Interview by Maddy Briggs for Limelight Magazine published 22nd August 2023.
Maddy Briggs wrote a gorgeous feature article about an upcoming concert with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra (MCO), including a written interview about my working process with Sophie Rowell and MCO on a world premiere of a
new Sinfonia No 1. Embracing Duarte. Richard Jackson from MCO commissioned the work mid 2022; in my usual skin-of-the-teeth writing style, I've been working on it right up until the final touches yesterday! The concert tour starts this week with the world premiere at the Wyndham Cultural Centre, Werribee on Saturday the 26th of August.
You can read Maddy's interview, the link to Limelight is down below, but here are my thoughts on her questions and the commission...
Sophie Rowell introduced me to Leonora Duarte when she approached me about the commission for MCO in 2022. Leonora Duarte was a Flemish, Jewish, female composer whose works are the only surviving examples of viol works written by a woman from the 17th Century. I absolutely love the early styles so from the moment Sophie played me the recording, I was completely enamoured with Duarte’s work. The elegance of the material and her exquisite use of brevity are deeply engaging but leave me with terrible heartache, as they are here and gone so soon. Like love disappearing before you're ready for it to leave
To write the Sinfonia, I borrowed compositional techniques and ideas from Duarte’s pieces, without direct quotation. The material was written through improvisatory practices and draws heavily on dreams and my memories of sleeping by on the floor by the fire while my mother played violin in community country orchestras. My mother passed earlier this year so writing from my memories of her was very, very special. When my work is heard alongside Leanora Duarte’s, my hope is that it will somehow create a conversation across the centuries between us.
Working with MCO was absolutely incredible. They are a great orchestra with beautiful players, most of whom I play with through cello, so I could write for these people and their unique expressive skills, specifically. Workshopping the first rough draft of ideas with Sophie Rowell was a dream; playing through the score, switching parts to try out the polyphony and various harmonies. But working on the cadenza was my absolute favourite experience! Two women* working together without worry about what might happen; just loving the process of creating music together. Honestly; bliss. *I'm femme today
Writing this work was such a joyful and liberating experience, to have full permission to write using the treasured and somewhat stylistically protected early classical idioms. I felt I was finally allowed to write in a style I have always loved instead of what is widely expected from contemporary composers. This is not to say I don’t love writing experimental contemporary (I absolutely do and always will!), I just felt I was letting out a long-held secret that I am, behind all the skin art, rather conservative, and that’s ok! Maybe my most rebellious act is to come out as a conservative at such a late age, or maybe that's just a normal process of maturation (finally! I can hear people sighing with relief) :)
MELBOURNE Sun 27/08/23 2:30PM Melbourne Recital Centre
MELBOURNE Thu 31/08/23 7:30PM Melbourne Recital Centre
WERRIBEE Sat 26/08/23 7:30PM Wyndham Cultural Centre
PORTLAND Wed 06/09/23 7:30PM Portland Arts Centre
CASTERTON Thu 07/09/23 7:30PM Casterton Town Hall
DAYLESFORD Sat 09/09/23 2:30PM Daylesford Town Hall
Maddy is such a beautiful writer! Here is the link to her interview