summer / summer
(2017) for saxophone, two voices, and ensemble: 18.104.22.168 - 1.1.1 - perc. - vib. - mar. - piano - alto sax. - 2 sopranos - 3 vln. 2 vla. 2 vlc. 1 cb.
(2016) for chamber orchestra: 22.214.171.124 - 126.96.36.199 - timp. - vib. - harp - piano - 4 vln. 2 vla. 2 vlc. 1 cb.
Air & Fantasy
(2016) for string orchestra
(2016) for solo clarinet and orchestra: 188.8.131.52 – 3.2. – timp. – solo clarinet– strings
Violin Concerto No. 1
(2015) for solo violin and orchestra: 184.108.40.206 – 1.1 – marimba – piano – solo violin – strings
Chamber Symphony No. 1
(2015) 1.*1 (c.a).1.1 – 220.127.116.11 – mar. – harp – piano – 18.104.22.168.1
(2016) for three guitars
(2016) for marimba and violoncello
(2016) trio for guitar, violin, and violoncello
(2016) duet for flute and viol
Music for Large Spaces
(2016) for two pianos
co-written with Ben Heim
(2016) for string quartet
(2015) duet for flute and clarinet
co-written with Ben Heim
String Quartet No. 2 in E minor
(2015) WINNER – Australian New Works Award 2015
Dominus Illuminatio Mea – psalm 27
(2015) for SSATBB and string quartet
(2015) fanfare for brass, for two trumpets, two horns and trombone
Piano Quartet in B
A bit of a sneak peak at some new works and commissions on the horizon . . .
Melbourne based trio PLEXUS, Monica Curro, Philip Arkianstall and Stefan Cassomenos, have commission a trio for violin, clarinet and piano, to be performed in their 2018 concert season.
too, the moon
I am currently writing a new for viola and electronics, titled "too, the moon". Commissioned by friend and talented violist Kieran Welch, the work will be premiered in July in Sydney in a concert collaboration between Ensemble Offspring and the Backstage Music Project.
Katie Noonan and the Australian String Quartet
I've been commissioned to write a new piece of Katie Noonan's upcoming album with the Australian String Quartet, presenting setting by Austrlaian composers of the celebrated indigenous poet Oodergoo Noonucal.
Karin Schaup & Claire Edwards
Virtuosi guitar and percussion duo Karin Schaup and Claire Edwards have commissioned a new work for them to take on tour around Australia in 2017.
summer / summer
/for saxophone, two voices, and ensemble/
for Bang On A Can, Summer Music Festival 2017
22.214.171.124 - 1.1.1 - perc. - vib. - mar. - piano - alto sax. - 2 sopranos - 3 vln. 2 vla. 2 vlc. 1 cb.
/for chamber orchestra/
Singular Movement is an exploration of direction and development. Each section of the orchestra is set on its own trajectory – a singular direction and path for the development of its material. For some, it is the slow evolution from sustained drones to sharply agitated rhythm; for others, from back- to foreground; others texture and ephemera to structure. It is a slow, drawn out evolution; there are few points in the work where dramatic change occurs suddenly, however, over it length is traverses vastly contrasting textures and musical ideas.
commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
126.96.36.199 - 188.8.131.52 - timp. - vib. - harp - piano - 4 vln. 2 vla. 2 vlc. 1 cb.
air & fantasy
/for string orchestra/
Air & Fantasy was commissioned by the Camerata of St John's, Queensland's chamber orchestra, to take on their tour of south-west Queensland in August 2016. But first, I had the chance to visit Charleville with their concertmaster, Brendan Joyce.
Have a look at we got up to in this blog...
commissioned by the Camerata – Queensland's Chamber Orchestra, with the support of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation
/for solo clarinet and orchestra/
Small Circles is a single-movement concerto of sorts for clarinet and orchestra. In this, we see the relationship between the soloist and orchestra constantly changing. The usual relationship, of a soloist set against or accompanied by the force of the orchestra, is seen once the work is underway. However, to open we see the soloist as an acrobatic energy cutting across and circling around a more stable orchestral texture building towards an unknown goal. Later, the orchestra moves to a reactionary role as it is displaced by the soloist’s movement, and to end, the soloist provides a layer of delicate filigree as the orchestra takes the foreground, by which it is eventually subsumed.
184.108.40.206 – 3.2. – timp. – solo clarinet– strings
Texture No. 1
Texture No. 1 is the first in an ongoing series of works for orchestra, each an exploration of a single texture.
Dense, vague, murky, voluminous; Layer upon layer of pattern, each obscuring the other; Unfolding, evolving, being shaped throughout.
220.127.116.11 – 18.104.22.168 – vib. – mar. – harp – strings
Violin Concerto No. 1
22.214.171.124 – 1.1 – marimba – piano – solo violin – strings
Chamber Symphony No. 1
In 2015 I was invited to write a new work to be performed by the tutors of the Australian Youth Orchestra conducted by James Judd AM.
Chamber Symphony No. 1 represents a foray into textural orchestration, exploring the vast pallet of timbral colours this ensemble of soloists is capable of: subtle, vague, strangely warm sounds, heavy and dense, pulsing and repetitive, others thin and sparse, droning and flat, while some ecstatic and filled with great movement, forming from the hazed wash of sounds.
1.*1 (c.a).1.1 – 126.96.36.199 – mar. – harp – piano – 188.8.131.52.1
Largo for String Orchestra
An arrangement of the middle movement of my
String Quartet No. 1 in D minor
. . .
because who doesn’t want some more lush strings in their lives?
/for three guitars/
Two-Tap tackles the world of electro-acoustic music, but, well, in a completely acoustic manner. . . It explores the effects and production techniques used in the studio or by amplified/electric instruments, such as chorus, delays/echoes/reverb and panning effects, reinterpreted as acoustic analogies across the trio. The work was commissioned by the Brisbane-based concert series Paint it Red, for the local Rosa Guitar Trio, the classical guitar trio of Benjamin Ellerby, Joseph Fallon, and Elizabeth Myers, to premiere in the final concert of 2016, Paint it Red • PACE.
/for marimba and violoncello/
Have you ever been to far northern Queensland?
To Cairns? To Innisfail?
Its warm, muggy, humid
Inland, the banana plantations; to the sea, the reefs
Snakes in the grass, crocodiles in the water
And strangely enough, filled with amazingly well-kept art-deco architecture.
This piece has nothing to do with far northern Queensland...
Other than that I started writing it while on tour in Cairns and Innisfail.
commissioned by Caleb Colledge
/trio for guitar, violin and violoncello/
Out of black fade two textures, images, characters, contrasting each other.
A slow crossfade, out of black, through black, in black,
for Eleanor Hill, Hannah Harley, and Joseph Fallow
/duet for flute and viola/
for Jo Lagerlow and Kieran Welch
music for large spaces
/for two pianos/
Music for Large Spaces is an exploration into the way in which performers interact with vast acoustics, distance, and reverb. Two pianos are to be positioned facing each other, lids removed, with as much distance between them as the venue will allow. Originally written for performance in Meditations, in the premiere the pianos were positioned at either end of St John’s Cathedral Brisbane, with over fifty metres between them. The effect of this work is textural and plays upon the listener’s sense of space and time.
for Sarah Stranger and Misaki Hori
co-written by Ben Heim
/for string quartet/
When I was writing my String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, I finished three movements, the first, third and fourth, got bored, and then stopped. I told myself that I would come back to it . . . and at the beginning of 2015 I did . . . but it was [censored] and I trashed it. It had been performed a number of times at that point with just the three movements, and though it worked well as it was, I still felt that it needed something to break up the rather heavy first and third movements.
So . . . I wrote this . . .
Movement to, is a stand-alone work for string quartet, suitable for performance in alongside any program of works, which can be performed in place of the missing second movement. For this purpose, it was written with the abandoned movement’s length and key in mind, making use of some of the drafted melodies and themes, however without making an attempt to recreate my earlier compositional style.
/sonata for violoncello and piano no. 1/
When asked to write new works by each the cellist David Freisberg and pianist Samuel Mitchell, I sought to combine the two. The result is equally a sonata for piano and violoncello as it is a sonata for violoncello and piano.
Opening out of hammering chords and grooving rhythms, the first movement falls into motoric textures., building in momentum before suddenly dissipating into an impressionistic wash.
The second movement opens with sparse cello textures, reminiscent of previous ideas. As this suspends above, brooding piano builds below. The parts collide, developing towards the heart of the work – lush, lyrical, elegiac.
A coda of sorts brings the drive of the first movement together with the soul of the second, before breaking apart and descending into traces of the music it was.
for David Friesberg and Samuel Mitchell
/duet for flute and clarinet/
(n.) an unpredictable instance, a wandering journey; a whimsical, wild, or unusual idea, desire, or action
Vagaries is built from a series of free-flowing solo passages for flute or clarinet, each its own whimsical idea, some making reference to others while some run off on a tangent. Finally, these two streams collide, drawing from the preceding solos to create a slowing building duet.
A game of cat and mouse unfolds, as one performer moves, followed at a distance by the other. Should the space and context allow, the performers might lead the audience on a chase through the venue, culminating where the duet begins.
Premiered as part of Light Play.
co-written by Ben Heim
String Quartet No. 2
in E minor
WINNER of the
Australian New Works Award 2015
I keep being misquoted as having said that this piece is about
''the contours of the Australian landscape''.
. . .
but you can keep on thinking that if it helps you,
people seem to like that sort of thing.
/fanfare for brass/
(n.) a tiny brilliant flash or spark; a small thing; a barely visible trace
Piano Quartet in B
Warm, lush, rising, emerging as if from underwater, beyond the horizon. Flowing melodies, freely winding throughout, cascading, settling.
Foreground: drumming, forceful, repetitive, relentless. Background: distant drones, undulating, unchanging, unrelenting.
Out of the warm reverberating of lush chords, a strange nostalgia arises. Memories of past sound encroach on moments. A strange euphoria arises, an ecstatic movement out of the warm reverberating of lush chords.
It floats off into the distance.
String Quartet No. 1
in D minor
/the first thing I actually ever finished!/
As you can imagine, being my earliest work (or at least the earliest I still allow to see the light of day), my compositional style has changed considerably since this quartet. But I still love it. Similarly, the way I've thought about the work has changed a number of times – finished as three movement work, but feeling it needed a fourth, intending, attempting, and failing to write it, and eventually coming up with a new solution.
In my first String Quartet, I was coming from a couple of different angles. The first was to write something short and do it quickly. That didn't really happen. The second was to take some old things and make them new (old ideas of mine, old techniques) and some new things and make the old. Well, fairly new; at least ideas and techniques that are often new, intimidating or unfamiliar and using them to build more familiar structures. For example, taking a serial technique, such as a tone-row, and using it to build quasi-functional progressions, or alternatively, using formal shapes and structure which become buried amidst the mess.
I think it works, don't you?
At times, I think it would work better with another movement. Maybe between the first and second.
Yes, I think I'll do that.
( I think/hope I've grown a lot since back then... )
I thought I'd attempt writing the second movement in time for the upcoming performance at Paint it Red 9.
I didn't get very far.
My style has changed so much since then, and pretending to write the way I used to . . .
It sounded . . . well . . .
I have a solution: a new work, using some of the original ideas and themes, but not attempting to recreate my old style. It can be performed as a standalone work, or played in place of the missing movement.
The result: Movement to,
( I know, what a clever name! )
too, the moon
/fantasy for solo viola and electronics/
too, the moon is a work for solo viola and electronics that reworks the musical and emotional material of one of my earlier works, Cold Companion, a short song for soprano and piano. The original work explores contrasts and isolation: a lone voice in the night, the deep blues of a clear nights’ sky, a simple plaintive vocal line, a rich and subtly complex piano part. This new work takes melodic fragments and the sonorous undulating chords of the piano, tears them apart, and brings them back together in a quasi-fantasia, while turning the cold and plaintive outlook of the song into an emotional outpouring.
commissioned by Kieran Welch
/suite for guitar/
(n.) a form of hysteric behaviour; a nervous disorder marked by uncontrollable bodily movement; overcoming melancholy through dance
Commissioned by guitarist Benjamin Ellerby, this work forms part of a study into how non-guitarist composers approach writing for the instrument. As "Composer B" in the study, I was left to my own devices, having to write the work with no contact between myself and the performer or other guitarist in the process, whereas "Composer A" had weekly sessions learning about the capabilities of the instrument from the performer. Premiered as part of Flow.
commissioned by Benjamin Ellerby
/sonata for solo violin no. 1/
(n.) a low soft sound, as of whispering, muttering or a quiet wind; a whisper or a rustling
Susurrus is an exploration into ephemera, and the vast timbral possibilities of an instrument as versatile as the violin. Opening with a simple set of alternating harmonics, a vast yet sparse texture opens up, buzzing and shimmering before giving way to fragments of lush lyricism and dazzling, energetic acrobatics, only to collapse back into the texture of the opening. Though written for solo violin, the work is enhanced by the optional use of live electronic manipulation, utilising this to enhance these textural effects, as was achieved in its premiere performance as part of Light Play.
/works for piano/
(n.) beautiful writing on a subject of little or no importance
I was challenged to write a piece a day for a few days. So I did. This is the end result. Watch out, there may be a guitar arrangement coming soon . . .
/a song by itself/
for voice and piano
Commissioned by soprano Jessica Taylor as a short competition piece, Cold Companion is a deceptively simple song for voice and piano. Unfolding from an undulating piano motif, it explores a sense of isolation – a lone figure, surrounded by the hauntingly beautiful depths of the night sky, the moon, but unable to feel its wonder – waves of rich piano, washing over repeatedly, with voice simply. plaintively, floating through.
commissioned by Jessica Taylor
Dominus Illuminatio Mea
for SSATBB and string quartet
Dominus Illuminatio Mea was commissioned by Brisbane based vocal sextet, Respiri to be performed alongside Renaissance settings of the same text at its premiere. Austerity, richness, rhetoric, and emotion contrast and combine in a work which fuses post-minimal string textures with flowing vocal counterpoint.
for Respiri and the Armilla Quartet
Pastores in Regione
/a motet for Christmas/
A short unaccompanied motet setting the text from
Luke 2: 8-15, suitable for performance in the
liturgy of advent or in concert.
/for violin, flute and baritone/
A setting of text from the diary of Sister Lydia King, one of the nurses serving on the SS Sicilia off the coast of Gallipoli during World War One. Dedicated to all nurses who have served during times of conflict.
Dramatic & Mixed-Media
/surround sound space opera/
Dive into the world of Illuminae, created in collaboration with Argo, Brisbane Writers' Festival, Queensland Music Festival and the University of Queensland School of Music, and brought to life with music by Ben Heim + Connor D'Netto.
Taking text from the best-selling sci-fi book of the same name, by Melbourne authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, audiences are placed in the centre of the novel’s action as another universe explodes around them in surround sound. Lovers converse, a damaged artificial intelligence goes rogue, and star cruisers battle as live strings and electronics underscore this cinematic experience.
premiered in Brisbane Writers' Festival 2016
co-written by Ben Heim