Completed a new set of 7 works for boys and male changing voice choirs with solo instrument accompaniments.
Presentation at the World Music Forum, International Music Council, Brisbane
Japan Choral Association National Competition Finals Adjudication – Cheba, Japan
IFCM Executive Committee Meetings – Tokyo, Japan
Opening of St Peters Lutheran College Performing Arts Centre – Brisbane
Rehearsals and Workshops – Goulburn Regional Conservatorium, Goulburn
Asia Pacific Choral Summit – Kuala Lumpur
Goulburn Regional Conservatorium rehearsals
Australian Society for Music Education Conference, Canberra
Touring with Shanghai Youth Choir in Russia and Poland
Guest Conductor Taiwan Youth Festival Choir – rehearsing and performing 4 concerts throughout Taiwan
Australian APRA – AMC 2013 ART MUSIC AWARDS
VOCAL/CHORAL WORK OF THE YEAR – Stephen Leek for Heritage in Song (now known as “Songs of our Journey”)
Rehearsals with Shanghai Youth Choir and Shanghai Boys Choir, Shanghai
Concerts in Shanghai with Shanghai Youth Choir and Shanghai Boys Choir
Rehearsals with Shanghai Youth Choir and Shanghai Boys Choir, Shanghai, China
Rehearsals, Concert and Recording with Key Changers Young Men’s Choir
Adjudicator Armidale Eisteddfod
Rehearsals, Concert and Recording with Key Changers Young Men’s Choir
Completed commission of a major work “Oratorio” for Goulburn Regional Conservatorium
Workshop Choral Weavers, Surfers Paradise, QLD
Artistic Directors Meetings, Shanghai Youth Choir, Shanghai, China
Rehearsals, Concert and Recording with Key Changers Young Men’s Choir
Commenced commission of a major work “Oratorio” for Goulburn Regional Conservatorium
IFCM meetings in Dallas, Texas, USA
American Choral Directors Association National Conference, Dallas, Texas, USA
Rehearsals, Concert and Recording with Key Changers Young Men’s Choir
Director of Masters Choral Conducting Course, Melbourne Conservatorium, VIC
The year is racing already and again I am on the move. After a very successful Gondwana Young Composers School and Gondwana National Choral School in January, I have been again working on several concerts and events with my friends in Shanghai, and then back in Australia I have started one very large composition project with my the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium for later in the year. In between this I have been working with the young men of the Key Changers to get them started for another exciting year (see Gallery for pics) and it is great to welcome some new singers who have recently discovered their new voices. It has been a busy time of preparation for the IFCM because on Saturday I fly to Texas for the IFCM board meetings and General Assembly, followed by attendance at the ACDA National Conference… it should be an exciting and hectic time, but hopefully it will put me in touch with more choristers who enjoy singing my music. More later….
November News, 2012
It seems like I have spent the last few months on the road, in airports and planes. I am currently once again in, what feels like my second home, Shanghai, to work with my friends and the great singers of the Shanghai Youth Choir and also the Shanghai Boys Choir, with whom I am Artistic Director. It is always a pleasure to return to work with these talented and passionate singers. Together we are working toward our next concert in December and for further events in 2013.
After our very successful first concert together some months ago, the Shanghai Youth Choir continues to develop and grow through the new repertoire that I am throwing at them… and I too am continually challenged through the Chinese repertoire that their artistic team throws at me. In the last part of the year the SYC performed many new works from abroad including my Goolay-yali, Yaraandoo and a newly commissioned work, Pacific Paradise. We are currently rehearsing Currawong Dreaming and Ngana and, White Horses with the Boys choir along with many other exciting works from around the world.
Next week, as part of my role here in Shanghai, I will be conducting a series of choral conducting masterclasses for choral directors and music teachers of the Shanghai region. Language and communication is always a challenge here, so hopefully I will be able to convey some points of interest to them in the sessions through my actions…. and my translator.
The last few months have really busy requiring much travel throughout the world. Everywhere I have been, I have met wonderful people who are passionate and committed to choral music, and heard choirs of every shape and size who all strive for the same things within their Art – what a wonderful choral world we live in. My work has taken me to events in Italy, the USA, Korea, Hong Kong, France and in other parts of China. Highlights have included working at the Cembra Music Festival, Italy, the Polyfollia Music Festival, Normandy, France, The Musica Fabrique Festivale, Milan, Italy, the Golden Gate International Choral Festival, San Francisco, USA, and The World Choral Summit, Beijing, China. Thank you to all my hosts for making my visits such memorable events.
Next week I travel back to Taiwan once again to work with my good friends at the Taipei Male Choir. I will rehearse and conduct a performance in the Taipei National Concert Hall of a new work Deep Water that I wrote for them earlier in the year. I will also work with several groups of choral directors throughout Taiwan in a series of workshops and masterclasses.
In between these, sometimes extended, international visits I have made brief trips back to Australia to work with my colleagues at the Gondwana Choirs on various projects, to rehearse my boys choir, The Key Changers….and to do my washing.
In August I worked on a remarkable (and very big) project titled Heritage in Song with Lyn Williams and the Sydney Children’s Choir, and The Key Changers. This new multi-media theatrical work made up of 6 smaller pieces coupled with images and other multi-media elements. This was an amazing performance that unfortunately was only able to performed once in the Angel Place Recital Hall, Sydney – but the result is a legacy of several new pieces for treble and changing voice choirs which would be suited to individual performances. These include Captain Thunderbolt, Knowledge of the Stars, Christmas Gift, Hey Nonna! and, The Bridge. Check them all out on my website.
So, over Christmas I will be back in Shanghai (they don’t celebrate Christmas in China) and then back in Australia for the Gondwana National Choral School in January, where I will be conducting the Gondwana Singers and Directing the Gondwana International Young Choral Composers School….exciting times.
My work as a Vice President of the IFCM (International Federation for Choral Music – a project of UNESCO) also keeps me busy around the globe. I am involved in a number of important projects that I know will have significant impact on the global perception of our choral Art in the future. One of these projects is to oversee the rebranding of the IFCM, giving it a facelift and a whole new appearance to the world. Another project is to co-ordinate a team to rebuild and redesign the IFCM website… all demanding tasks, but I am enjoying the challenges that are being thrown up in the process.
China CWI Children’s Palace Choir, Shanghai, China
This week I started a twelve-month relationship as Artistic Consultant to the CWI Children’s Palace Choir in Shanghai, China. Over the next year I will make 5 extended visits to China to work with the main choir of the Children’s Palace, aged 10 – 16, with the boys choir aged 7 – 13, and to work with the staff of the Children’s Palace in professional development, and also with music teachers and choral directors of Shanghai in a series of choral workshops and conducting master-classes.
The first task I have been asked to do is to assist the staff in programing, preparing and performing two important concerts in August. These concerts will include lots of music new to China, which will help to expand the colour palette of the choir and to offer exposure to new musical concepts from The West. Of course they will be singing quite a lot of exciting music from Australia and beyond…. And, I am trying to write them a new piece to premiere at the start of these concerts… in my spare time.
If you go to my website you can see some great photos of these great kids. Working with such talented, enthusiastic and motivated singers is such a pleasure – it hardly seems like work at all! Communication can be an issue at times, though most of the kids speak some English. I don’t have any Chinese – we can communicate quite well in rehearsal on musical and artistic matters, but the part I really miss the most is being able to share a good joke with the kids so that we can all laugh together.
In March I also spent time working with two great Australian choirs who will be heading off to the World Choir Games in Cincinnatti, USA, later in the year. The Bendigo Youth Choir, conducted by the indefatigable Valerie Broad, made a nice rich sound and displayed to me the qualities for which they are known in Australian choral music circles. I am sure they will sing very well on their tour.
I also spent a weekend working with my friend and colleague Kim Sutherland and The Hunter Singers at the Myoona Bay campsite on the New South Wales central coast– what a nice part of the world it is! Together we worked on many works that exploited this great choir’s strengths and built on the few areas needing attention. Amongst the many Australian works they will be taking to America, is my “Kungala” which they will sing at this big competition. I am sure they will sing it very well and fill the hall with the exciting energy of Australian choral music.
I wish both these choirs every success at this big choral event, …. but more so, I hope that all the singers have a very enjoyable journey and interesting artistic and cultural exchange, and they are able to take advantage of the overwhelming hospitality and friendship that I have enjoyed over the years from our American choral colleagues.
While I was in Newcastle I was able to spend a week working with Kim Sutherland at Merewether High School. Here I was working with a mixture of music classes on choral and compositional themes and also with the school choir. I found the young people here in this incredibly under-resourced suburban school unusually motivated and engaged – and courteous. What a treat. Thanks for a great week Kim and kids.
Time passes so quickly these days, and it came as a shock for me to return to work with my friends at the Eltham East Primary School Choir, and to realize that it had been two and a half years since last working with these great kids. The last time I had the opportunity to work with these 9 -11 year olds was when they came to Brisbane in 2009, and made a special appearance at my farewell concert with the Australian Voices. They wowed the audiences then with their brilliance, control and beautiful choral sound, and continue to do so under the extraordinary direction of my good friend and their wonderful conductor, Anne Williams. After working on a regular basis with Anne and this group since 1996, not working with them for 3 calendar school years meant that there were no singers in the choir that knew me or had worked with me before. I had indeed worked with their brothers and sisters (and in a few cases their parents) before, but this was our first time together. This has to be one of the most fabulous children’s choirs in Australia. These kids responded instantly to every instruction and approached each new challenge with enthusiasm and skill…. it was a real joy. I hope it is not another 2 years before I have the chance to work with Anne and the kids again.
On a very sad note: I recently heard the shocking news that a former EEPS singer who, now, at the age of 24, was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident. If you know the recordings of my works for young singers, Oliver was the brilliant young man that wrote, and then spoke, the narration at the beginning and throughout the recording of my work “Batavia”. I had the privilege of getting to know Olli through our work together when he was 10/11/12/13, and found him to be an extraordinarily gifted person of the highest goals and integrity even then. Although wheelchair-bound at the end of his life due his on-going struggle with health issues, Oliver went on to become a student of politics, actor, songwriter and performer. He was passionate about his causes and became an activist willing to stand up for what he thought was right. He was well known in Melbourne for his protest rap-song performances… and for chaining himself and his wheelchair to tractors, trees and other obstructions. I think I said it then, and I will say it again now, that I think Olli would have made a wonderful Prime Minister – honest, intelligent and passionate – things which are generally lacking in all our politicians these days. RIP Oliver Butterfield – you will live on in our hearts and memories… and through your words and voice every time we hear “Batavia”.
IFCM – Japan ExCom meetings
As busy as ever, the IFCM continues to grow from strength to strength as we prepare many interesting choral projects around the world. In April my quick trip to the Executive Committee meetings in Japan, proved extremely productive and inspiring. I am so honored to be working within a great team of people in the IFCM who are passionate and motivated to try and make a difference in our “choral world”. I know this sounds like a slogan, but as Team Leader in Communications, one of my assignments is to build an awareness of the great work that the IFCM is doing through promotions and by communicating our projects to the global choral community. It was a great opportunity whilst in Tokyo to have lunch with my old friend and once young Sydney Childrens Choir singer, Jonathan Field, who now lives and works in Tokyo.
I have been working on the IFCMeNEWS (which I created) now for 6 months, and already the difference can be felt across the world of choral singers once again recognizing the place and importance of what the IFCM does. And I have also been working on a new electronic presentation about the IFCM which will be available on the website soon. We are all gearing ourselves up for the World Choral Summit in Beijing in July, so there is much to be done in bringing such an important international event to China for the first time. My colleague Leon Tong has worked so hard and tirelessly over this one project for many years now and I am sure it will be an interesting and significant milestone for international choral relations.
Perhaps one of the most exciting pieces of news from the IFCM in May is the launching of the IFCM 2ndInternational Competition for Choral Compositions, which along with many favorable outcomes, comes with a sizable cash prize of 5,000 euros! WOW. The competition is open to any aged composer, from any country but the work must be for SATB acappella choir and with a few other conditions that need to be adhered to so that the award winning work can be premiered next year by the fabulous Philippine Madrigal Singers, and performed by other leading international choirs. If you know someone who should submit a work, please pass the flyer on.
If you are not yet a member of the IFCM, and if you are at all involved or interested in choral music, you should be! For a very reasonable annual subscription fee there are many, many benefits to being connected with a global organization that supports and nurture what we love so much – choral singing. Check out the IFCM website for more information. www.ifcm.net
“Key Changers” rehearsals – The newly formed boys choir of the Sydney Children’s Choir is going from strength to strength. All of the current singers have grown up through the SCC network and have some great choral skills and some beautiful developing male voices. Over the coming weeks when I will be travelling I am very thankful to Sam Allchurch for taking the rehearsals for me. Sam now in his 20s grew up in the SCC and Gondwana choirs and since graduating from the University of Melbourne is helping out in the Gondwana Choirs office (and in the rehearsal room) before he heads off to Cambridge, UK later in the year to take a full scholarship to continue his post-graduate studies. It is so satisfying to see such young people do so well through the musical experiences of the childhood and youth, and it continually reminds me of the advantages of a strong and creative musical upbringing.
I have been working on the Sydney Childrens Choir project “Heritage in Song” and it is shaping up to be another great event for the SCC.
As a result of the various things I have been doing there are some new works and some more voicings of older pieces now available. As always, photocopying licences are only available from me via this email address or over my website. Please contact me if you have any questions.
New or revoiced works
Black, Black for TTBB a cappella
Country Kids for SSAA acappella for Alpha Gregory and the Woden Valley Youth Choir
Heritage in Song (5 works) is in progress for the Sydney Childrens Choir based on the heritage stories of several of the singers in the choir. The first performance will be in September 2012
Leave her, Johnny for SAB and piano
Molonglo Autumn for baritone and piano
Razerback Summer for baritone and piano
New publishing arrangements – STEPHEN LEEK MUSIC
The BIG news for me in 2012 is that, after 10 years of waiting, I now have all the copyrights of my works (with only 2 exceptions) returned to me as sole publisher. This means that I can now sell all but 2 of my works to you over the internet via licence. You will still be able to buy some hard copies of my scores from Morton Music but this will cease as stocks diminish over time, but as always, you can get my music directly from me via my website.
Purchasing a licence to make the copies of my music that you need from my website makes your life much easier, cheaper and the delivery of scores much, much faster. If I am sitting at my computer when you send in your order you can sometimes have it within minutes ready to rehearse with your choir within the hour…. anywhere in the world! (I have already surprised some of my international colleagues around the world with this astounding efficiency!)
If you, like me, leave your music programming until the last minute, then this system is designed specifically for you.
I am constantly working on my website so, please return often and check out what is new. You can still see complete scores and hear samples, and find out more about what I am doing now and have done in the past…. And check out the latest pics.
I am also on Facebook.
Gondwana National Choral Composers School 2012
Over January each year, the brightest and best young composers from around Australia gather at the Gondwana National Choral Composers School. As Director, this year I was instructing 16 young musicians on the Art of writing for the choral medium and, over 9 days, together we explored the voice and choral composition before creating exciting new works every day which were read and workshopped with one or more of the excellent Gondwana Choirs groups. A very special thank you goes to our special guest – Composer, Broadcaster, Author, Commentator, Andrew Ford, who gave us some of his very useful tips and insights into composition and music-making. Andy made everyone feel that they were important, we are all part of a very large family, and we are all in this together. Thank you Patrick, Erin, Georgina, Elicia, Alice, Hannah, Kate, Campbell, Stella, Ben, Alex, Kathleen, Sam, Enrica, Kezia and Elizabeth, for making my task so easy and such fun. There will be many names here that you will hear again in the future, so watch out – they are the future of choral composition in this country and I wish each of them well on their individual journeys of discovery.
The Gondwana National Choral School – The Gondwana Singers
The annual Gondwana National Choral School brings over 300 young musicians from around Australia together to work with the leading choral experts of this country in an intensive two week event of choral work, music-making, socialising and fun. This years’ School was no exception. After directing the Gondwana National Choral Composers School in the first week I was able to join my colleagues Dan Walker, Sally Whitwell and Sam Allchurch in the second week to work with the fabulous young choristers of “The Singers” – a mixed voices choir of 74 teenagers (13 – 16 years) who had come together from every corner of our vast continent.
Battling the heat, rain, the mud, the bellowing of highly inefficient air-conditioners, and the continuous drum of diggers and tractors from the construction site next door, we sweated and worked hard together on a varied and exciting choral repertoire. In order to develop the changing young voices into a glorious balanced and beautiful choral sound we all had to rise to the challenge. Only through much demanding and consistent work were we able to realise the passions, emotions, styles of the repertoire, and intentions of the composers, and through our magnificent musicianship convey that to our audience in the final concert. I was very proud of the way all 74 singers rose to the significant challenges that Dan, Sam and I placed in front of them. I was very proud of the way no-one gave up when the going got tough, and the way ”the Singers” proved the sceptics wrong who thought we could not achieve the amazing results that we did. Congratulations team,…. I always knew you could do it!
Sydney Children’s Choir – NEW Boys Choir
In February I have been invited by my friend, colleague and Artistic Director and founder of the Sydney Children’s Choir, Lyn Williams, to form a boys choir under the SCC umbrella to cater specifically for male changing voices. The Sydney Children’s Choir and I have a very long history together, so it will be nice to go back and work with the boys who, due to their changing vocal status, have found it difficult fitting into the many groups which currently cater for musical skills development in 5 to 16 years olds. The Sydney Children’s Choirs is part of the larger Gondwana Choirs umbrella and based in central Sydney, but with programs into western and northern Sydney. I am looking forward to making some great music with these young lads and help them to stay involved in choral singing and music in a difficult time of their lives. If you know of any teenaged boy whose voice is “on the move”, who would like to become a member of this new ensemble, please contact Jocelyn at the Gondwana Choirs office. www.gondwana.choir.com.au or me.
One of my many new tasks as Vice President of the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM) is the monthly preparation of the IFCM eNEWS which goes out to members across the globe on the first day of each month. I am enjoying the challenge of putting this simple, easy to read and easy to absorb newsletter together. Meeting the deadlines that arise with surprising and alarming regularity is always interesting but, as you know, I always rise to a challenge. The IFCM eNEWS is now translated into 12 different languages and I am very thankful to my team of international colleagues who assist greatly in this. If you have not seen it yet and/or do not get it and would like to keep abreast of the choral world, email me or visit the IFCM website www.ifcm.net, or better still, become an individual member of the IFCM.
Commission for the award winning Taipei Male Choir – “Deep Water” TTBB acappella choir (completed in Jan 2012 – available for general sales in 2013)Commission for the PLC Croydon – “High Tide” treble choir and orchestra (completed in December 2011 – available for general sales in July 2011)
Guangzhou Childrens Palace Choir successful in Tolosa
Congratulations go to my friends at the Guangzhou Childrens Palace Choir in China, who I have been working with over the past months, for their winning of Grand Prix in Childrens Choir at the prestigeous Tolosa International Choral Competition in Spain recently. I am pleased to say that they had their great success singing the newly commissioned work which I wrote for them titled “Impossible Birds”. Better than winning the competition is the way these young singers committed to achieving their best during the difficult process of learning this extremely difficult piece (perhaps the most difficult I have written for young voices) and the pride that they take in their choral music. I am certainly very proud of you all and your achievements.
The first edition of the IFCMeNEWS came out in October. This is a project I have been working on and editing for the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM) to aid communication between the IFCM and its’ membership around the world. It is an exciting challenge to work with my choral colleagues across the globe to compile an up-to-date account of major international activities, but I am enjoying the important task for this important organisation. Now that I am Vice President of the IFCM I have had to step up to the plate. If you would like to receive of copy of this monthly newsletter you can either become an individual member of the International Federation for Choral Music (preferred option www.ifcm.net) or you can request a copy from me.
Ko Matsushita and Vox Gaudiosa (Japan)
Congratulations to Japanese composer, conductor, and my very good friend, Ko Matsushita and his choir, Vox Gaudiosa (also from Japan), for their Grand Prix winning performances recently in the Arezzo International Choral Competition, Italy. I am very proud that they were awarded such a prestigious honour performing one of my more recent choral works “Knowee”. I look forward to hearing them perform it in Australia some day!!! (Hint, hint!)
Jirisan Sunrise Premiere
Despite a few hiccups which included didgeridoos being flown to wrong destinations, missing performers and forgotten music, the performance of my new work for didgeridoo, typyongso, SATB choir and orchestra had a spectacular premiere in the Concert Hall of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre on my birthday, October 8. The capacity audience seemed to enjoy the wonderful playing of William Barton (didgeridoo) and the raucous but masterful sounds of the virtuoso Korean typyongso player who was especially flown into Australia for the occasion.
My wonderful friends of the St Peters Chorale were joined by the Queensland Korean Orchestra and the newly formed Brisbane Korean Choir, to give a beautiful rendition of the work capturing the colours and excitement of the sun rising magically over Jirisan Mountain – one of Korea’s most sacred places. Thank you to everyone involved in this massive undertaking and thank you especially Lesley Synge whose text provided me with glorious images, inspiration and energy. Hopefully something will come out on Youtube soon.
Gondwana Auditions and Gondwana Young Composers School
It is always so encouraging to see how many young musicians are interested in writing choral music and this month I have begun sifting through the applications to the Gondwana Young Choral Composers School in January 2012. It looks like it is going to be another very exciting year of young composers. There are still a couple of places open for the Young Composers School, so if you know anyone between the ages of 15 and 22 please contact me or the Gondwana office as soon as possible.
This month the team at Gondwana Choirs began the long process of auditioning 100’s of young singers throughout Australia. Artistic Director Lyn Williams travelled thousands of kilometres in the past weeks to seek out the best young choristers from around the country in order to bring them together in January for the Gondwana Choral School. I was involved in the auditions in Sydney and Armidale and it is so encouraging to see so many talented young people excited and motivated by choral singing.
South Gippsland Sings
South Gippsland in Eastern Victoria is one of those unspoiled magical destinations where the ocean melts into the lush rolling hills. The olive groves and vineyards co-habit the green fields easily with dairy cows and horses. Many of the locals, whose grand designed houses dot the landscape, have escaped the big smoke of the city for a much more relaxed and creative lifestyle. The sense of community in the numerous small towns is palpable.
So, this was where I spent one of my recent weekends….with five local choirs in the land of “The Prom” (Wilson’s Promontory). Sing South Gippsland was a wonderful event staged by Paddy Broberg and a most energetic and enthusiastic team from the Prom Coast Singers. For two days the choirs from the region shared with me in workshops, concerts, meals and socialising. What a pleasure it was to have the opportunity to work with five great and very different choirs of such enthusiasm, all eager to discover more about their choral art.
This event marked Paddy’s retirement from working with the Prom Coast Singers after many, many years of wonderful work. I know we all wish Paddy the very best for the future. I must send very big thank you to Andrew and Lyn for your wonderful hospitality on your beautiful property. Thank you also to all the participants for your generous and warm friendship, and of course, your enthusiastic choral singing. I hope I can return again someday soon.
WORLD SYMPOSIUM ON CHORAL MUSIC #9
I returned home last week from the World Symposium on Choral Music#9 in Argentina… a mammoth trek that took over two days… a 20 hour bus trip, 2 taxis, 2 planes, 2 trains and a boat ride to finally arrive home. The WSCM#9 was held in Puerto Madryn (which is about 1300 kms south of Buenos Aires) and proved to be an interesting and often challenging event and, for those that survived the arduous 20 hour bus ride (thanks to the volcanic ash in Chilli), were determined to make the most of the music, the choral camaraderie and the stunning and life-changing visions of hundreds of whales mating – literally on our doorstep.
The WSCM#9 was the first ever to be held in South America and it was a thrill to see just how many choral musicians (young and more experienced musicians) from this part of the world, took the opportunity to make the most of the international and local choral and musical events on offer. The pace of work and life in Patagonia is not necessarily the same as that in other parts of the world and this proved a little frustrating at times for the delegates and presenters. Anyone who went to Patagonia expecting the grand Opera House of Copenhagen or the Sydney Opera House was fooling themselves from the outset. In the end, most things were sorted and eventually everyone got into the full swing of this important, yet unusual, international event. It was great to experience the music-making or South America and make many new friends in that part of the world – certainly a world symposium like no other!
The many performing ensembles from throughout the world who ‘braved the journey’, performed well under often testing circumstances and in mostly unsympathetic venues, but I am sure that everyone left Patagonia with strong images, new friends, and many good memories. A motto we have in Australia is “when the going gets tough, the tough get going!” and I think this needs to be applied to all those who participated in the end. Congratulations to all performing group and participants. Despite the many highs, I think though, that everyone is looking forward with great anticipation to the WSCM#10 to be held in Seoul, Korea in 2014. I hope I will see you there!
“Keeping It Spicey” – Presentation at the World Symposium on Choral Music – Argentina 2011
If you would like to see an ABSTRACT of this presentation please visit the media section of my website. If you would like a full transcript of the presentation please email me and place Keeping it Spicy in the subject box.
Sing Together Festival 2011 in Brisbane
Under the umbrella of the St Peters Lutheran College Music Department in Brisbane, recently I was Guest conductor of the Sing Together Festival which targets young singers from Year 5 and 6 in the Brisbane area to share in a day of singing and choral experiences. With 358 young singers champing at the bit we learned 4 songs from scratch on the day of the festival (yes, 2 out of the 4 works were from Australia). We then performed all the works to family and friends that evening – what a challenge, what a triumph! The singers certainly rose to the challenge of learning the works, and along the way we were able to discover some useful things about choral singing together, laugh lots and make some new friends from other schools in our neighbourhoods. Well done kids – you wore me out, but it was fun.
Sydney Eisteddfod Choral Championships
As a member of the adjudication panels for the finals of the Choral Sections of the Sydney Eisteddfod a week or so ago, it was so good to be able to hand over quite sizable cheques of prize money to all the place-getters and to all the competitors who qualified for the finals. It is encouraging to see such concrete financial support going to choirs and choral music for their efforts (let’s hope it is used to buy or commission new Australian choral music). I think the sponsors of the event need to be applauded loudly for their contribution and commitment to the Choral Art. Congratulations to all competitors.
GONDWANA SINGERS @ THE PEMULWUY MALE VOICES FESTIVAL – MAY 20111
I had the great pleasure of being Guest Conductor of the Gondwana Singers boys as they participated in the Pemulwuy Male Voices Festival held in Brisbane over 4 days in May. The Gondwana Singer boys arrived in Brisbane from the four corners of the continent to begin an intensive rehearsal process with me for 2 days before the festival began and before our first performance together. I was very proud of all the boys who, despite the torrential rain and heat, worked extremely hard and gave their all to the music I had selected. In our performance on the first night of the Festival the boys did Gondwana proud by offering a performance of exceptional musicianship and artistry. Thank you Alec, Clayton, Jerome, John, Toby, Jon, Harry, Jeremy, Tim, Eddie, Alex, Jono, Oscar, Patrick, Tom, Abhi and Max for your commitment and hard work.
GONDWANA CHORAL AMBASSADOR
This month I have been very humbled to accept the honorary position of Gondwana Choral Ambassador to work alongside the wonderful Gondwana team. It is a great opportunity for me to represent in an official capacity an independent organisation that I truly believe is the energy and future of choral music in this country. I hope that I can continue to bring my experience and ideas to this organisation and represent the finest Australian choral music around the world as its representative.
Visit in China
In the past weeks I have been travelling in China with Leon Tong – Vice President of the IFCM, seeking out possibilities and discussing opportunities for future collaborations and connections. It is a very big country and there is a thirst for some of the things we can offer in the choral world. I would be happy to offer contacts and my humble suggestions and thoughts to anyone contemplating a choral visit to China.
Guangzhou Childrens Palace Choir
While in China I had opportunity to work with a wonderful troupe of 40 or so kids whose ages ranged from 10 – 22. In the intense Chinese heat we worked hard on a new (and extremely difficult) concert piece, ‘Impossible Birds’, which I had written for them. They nailed the most difficult technical aspects of the work but there was still more to discover in terms of colour, intonation, shape, energy, phrasing and other concepts. Verbal communication was at first challenging but soon we developed a musical non verbal language that enabled us to work fast and hard, and we were even able to laugh together at the same time. Great kids! I have been invited back to work again in China later in July and am looking forward to seeing my new Chinese friends again and hearing the developments and progress they have made.
‘Jiri San Sunrise’ with texts by Lesley Synge
for the Queensland Korean Orchestra and the St Peters Chorale
I am currently working with Brisbane writer Lesley Synge on the text and music for a new piece titled ‘Jiri San Sunrise’ for SATB choir and orchestra. The work featuring the St Peters Chorale and the Queensland Korean Orchestra, will premiere in the Concert Hall of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre on October 8, in a celebration of Australian / Korean friendship. Watch out for the solo taepyungso (a traditional Korean double-reed trumpet- like instrument) virtuoso who will be coming from Korea for this performance.
ALL SAINTS COLLEGE – PERTH
I have just returned from a wonderful week of workshops and classes at All Saints College in Perth. For five days the many choirs of the school worked with me on developing their choral skills and compositional ideas. I was happy to build on the wonderful foundations already in place there by a very committed music staff. I very much enjoyed being welcomed into the school by staff and students alike, and despite the heat and draining dry of the first few days, I felt we achieved much together. Thank you to Director of Music Anette Kerkovious, Principal Dr. Jeffrey Shaw, the music staff and all the wonderful students aged 6 – 17. Rarely do I go into a school where there is such a great feeling of collegiality and joy in all the arts, and even more rare, a serious focus and absolute commitment to the development of a diverse and innovative Arts program and culture. Congratulations, you certainly did deserve your ABC Flame Award in the recent past.
Whilst in Perth, and under the patronage of All Saints College, I was also able to conduct a free workshop for teachers from the local area. I found this a great opportunity to see new faces, as well as some more familiar ones, and be able to assist those “at the coalface” of music education in their work.
IFCM ASIA PACIFIC CHORAL SUMMIT
I have been reminded again recently just how lucky are we in Australia to be able to practice our choral art freely, without censorship, and able to creatively explore choral music in any direction that we choose? In February I returned from the IFCM Asia / Pacific Choral Summit in Macau where I learnt more about the way other countries do it, and it was an eye-opener. Here is part of my report to IFCM members. I think you will find it of interest.
As a member of the board of the International Federation of Choral Music (IFCM), and on your behalf, I have just returned from participating in the Asia Pacific Choral Summit (APCS) in Macau – a project set up by the IFCM to identify and address choral needs and concerns in our region, and to foster communication and cooperation with our choral neighbours. We had a wonderful opportunity over the weekend to meet and talk with choral representatives from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, The Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, India, New Zealand, Samoa, Thailand, Australia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan, Korea and Malaysia, and to make new choral friends across the sea. The generous and productive discussions I think augur well for the future of choral cooperation in this part of the world.Apart from setting up channels of communication and establishing vital friendships, it was really interesting to share the successes and discuss common issues that we encounter in our own communities. When you hear about the difficulties in some countries of obtaining permits to rehearse and perform choral concerts in some countries, it makes me realise what lucky countries we live in. In one country for example, for each rehearsal and each performance a licence must be sought and obtained from the government. Even casual singing of “unapproved songs” is not permitted – informal gatherings of singers are not permitted (in private homes or in hotels), and all music must be submitted to, and approved by, the authorities before it can be performed in any situation. In another country, concerts are taxed at 25% of the estimated capacity door takings which must be paid before each concert. Despite these draconian restrictions, somehow choral music seems to survive in these countries. There are also many examples of much fine work being done in the choral field in this most heavily populated corner of the globe.
A recurrent issue that emerged from many countries was the need for the development of choral conducting skills through conductor and teacher training. The lack of development of choral composition skills in composers has also resulted in the lack of good repertoire in some countries. These were identified as areas of real need. All of the issues raised were duly noted, discussed, and hopefully, in due course, will be addressed through programs generated through the IFCM Asia Pacific Working Committee (IFCM APWC)– the executive arm voted by the members of the Summit to co-ordinate activities. I was very pleased to nominate Grant Hutchinson from the New Zealand Choral Federation to sit on the IFCM AP Working Committee with representatives from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, The Philippines and China. I know Grant (with our help and support) on this committee will represent and activate exciting projects in our region.
The representative from Samoa at the Summit in the near future will attempt to set up a choral association for the smaller Pacific Island nations. It is hoped that at the next Summit we will have choral representatives from all the countries of the Asia Pacific Region.A major project of the APCS Working Committee was the newly formed AsiaPacific Youth Choir (APYC). During the Summit were able to share in the excitement and excellence of the first performance of this new group and experience first-hand how much the young singers from across the regions gained through sharing choral excellence, creating new choral networks and friends, and being inspired by two world-class conductors from the region. Under the direction of maestros Ms. Saeko Hasegawa from Japan and Mr Jonathan Valesco from The Philippines, in three days of rehearsal the 32 young singers experienced some of the finest choral experiences resulting in an astounding performance to a packed house in Macau.
The Asia Pacific Youth Choir is a project of the IFCM AP Working Committee and an important addition to the projects of this region sponsored and supported by the IFCM. It was a little disappointing to see only one representative singer from New Zealand and none from Australia. The next APYC event will be in Beijing July 2012. I will be working hard to get the information for the 2012 event out to you all as soon as it becomes available, so that we can increase the representation from our Aust/NZ region.A new website for the Asia Pacific Choral Summit is being constructed as we speak, that will be linked into the IFCM website, and also have links into the choral associations and choral websites of the region. This will prove a valuable source of communication and information for us all in the future. In addition there will also be opportunity to promote choral events, festivals and other related materials within the Asia Pacific area and encourage interchange of ideas, events and musical information.
These are exciting times for choral music in the Asia Pacific region and I would encourage you all to become familiar with the activities of the APCS, the IFCM and participate where possible. By encouraging others in your network to become members of the IFCM will ensure that we are able to continue with the projects that the IFCM has initiated into the future. www.ifcm.net
Please contact me directly if you would like to have more information about any of these events, or if you would like to be more active in the region in IFCM / APCS activities.