Alchemist Dances

It's all systems go for Rubiks this week in the lead up to Imaginarium! We had the first rehearsal for the title work of this concert on Monday night, our featured composer Marcus Fjellström arrives in the country tomorrow night, and we'll be all over your radio stations this weekend with Tamara on 3MBS' Australian Sounds on Friday night and Marcus, Jacob and myself on PBS' The Sound Barrier on Sunday. Phew!

I've been reworking Marcus' beautiful work Alchemist Dances in preparation for next week. This piece received its Australian premiere in my final ANAM recital last year, and it's such a joy to revisit. Marcus' work is incredibly clever in terms of how he connects the performer with the electronics. In my experience to date, working with a taped electronic part has often meant working with a click track to make sure things are lining up as the composer intended. This works really effectively but can sometimes feel quite odd as a performer. The focus on the click track can translate into performances that are somewhat inward, and it's easy for a sense of disconnect to creep in if you're working with other performers.

Marcus has managed to avoid using clicktracks in his work by embracing some different ideas, which I've found really effective. In some of his pieces, Marcus builds important rhythmic cues into the electronic part in the form of crackles and pops. In other works he uses a visual metronome, in the form of a screen that sits in front of the performer and flashes beats and bar numbers to synchronise the live performance with the fixed electronic track. When you're working with a click track, the electronics and that ticking beat in your ear are always competing for your attention, but what I find really exciting about Marcus' methods is that there's no aural distraction. It's quite freeing as a performer to not be tied to those headphones, both in terms of movement and being able to hear the full effect of the piece!

I'll leave you today with a recording of Alchemist Dances as a hint of what's to come next week. The piece also features Marcus' animations, but you'll have to come along to the concert see them in action!

What's next?  

  • Imaginarium! It's next week! It's going to be awesome... and it's free! It doesn't get better than that!
  • Some big announcements about Sounds Unheard activities for Term 2, coming soon.
  • A whole lot of music-related reading! I'm currently working on Carrie Brownstein's excellent memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, John Cage's classic Silence and  Alex Ross' must-read Listen to This. I'm really enjoying ticking these off my reading list - there's a whole lot of inspiration in these pages!