New Music Days: The new Melbourne music program delving deeper into compositions

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New Music Days: The new Melbourne music program delving deeper into compositions

Words by Sam Beros

Premiering this April 19-21, Melbourne Recital Centre's New Music Days program offers an eye into the minds of Australia’s most exceptional composers.

Spanning over five events, the three-day curation gives the artists a chance to perform and deconstruct their work in front of a live audience. In the wake of a rapidly changing world, the festival aims to question the status quo and open up the conversation in fresh and diverse ways, with a focus on both First Nations and female composers.

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In the first event of the program on Wednesday April 19, contemporary percussionist Dr. Louise Devenish presents Alluvial Gold: an audio-visual collage of eclectically designed instruments and field recordings set to explore the multitude of stories intertwined with river systems, and how a history of colonisation has shifted their placement. Tickets for Alluvial Gold can be found here.

In the second performance on the same day, Ngarra-Burria, meaning ‘to listen, to sing’ in Dharug, is the latest collection from Christopher Sainsbury’s Ensemble Offspring. Boasting 18 tracks amongst a dozen Indigenous composers, the project explores both new and experienced First Nations works within the realm of classical music. Tickets for Ngarra-Burria can be found here.

On Thursday April 20, The Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) will display a program of compositions from some of its most talented musicians in The ANAM Set – Director’s Cut. The works have been carefully selected from a diverse array of compositions featuring 67 artists that spanned over eight months. The handful of compositions that will be performed have been specifically chosen for their suitability within the broader New Music Days program, and following a uniquely difficult time for music performance, they will serve as a celebration of the organisation’s resilience and breadth. Tickets for Director’s Cut can be found here.

Later that evening, Extinction Events & Dawn Chorus – composed by Liza Lim and performed by the ELISION ensemble – thoroughly explores the details of climate change. Utilising recordings of beings that have since become extinct, the work grandly imagines the man-made dissolution of our natural world. Additional pieces include Mary Bellamy’s Enveloped (involving the forging of cello and contrabass into a singular, new sound) and a piano concerto on behalf of Aaron Cassidy. Tickets for Extinction Events & Dawn Chorus can be found here.

Finally on Friday April 21, Finding Our Voice is a concert emerging from a nationwide project, which blends together the classical and the electronic in a dreamlike fashion, merging renaissance-era stylings with sounds of the modern day. Revolving around a world premiere of a new work by acoustic composer Lisa Illean, the work program displays a range of interpretations by eight living composers. Tickets for Finding Our Voice can be found here.

“This year we wanted to create a new festival that shines a spotlight on how composers and performers in new music are responding to the world around them,” Marshall McGuire, Director of Programming at Melbourne Recital Centre and curator of New Music Days said. “To look at what’s new, to stimulate discussions around ideas and themes, to explore what artists are thinking—and what they’re creating.

“New Music Days is an opportunity to celebrate the brilliant imaginations on display, and to consider where we’re at as we emerge from this recent period of disruption, challenge the status quo, and consider and respond to issues of importance in our changed world.”

New Music Days is generously supported by the Robert Salzer Foundation. Find out more about the entire New Music Days program here.

This article was made in partnership with New Music Days.