Ruthless Jabiru will be a lead collaborator in the inaugural Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts in London next month, performing a programme honouring Australian poet and political activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal on Saturday 31 May.
The programme will centre around The Past, an orchestral song for countertenor by Australian composer Andrew Ford, combining Oodgeroo’s poem of the same name with James Cook’s diaries of his contact with the First Australians. The programme will include Altjiranga Mitjina by Chris Williams, its title translated from the Arrernte language as “the timeless dimension of dreams”; an idea at the heart of Oodgeroo’s poem. The two Australian works will be offset by British music in Neoclassical style by Michael Tippett and Tansy Davies, alongside the world premiere of Sandhi Prakash by Egidija Medekšaité, commissioned by Ruthless Jabiru through the Sound and Music Portfolio scheme. The orchestra will perform in the Grade I listed Chapel at Kings College London, joined by award-winning Australian countertenor Russell Harcourt. Booking for the event is now open at the festival website.
Ruthless Jabiru is pleased to be working with composer Michael Cryne through the Sound and Music Portfolio scheme. Currently pursuing Doctoral study in composition at Royal Holloway, University of London, Cryne has been a longstanding musical collaborator with The Royal Shakespeare Company and Second Skin Theatre. A recent prizewinner in several international competitions, he is an Associate of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Soundhub and Panufnik Young Composer schemes, and of Sound and Music’s New Voices scheme. Ruthless Jabiru will give the world premiere of his work Slipstream for string orchestra in the months ahead.
As one could imagine, moving to London, England for three months after growing up in Boise, Idaho seemed a bit daunting. Not only was I being thrown into classes and daily life in the heart of the city, I was taking on an Internship that I knew nothing about until the very last minute. However, the stars must have been aligned. I was introduced to Kelly, Ruthless Jabiru’s Artistic Director, through a mutual connection at the beautiful Southbank Centre and so began our work together through the FIE Internship Programme.
A little known fact about Kelly: she is an independent coffee shop connoisseur. Unfortunately, I didn’t share her expert knowledge navigating the city and ended up sending SOS messages every time I got lost on the way to meetings! Each work day we met at one of her hidden gems for coffee and conversation about ideas, plans, and research. Kelly set tasks that allowed me to learn through a combination of research and experience and I was able to put forward my own ideas for new ways to expand the orchestra’s brand. My tasks included everything from making spreadsheets and emailing contacts to researching crowdfunding platforms and laughing out loud at their promotional videos. Kelly also set up some external meetings for me. I was introduced to staff from the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic, as well as sitting in on some company meetings. Being both passionate about the music industry and an avid Lord of the Rings and Star Wars fan, these were amazing opportunites!
I am so grateful for my time with Ruthless Jabiru, and the opportunity to take an inside look at the orchestra and watch it grow. Although I’ve now had to return to the United States, I wish Kelly and the players nothing but the best and am excited to watch the orchestra’s success from afar. Stay ruthless!
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.