Australian Composition for Baroque Instruments: Exploring the Importance of Composer-Performer Collaborative Relationships in Twenty-first-Century Composition
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Australian new music (contemporary art music) is a rich set of aesthetics covering virtually every aspect of Western and non-Western musical history. Each of the authors of this chapter is an active interpreter or creator of new art music, with unique practices situated in both Australian contemporary music and a greater global musical culture. By examining the authors’ artistic practices, we can understand how collaborative relationships result in new works that drive aesthetic trends within the scope of contemporary art music. This chapter looks specifically at collaborations the authors have been involved in, rather than the history of collaboration in the development of Australian music. It adds to earlier discourse on collaboration including Roche,1 Lim,2 Arditti,3 and Kanga,4 and contributes a new, composer-and-performer perspective on how collaboration drives the development of new aesthetics in Australia through the development of idiomatic compositional and performative musical languages, based on the lived experiences of the authors. Vincent Giles (b. 1985, Australia) is a composer whose practice is interdisciplinary. His work engages not only with acoustic and electronic mediums, but with the sciences, both materially and methodologically. The resultant aesthetics are varied and sit within what may be called the second modernity (see below for definition). Elizabeth Welsh (b. 1983, Australia) is an Australian performer whose main instruments are the violin and the baroque violin. Her artistic practice encompasses both early and contemporary music, through performance with leading Australian Historically Informed early music Performance (HIP) and new music ensembles. Equally at home in the Orchestra of the Antipodes or ELISION ensemble, Welsh’s practice increasingly involves merging the old with the new by commissioning new works for the baroque violin and using the instrument in experimental improvisation. This has led to the generation of many new Australian works for baroque violin5 and the development of valuable collaborative composer/performer relationships. In this chapter, the relationship between composer and performer will be examined in two ways. First, through an overview of Graeme Jennings’ (b. 1968, Australia) career as a globally recognised interpreter of new works and the various types of relationships he has built with leading composers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, particularly through his work with the Arditti Quartet, and ELISION. Secondly, by looking at Giles’ 2014-16 work, silver as catalyst in organic reactions6 (hereafter referred to as SCOR), composed for Welsh. The development of SCOR acts as a case study for describing emergent aesthetics in contemporary music for baroque instruments within the Australian contemporary music landscape that are distinct from the HIP that dominates the use of period instruments.
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