We’ve had two Portfolio composer workshops with Ruthless Jabiru now and the three pieces are close to being finished. Each composer has taken their own approach to working with Kelly and the orchestra. Eugene Birman’s piece was more or less ready at the first workshop and so for him the process has been one of refinement. Imago Dei is a piece full of contrast – from flickering clouds of notes, to rich harmonies, to the sounds of the players’ breath – and the challenge is in navigating these contrasts.
Michael Cryne, on the other hand, came to the first workshop with the beginnings of his Slipstream, almost as if he was checking that he was on the right track. He was, and for the second workshop he had a finished score which follows those opening ideas through to an exhilarating conclusion. It’s music which, once the notes are securely under the players’ fingers, is really going to fly.
Somewhere in between these two ways of using the workshop process has been Egidija Medekšaitė. Her piece depicts the transition from day to night and back again and she obviously knew how darkness and light should sound; it was the transitions which benefited from rehearsal, reflection and reworking and now the piece flows beautifully from one state to the other.
For me this whole experience has been hugely enjoyable. The three new works inhabit their very different imaginative domains with complete conviction and part of my role has been to confirm this for the composers. Rehearsing is my favourite part of the whole compositional process and sometimes it feels like it’s useful that I’ve spent a lot of my life listening to musicians working towards realisations of new music. Sometimes things don’t work immediately; maybe they’re misconceived or less than ideally communicated, but often it’s just a matter of being patient, waiting for them to come into focus. For composers there’s an art to being useful in rehearsals; knowing when an intervention might be helpful and when it’s just going to be annoying!
Ruthless Jabiru has been invited to be part of a project in aid of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge in central-west Queensland, where 153 bird species are under threat by a long-wall and open-cut coal mining proposal. The installation has been devised by visual artist Alison Clouston and sound artist Boyd in conjunction with the Bimblebox Art Project. Alison and Boyd have compiled mnemonics and onomatopoeias for the 153 birds under threat, to be interpreted as text compositions by 153 musicians and combined to form the installation soundtrack. The goal of the project is to highlight the threat to the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, to document Bimblebox creatively, and to show Australians and the world what we are at risk of losing. The installation will tour at least eight venues across four Australian states. We will be sharing audio from Ruthless Jabiru’s contribution to the project in the weeks ahead.
Ruthless Jabiru is pleased to be working with Egidija Medekšaité on the Sound and Music Portfolio composer scheme. A PhD candidate at Durham University, Medekšaité has been commissioned by contemporary music festivals including Huddersfield, Gaida Festival, Jauna Muzika, Druskomanija and Iš Arti Festival, with her work Dhani selected to represent Lithuania at the 2013 ISCM World Music Days. Her original scores for short film and digital animation have been heard at film festivals around the world, with The Button to be screened at the 2014 Leeds International Film Festival. Ruthless Jabiru will continue work on her piece Sandhi Prakash next week at our second Portfolio composer workshop.
Ruthless Jabiru has had the pleasure of working with composer Eugene Birman through the orchestra’s Sound and Music Portfolio composer scheme. Currently a DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford, Birman has been programmed across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Highlights of his 2013/14 season will include performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Estonian National Male Choir, Minnesota Orchestra and Sinfonietta Riga. Ruthless Jabiru will continue work on his piece Imago Dei for string orchestra next week at our second Portfolio composer workshop.
Artistic Director Kelly Lovelady talks about the formation of Ruthless Jabiru and the orchestra’s partnership with Sound and Music, the national agency for new music and sound art in the UK. The orchestra will be hosting its next Portfolio composer workshop later this month.
Composer Andrew Ford has been announced as the recipient of a Project Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts, with the grant to be used towards a collaboration with Ruthless Jabiru. Ford will develop his 2009 work A Dream of Drowning for baritone, string orchestra and percussion into a full length song cycle The Drowners, for premiere by Ruthless Jabiru in 2015.
Last week the orchestra hosted the first composer workshop of its Sound and Music partnership. The workshop was used to trial embryo pieces by Ruthless Jabiru’s three Portfolio scheme composers: Eugene Birman, Michael Cryne and Egidija Medekšaitė, and was reported by each to have been hugely beneficial. The three works will be further developed through a second workshop in the new year. Photos from the session here.