Composer Correspondence: Andrew Batt Rawden
It will be three weeks tomorrow since I moved into the Gallop House residency.
I'm the inaugural resident, which means that I'm a bit of a guinea pig, but also a very fortunate young composer! The house is very big, and in a prime location in what's known as the "Golden Triangle", with 180 degree views of the Swan River. It's an inspiring location. The house has an inspiring history as well. It was the site of an industrious farm, and is the oldest private residence in the area.
I'm here to compose, but I've actually already made a quick trip back to Sydney for a few things: I filmed a video clip with Synergy Percussion of a 40 second work I wrote for them. We used a sculpture loaned by a friend of mine, Greg Dickson, as an apparatus to hold 3 solenoids which hit a couple of wine glasses and a singing bowl in time to the three percussionist's heartbeats. I also co-presented the Australian Composition Seminar with Richard Gill and Karen Carey at Santa Sabina School - it was very fun. I had Tim Hanson help me with my group, and we got through about 35 odd student compositions with a live quartet. On-the-spot analysis and advise is fun but exhausting.
I've met some really lovely people whilst here: pianist Irina Vasilieva and her partner Rob Cowell (I daresay I'm going to write a work for Irina.) Also Daniel Masmanian, a composer/conductor with the most innovative idea for a touring opera company I've ever heard - I'm sure it will take off. And of course, Lachlan Skipworth, who's now the resident composer at WASO, but we go way back (to when Chronology Arts was run by Alex Pozniak and I as an ensemble).
Right now I'm working on an arrangement of "Coma Song" for Rafe Morris. It's a love song about what partners do for each other when one is incapacitated - a funny, charming beautiful work - I hope I do it justice.
I was improvising on the piano in the house for a few hours the other night to get some base material for "Revocation", a piano concerto I'm writing for Roger Woodward. I came across the most incredible passage, but alas, I didn't record it, and writing it down was just not possible there and then - if I spend a full month simply figuring out how to notate that improvised passage, it will be a month well spent.
My next performance is in Sydney next week, with the Australian Art Quartet. Wendy Sharpe will be painting murals on the wall whilst I pose for her as a nude life model. I'm not nervous about it anymore (I have modelled for life drawing classes, so I'm over the nudity bit), but I am a little worried that I've injured my back, and holding a pose for half an hour may not be fun with a slipped disk! We'll see! If all else fails, a couple of reclining poses will be fine!
I have to say, this house and this residency has given me such confidence in my composition career: the mindset of composing in a place like this vs. composing where I was before is totally different. I know the music I'll be creating here is going to be great (indeed, already has been so far!) From a music advocate perspective, I'd say that more composer residencies in Australia would benefit the new music scene immeasurably.