New music's next generation
Developing a unique artistic voice and honing your craft as a performer or composer are essential to building a successful career as a musician. But practical skills are important too, and the value of being able to write a killer grant application, manage the development of a project, build professional networks and understand and communicate with an audience can never be underestimated.
To help the next generation of composers and performers gain these skills, this year's winner of the Art Music Award for Excellence by an Organisation, Ensemble Offspring, runs a unique mentorship program.
Now in its third year, the Hatched Academy draws on the experience and knowledge of the ensemble, which started in 1995 and has become one of the leading new music groups in Australia.
Ensemble Offspring Artistic Director, Claire Edwardes, sees the Hatched Academy as one way the ensemble contributes to nurturing new talent and to keeping the new music scene alive and vibrant.
"When I was a new graduate, there were virtually no opportunities for musicians like me who wanted to forge a more innovative path through the musical landscape. Here at Ensemble Offspring we have a huge amount to offer through our 20 years of experience, so the Hatched Academy is our chance to give back to the next generation of young artists."
‘Hatchlings’, as participants are affectionately called, undertake a mentorship with the ensemble, whereby performers have the opportunity to take part in concerts alongside the ensemble while composers are given the opportunity to have their compositions workshopped and performed by the group.
All the hatchlings get to work with an international guest artist-in-residence as well – who this year is the Berlin-based composer, Juan Felipe Waller. The mentorship is also designed to give hatchings a view across the company, providing insights into activities such as artistic planning, fundraising and marketing.
This year’s Hatched Academy performers are both cellists. Though from broadly different backgrounds, both share a love of working with composers. David Moran from Adelaide, is currently Principal Cello with the Australian Youth Orchestra, while Sydney-based Mary Rapp’s experience has spanned the jazz and improvisation worlds to approach new music through working with Ensemble Offspring.
Perth-based James Bradbury and Julia Reidy - who divides her time between Sydney and Berlin - are this year’s Hatched composers. Both young artists approach their work in very different ways.
James, currently completing his masters, is exploring the potential that machine learning and data science techniques have when applied to the area of composition. This involves working closely with instrumentalists and designing programs that can interpret and respond to musical stimulus.
Julia's methods and practice are a culmination of solo instrumental approaches through exploratory and improvisatory processes, as well as an investigation into the organisation of these ideas for ensembles.
As part of the Hatched Academy, both composers are currently working on new compositions that will be work-shopped by the ensemble at a Bundanon Trust residency during November.
Of his new work, James says,"I have been relishing the opportunity to do something raw and very physical as a piece".
Overall, the piece acts as an environment in which the performers must focus on the physicality of their playing. The technical norms of their instruments are challenged, and they have to work extremely hard to control their sound and work together to move through complex physical actions.
Julia is working on two new compositions navigating phases of thematic material derived from unstable harmonic and rhythmic systems. Seams, Nor Needlework depicts this idea through the medium of electric guitar, vibraphone, bass clarinet, cello and percussion. The composition features both fixed and open components and aims to establish an immersive environment, which is both persistent and malleable. Dispersion of Light by Prism is the arrangement of modular and vaguely cyclical ideas that aim to portray an image that is both static and shifting.
Both composers express their excitement about working with the ensemble at the residency in Bundanon. James is keen to see his work realised.
"I am interested in seeing how my ideas come to fruition in the real world and how this concept of physicality can be explored,” he said. “It will also be great to work with a mixture of professionals and ‘hatchlings’ and to be able to discuss and work through the piece as a team."
Julia acknowledges the opportunity to develop new work with some of Australia's finest musicians.
"I feel that this experience will heavily inform my compositional and professional direction, and is indicative of the vitality of opportunities for emerging composers in Australia’s musical community.”
Following the residency, each composer will have their work premiered by Ensemble Offspring and the Hatched performers at Kontiki Racket – a micro festival of new music on 12 and 13 November.
Applications for the 2017 Hatched Academy are open now for composers under 30, and close 11 November 2016. More details are available at www.ensembleoffspring.com.
APRA AMCOS supports the Hatched Academy through its Music Grants program.