Monday, November 29, 2004

New week, new chapter

The Matrouz concert on Saturday night was a great success, with a standing ovation at the end. I was a silent observer at the recording session last Friday of the Tank Stream Quartet at the ABC and learned a lot hearing them in action in this setting. At this very moment my piano is being tuned and as soon as it is finished I will begin the string quartet commission for Tank Stream. I try and have a freshly-tuned piano as an added ingredient to open up inspiration at key junctures such as this.

Starter's Gun

After fearing a troublesome start the first minute of the string quartet seems to have been sketched today (unless I end up throwing it away!). Very dramatic opening with big quadruple stop arpeggios underpinning a soaring melody of huge range. Not a little Russian actually. Let's see where it goes . . .

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Sydney folk, don't forget the Matrouz concert this Saturday night November 27 at Pitt Street Uniting Church.

Tank Stream Quartet

Well, I have looked at/listened to all the 33 string quartets below plus some extras when I heard Sibelius and Carl Nielsen string quartet music in the recital I attended by the Tank Stream Quartet in Sydney on Tuesday night that was broadcast live nationally on ABC Classic FM. It was wonderful to be there and the quartet played so well, an almost magical precision in their ensemble interplay, some deeply affecting dolce sounds and brilliantly deft fast passage work. Damian Beaumont, the ABC announcer, asked me live on national radio if on the strength of what I heard was I going home to immediately start the commission for them. Taking a bit of poetic license in the ebullient spirit of the moment I said "Absolutely" but in truth there is a few days gap as I'll start work on it this Monday November 29. In the meantime I will sit in on some of their CD recording sessions for ABC Classics.

Friday, November 12, 2004

String quartet study

Having completed the jazz piano trio composing commission I am embarking on a two-week self-study period with the aim of immersing myself deeply in the string quartet tradition before I begin my string quartet commission. I'm very excited at the recordings and scores I have assembled on my table for study. I will be looking at:

Bartok, the six string quartets
Berg, Lyric Suite & the Op3 Quartet
Beethoven, the late string quartets and the Grosse Fugue
Janacek, the two string quartets
Ravel, string quartet
Debussy, string quartet
Shostakovich, the 15 string quartets
This collection of 33 quartets probably represents the pinnacle achievements of the string quartets composed over the 150-year period between 1825 (Beethoven Op127) and 1974 (Shostakovich Quartet No 15). Though Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Schoenberg and Webern are major omissions I'm letting Berg cover the Second Viennese angle and late Beethoven the First Viennese, it's enough for now! For similar reasons I won't be revisiting the late 20th century modernists like Elliot Carter, Ligeti, Penderecki etc.

Following these studies I will have the chance to hear the wonderful Tank Stream Quartet live in concert in Sydney (and perhaps in the studio during their recording sessions) before beginning to write for them.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Matrouz on the ABC and in concert

Last night the Matrouz team (as above) pre-recorded a one-hour performance/interview segment for the ABC Radio, to be broadcast nationally on Sunday night November 21 on the "Sunday Nights with John Cleary" program which goes from 10pm-2am (I think we're on at 11pm). I contributed a piano improvisation in the lovely Eugene Goossens Hall at the ABC Ultimo Centre. This is a very beautiful team making some gorgeous sounds, the concert is Saturday November 27 at Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney at 7:30pm. Further details contact Nurit Ophir on 0422 558 473

Monday, November 08, 2004

Jazz trio commission, and then . .

Started work today on a commissioned piece for jazz piano trio. The commission originated from drummer Paul Joseph who with Australia Council support is commissioning five Sydney-based jazz pianists to write pieces to be eventually recorded for CD. Once this is completed I will begin the research and composing of my string quartet commission.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Last Friday night at the Side-On with my trio plus vocalist Elana Stone was a great success witnessed by a capacity crowd (some people wanting to book tables had to be turned away) including a few VIPs like artistic director of the Sydney Dance Company Graeme Murphy, journalist Richard Neville and broadcaster, journalist and composer Andrew Ford.