August planning frenzy

I have a lot of new projects approaching at the moment, in fact, some have already started. So this month is one of intensive planning. Here’s a bit of a rundown of what is percolating in my head at the moment:

Jams

For the MSO I am leading 3 Jams (and a further 2 at the start of September). ‘Jams’ are express music-making workshops on a large scale. They are geared towards all ages – families, really – and all levels of musical ability/experience. They’re a lot of fun to lead, because they are fast-paced and get a lot of people playing music together with very little preamble. I like to give the participants a brief page of musical ideas to work from, so that they have something to take home and revisit at their leisure, so I have been preparing these over the last two days. Tomorrow’s Jam is based around the standard penatonic scale – a Jam on 5 Notes.

String Quartet education project no. 2

At the end of August I am heading back up to the Shoalhaven area to work with the Silvan String Quartet, leading them in a composition project with a youth string orchestra in Picton. We’ll be basing the project on Charleston Noir by Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin. This is the second composition project I have built around a Kats-Chernin work, and I’ll be doing another one in September for the MSO. I have to say, I am really enjoying getting to know her work. Her compositional language is proving a fabulous inspiration for these kinds of projects.

Yesterday I met with the Silvan Quartet for the first time, to talk and play our way through the project as it is planned so far, and to brief them a bit on the kind of collaborative, creative process I use in these kinds of projects.

Uni workshops

I have some very interesting courses to teach at the University this semester, on Arts and Artistry, and Integrated Arts. They are giving me the chance to try out some new workshop ideas. I’m still to put together my plan for the former, but for the latter I am going to build a composition workshop around visual art – abstract art in particular. I’ve been searching for images I like… have started with Mondrian but moved onto Russian abstract artists like Malevich and Rozanova. I want the students to treat the images as graphic scores, and focus on the painters’ use of colour (tone colour) and rhythm, in building their compositions.

rozanova_colorconstruction


Geelong Secondary Schools workshop tour

Then, in the first week of September I am spending a week in the Geelong area (regional city very close to Melbourne), doing a series of four one-day composition workshops. I start this tour the day after I get back from Shoalhaven! I’m not sure how much information I’ll be able to get about the participants beforehand, in terms of what their musical backgrounds are, or what they hope to get from their participation in the projects with me, therefore I am putting together a number of different ideas, that I hope will fit a big range of scenarios. It will be a full week, but a lot of fun, I hope. The day after I get back from Geelong, it is straight to Federation Square in central Melbourne for two more MSO Jams… how’s that for an intense series of projects and requisite brain shifts!

Research report

I’ve been invited by ArtPlay to write a detailed report on the history of the MSO ArtPlay Ensemble, focusing on the pedagogy and learning model I’ve developed over the years, and the detail of all the different projects we have done, since the composition I was commissioned to write for the official opening of ArtPlay back in 2004. This is proving to be a very satisfying project to work on, and I am putting it together little by little, with a draft due at the end of this week.

Looking forward to September, I hope to complete two more papers based on my Masters research, as there are a couple of conferences coming up that I would like to participate in. So I’ll hopefully start making some notes towards these over the next few weeks too.

It’s a busy month, that’s for sure. But with the thesis out of the way for a bit (the marking process takes at least four months, so it is well and truly out of my head for the next little while) I’m enjoying handing that brain space over to some new things. And I love the range of freelance work that is coming in to me – I find it really stimulating.

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