and 500 and the one shot

There were just four of them at this year's National Music Camp and they only get to come to one camp and at that camp they only perform, if that's the word for it, for their one allocated spot at the Composition concert, so the composers may be thought to have a tough time of it. But they are hugely important and central to this whole endeavour and they get to control and guide the whole, and in this case they got to lead the tutors, because it is the tutors who perform the new compositions. It must be a different experience. They all talked of peripheral entertainment, playing 500 or billiards or late night coffees. They could also all talk of the intense work, the development, the ideas that formed or guided or led to a piece. Stephen de Filippo was inspired by a painting of someone peeling a boiled egg for an invalid to create Meal for a convalescent. He had split the group into a trio of percussion, clarinet and viola (perhaps violin?) who led the piece then interacted with the rest of the ensemble, starting quiet and delicate then through tutto passages to a trio ending. Michael Mathieson-Sandars presented Got no coal. This had a political edge, merging melodies from Mozart with an old Union song, music of aristocratic and worker traditions, all treated microtonally and otherwise so the origins weren't too obvious. Unlike the previous, this one started big and receded. Mmm, there's thought here of the modern world, of the 1% and the rest. Then Josiah Padmanabham presented Karin. This was an exploration of characters from the Bergman film, Through the past darkly. This seemed more sparse, hammered piano notes, isolated other notes. Then Daniel Riley with Gravitations. He admitted a nerdy interest in physics and a non-nerdy practice in billiards. Gravitations investigated the idea of kinetic motion, velocity imparted from one ball to another, energy dissipated in collisions, missed pockets even, and a parallel of ideas combining, reflecting. Metric modulation was mentioned. This was bigger, more symphonic and my favourite of the afternoon, but all were intellectually satisfying and musically investigative. Four composers appearing from the low lights of coffee and cards. Interesting.

Composers Stephen de Filippo, Michael Mathieson-Sandars, Josiah Padmanabham and Daniel Riley presented new works that were written at the NMC. Elliott Gyger conducted tutor ensembles and interviewed the composers.

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