The Australian Music Centre has announced the 10 projects commissioned under the banner of the 2020 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address, responding to the challenges faced by the music community in the wake of COVID-19. The 10 $1000 bursaries have been awarded to projects proposed by Jane Sheldon, Amy Curl/SIMA, Arcadia Winds, Eric William Avery, Erik Griswold, Alice Chance, Julian Day, Ania Reynolds, Belle Chen and Jasmin Leung.

Eric Avery. Photo courtesy of Canberra International Music Festival

“We are extremely proud to be involved in presenting these 10 projects – and it’s also important to note that every single one of them has a new, original Australian work at its core,” said the AMC CEO John Davis. “We are also proud of the quality of the creative projects proposed for our modest scheme by 108 Australian artists and presenters. Had we had 40 bursaries to give, we would have ended up with 40 original and worthy projects instead of ten.”

All content must be created in a home or private studio, and be no longer than 15 minutes. The selection panel was made up of AMC board members and staff, with the alignment of the material to the AMC’s vision – including a focus on opportunities for Indigenous artists, gender equity, innovation and collaboration – central to the decision-making process. Unsalaried people affected by COVID-19 cancellations were also given priority.


The 2020 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Commissions

Jane Sheldon: Three Mouths by Ben Quilty, for electronics and mouth. A triptych of short, pre-recorded musical works for viewing on vimeo. The new compositions for electronics and mouth will be created in response to a mouth painted by Australian artist Ben Quilty in his works Self-portrait (big mouth) (2013); Self-portrait at 43 (2016); Straight white male, self-portrait (tongue) (2014). ‘I love the grotesque treatment Quilty gives to mouths, including to his own mouth in his self-portraiture. It seems a good time to create a study of grotesquely rendered mouths, given the way that COVID-19 has amplified (from certain perspectives perhaps necessitated?) tendencies to find elements of the body disgusting or threatening.’ (Jane Sheldon)

Amy Curl/SIMA: new works by Judy Bailey and Mike Nock for streaming performance. Commissioning two composers to write a work during the COVID-19 period. Sydney Improvised Music Association will ensure the live premiere of the work once the restrictions have been lifted. ‘Both of these musicians have contributed an immense body of work to the Australian repertoire… Their critically acclaimed and celebrated work has matured over a lifetime, and we believe it is important to document their voice at this time. The premiere performances will take place as part of SIMA’s online concert series streamed via Facebook Live and made available after the event on YouTube.’ (Amy Curl)

Arcadia Winds: Make Wind (Arcadia Winds & Lachlan Skipworth). Make Wind aims to educate and inspire Australians to make wind music in their own homes, then bring diverse communities together online to participate in and celebrate Australian music.

A short series of educational videos will teach viewers how to make basic, affordable wind instruments from household materials and how to apply the simple but powerful principles of wind playing to make music on them. The second stage of the project involves calling on viewers to record video of themselves playing their home-made instruments. Once these recordings are collected, Arcadia Winds will work with composer Lachlan Skipworth to digitally combine, layer and manipulate these recordings, in combination with music recorded by Arcadia Winds, into a new piece of audiovisual art.

Eric William Avery: String Song/Malwa Yuthi. Eric Avery will work with Jess Wright (violinist, Alice Springs Symphony) to give an insight into compositional process combining Aboriginal language and song with the violin. A series of exercises will look at syllables of particular words, then translate this into music to be played on the violin through various compositional means. The resulting piece for two violins and voices will be recorded and uploaded on YouTube.

Erik Griswold: Home Truths. In an ABC interview from 1986, ‘Home Truths’, Peggy Glanville-Hicks said: ‘Anyway, I think that most of that 19th century (like Beethoven’s 9th) is just like a piece of cloth – you’ve wrung out the last drip and can throw it away – let’s get going on.’ A new work, with a working title Home Truths, to be presented as video, will respond to this evocative quotation. ‘I intend to explore several possible realisations, including: a) setting the text to music, b) creating a soundtrack for the existing video, c) creating a kinetic sound work which involves wringing a cloth above resonant objects’ (Erik Griswold)

Alice Chance: Until We Gather Again – a virtual choir like no other. ‘This project is born from a guiding philosophy of my practice: contemporary music belongs to everyone and everyone should feel safe and welcome to experience it and participate in its creation. Until We Gather Again is a ten-minute, aleatoric, audio-visual work designed to be uploaded to YouTube. The work manifests as a bespoke portrait of whichever choir is creating it together, from the safety of their individual homes. Its first iteration is in conjunction with Sydney’s Leichhardt Espresso Chorus. The concept of a virtual choir comes about in a drastically different way to the tiled synchronicity that the name has come to represent: instead of lining each participant up to the same click track, this work embraces the out-of-sync interactions which have become our new normal, and reveals a beauty in the acceptance of this.’ (Alice Chance)

Julian Day: Rose’s Last Testimony: a video essay on Jon Rose. ‘I will create an elliptical video biopic about Rose, blending my own spoken text with musical extracts and archival footage. I will base it on a recent video essay I made that elides Leonard Cohen with my late musician father. I will also reference Rose’s radio portrait Paganini’s Last Testimony and another oblique portrait, Hong-Kai Wang’s Conceptual Biography of Chris Mann. Rose strikes me as Australia’s most significant conceptual artist. For over thirty years he has built a wide-ranging yet consistent body of work. When Jennifer Walshe recently identified a “new” trend of conceptual music, I was outraged she didn’t foreground our country’s chief ambassador. My tribute is one small step in redressing this.’ (Julian Day)

Belle Chen: Home From Afar – evoking Australian landscapes through video performance. For an Australian musician residing in London, the sense of isolation during social distancing is overwhelming, multiplied by news of travel restrictions and closing borders. ‘Australia has never felt so far away. Now more than ever, I am missing home, family and friends, the expansive landscape, the sounds of birds and the ocean… I am proposing a performance in the form of pre-recorded video that travels through various scenes in Australia through integrating soundscapes I captured in Australia over the last few years, improvisation, electronics, and compositions by Peter Sculthorpe (DjilileNight PiecesLeft Bank Waltz). The performance will be recorded with my home studio setup, and across multiple instruments (piano, prepared piano, synths).’ (Belle Chen)

Ania Reynolds: Audible LockdownAudible Lockdown is a sonic depiction of Melbourne during the COVID-19 lockdown period, created with sounds recorded at various locations around the Melbourne CBD. The work draws its inspiration from the concept behind Reynolds’s This City This Sound series: the investigation of the notion of sonic identity and how to convey and represent it. Reynolds and Carl Polke will take field recordings throughout the CBD of Melbourne and its surrounding areas, exploring and capturing these changed sonic environments and specific sonic elements found within them. The recordings will then be edited, morphed and manipulated to create a composition that is reflective of and inspired by the various locations throughout the city. The work will be presented on YouTube with accompanying imagery of Melbourne. This project transposes the original concept of This City This Sound to adapt to current COVID-19 restrictions – faced with the impossibility of international travel to explore new places, choosing instead to explore the familiar; create a new work based on the discoveries; and use an online presentation platform (YouTube) that will allow accessibility and exposure to audiences worldwide.

Jasmin Leung: Articulating the Hidden Sounds of My Bathroom. As we find ourselves indefinitely confined to our homes, there has been increasing awareness of the relationship between ourselves and the spaces we inhabit. Leung was, until recently, researching site-specific harmonic languages at Studio für Elektroakustische Musik, Weimar, before returning home due to COVID-19 – she will now use home isolation as a chance to create work that examines the sonic possibilities of the bathroom space by creating a work for a solo intoning instrument and electronics. The modular score and programming will be made publicly available, so that Australian improvisers can record their interpretation of the work, based off the sonic specificities of their own bathrooms. ‘The point of departure for this work is the act of listening extending into a sonic response. The intrinsic resonances of a bathroom will be activated by the performer – frequencies unfolding slowly before enhanced electronically through psycho-acoustic phenomena (combination tones, interaction of the spectrum with pure oscillators etc.). This constellation of sound reveals the qualities of an intimate space, our relationship to our surroundings and possibilities of a radical perception.’ (Jasmin Leung)


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