As part of Arts Centre Melbourne’s composition mentorship program 5x5x5, the five selected composers – Ceridwen McCooey, Mabel Windred-Wornes, Samuel Kreusler, Sue-Anne Tan and Theo Carbo – have today released their original compositions through Arts Centre Melbourne’s Together With You digital platform.
For the first time in the program’s eight-year history, 5x5x5 has given artists the autonomy to self-produce their works in home studios – ensuring they did not miss out on this crucial opportunity during lockdown.
“It was a great chance to develop new work at home in a time where working in a live capacity as a musician is not possible. It was also a really good chance to refine my technique in working with studio-based composition methods,” says Theo Carbo.
“It was really nice to just bunker down in my home studio and create with the limitation of only being able to use what I have available here. It was amazing what I pulled out of the cupboard; I found many percussion instruments from when I was a kid. It was a really experimental and introspective process,” says Mabel Windred-Wornes.
The five composers come from a diversity of musical backgrounds and practices, working under the direction of artistic mentor and celebrated composer Kate Neal. Exploring the theme of ‘Memory’ they each produced unique, engaging, and thoughtful compositions.
“I explored memory as something fragmented, repetitive and unclear. I tried to explore this through fragments of voice, breath and melody to create rhythmic elements that morph, break and play and how this can create chaos but also space and fluidity,” says Windred-Wornes.
Finding new ways of artistic practice within a Coronavirus landscape has raised many challenges for artists but Neal says this didn’t affect the mindset of the composers.
“It was great to see how each composer really pushed themselves to produce something with depth and integrity, and articulate what it is to be creative during this challenging time,” says Neal.
The five new works, each five minutes in duration, by the five emerging composers of 5x5x5: Memory for 2020 are:
- Ceridwen McCooey
‘Nain’“I wanted to create a piece that explored the idea of memories between two people not necessarily coming from the same shared moments in time. I wanted to explore an idea with what the world is coming to terms with now – having to say goodbye to our loved ones through technology. I wanted to show how unhuman it can be, yet how it’s something we are having to accept due to the nature of this virus.”
- Mabel Windred-Wornes
‘Confluence’“ After some experimental field recording on a bike ride with my little brother, I had this idea of incorporating childhood memory. I experimented with pairing a child’s voice playing by the creek with up-close vocals and percussive sounds from around the house, trying to create a sense of nostalgia for the past as well as a sense of being stuck inside of this repetitive monotony that is the isolation period. The journey of the piece is a struggle for order, dancing with chaos and then finding fluidity and harmony in the unexpected. ”
- Samuel Kreusler
‘Dissolution’“ I approached this idea compositionally by aiming to create a cathartic cinematic soundscape that for the most part focuses on causal listening; you’re listening for what’s actually causing the sound. By exploring how acoustic instruments and subtractive synthesis may create ambiguous causation, I wanted to create this piece where the implied environment or images are a bit alien, mysterious and outside what is familiar to you.”
- Sue-Anne Tan
‘ The Insects Inside My Head’“The most prominent memory I have of 2020 is the COVID-19 restrictions. As an international student living away from home, I haven’t had the luxury of spending more time with family, and I’m not very good with connecting with others over the phone or internet. For me, physical isolation pretty much turned into social isolation, and I found myself sinking into sleep constantly throughout the day. I wanted to reflect this psychological state of mine in my music, hence the title ‘The Insects Inside My Head’.”
- Theo Carbo
‘ Turnkey Equinimity’“I began my process by spending hours listening to a selection of family home videos identifying moments that were captivating, made me feel nostalgic or triggered different memories. I initially composed a duo for saxophone and guitar which I recorded with my sister, Flora Carbo. From there, I added other elements, including various woodwind instruments. Flora played the sound of our upright piano resonating sympathetically with the saxophone, as well as the various percussion and electronic instruments.”
The 5x5x5 program has been offered by Arts Centre Melbourne since 2013 as a powerful development pathway for young Victorian composers under the age of 30. Each composer is mentored by an industry professional and receives a $1,250 commission to produce new work with the intent to develop and support their artistic aspirations. It also paves the way for further development and profiling of emerging contemporary classical composers. Previous 5x5x5 programs include 2013’s Arts Centre Melbourne Spaces ; 2014’s Arts Centre Melbourne Spaces; 2015’s Arts Walk Quotes; 2017’s Journey and 2019’s Inside Out.
Arts Centre Melbourne announced it had postponed welcoming visitors back to its venues in accordance with the most recent Victorian Government guidelines on COVID-19. The ghost lights will stay on a little longer as Arts Centre Melbourne focuses on finding new ways to engage with audiences, including the digital online hub – Together With You. For more information including; bookings for free and ticketed events, Arts Centre Melbourne’s health and safety policies, as well as additional digital content and experiences visit artscentremelbourne.com.au