Monday, May 19, 2008

Elizabeth Bay House

My brother-in-law Gareth is a multi-talented individual who recently discovered that Elizabeth Bay House in Sydney is oriented to align precisely with the sunrise at the winter solstice. He has created an audiovisual and used part of my flute concerto as the background music. He took the photographs, filmed the sunrise, did the research and wrote an article.

Gareth is an amazing singer-songwriter. We listen to the stuff they play on ABC Sunday arts shows and after about two seconds we wonder when Gareth is going to be hugely famous and all over the radio and TV. He performs in Sydney as Malone and the Gentle Band, often at the Vanguard but also other places. If you ever see his gigs advertised, GO. You will not be disappointed. Move over, Kurt Elling.

And he's just made a wonderful 4-track EP, so I'll post here when it is released publicly.

A short p.s. to apologise for not blogging much lately. I've had a sick child so time and sleep have been rare commodities around here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Poetry and music

Esther Ottaway, whose poem I am setting for the piece I'm working on, has had an article published here.

Toasted Muesli

I love muesli. It fills me up so much more than el blando wheat cereals, and I just like the taste of all the bits and pieces in it. I'm currently addicted to Tropical Muesli from my local wholefoods shop but it's sometimes hard to navigate the tiny aisles and "go-on-put-your-hand-in-I'm-yummy" bins with a pram and 4 yr old at the same time.

So since I had ingredients at home, and some time, I made this today based on an Edmonds recipe. Toasted muesli is higher in fat and sugar than natural muesli, but I was after a bit of a change. Since testing it, I think it's a bit too sweet so next time I'll leave out the sugar and put in more oats and dried papaya. That's for Alexander, he adores papaya.

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup raw almonds, whizzed in a food processor - you could use any kind of nuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sultanas and 1/4 cup chopped dried papaya - but you can use whatever dried fruit you fancy

Heat the oil, sugar and honey in a pot or microwave and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Mix all the other ingredients together except the fruit, then pour the honey mixture over it and mix well.
Put into a roasting pan and bake in oven at 140C for 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring a couple of times. Set the timer and don't forget it. This stuff burns easily.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Then break up, toss the fruit through it and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fact or fiction

This morning's conversation:

Can Spider-man fly?
No, he just swings through the air attaching himself to buildings with his webs.
I don't think Spider-man is real.
Actually, Spider-man is a character from a comic book, so you're right, he isn't real.
I don't believe in Santa Claus OR the tooth fairy.
Why not?
Because I haven't lost a tooth yet! Hahaaaa!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I don't know how

But I have nine minutes of music written.


I'm not sure when or how I managed it, what with sick children and taking up blogging (note to self: stay away from the computer) and no sleep, but there we are. My time limit is 15, so I reckon anywhere between 12-15 is going to be fine. And who said composing was all about "the flash of divine lightning". Haha.

It's just in short score at the moment, which will be to my advantage when I'm orchestrating because I realised that I have to do a piano score for the choir rehearsals. Eep. All that Finale-ing is going to send me bonkers. But hey, better that the choir know what the accompaniment is going to sound like, even if just a little bit.

4 months to go. Onwards and upwards.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mmm, cookies

I just made some biscuits from a recipe in the Edmonds Cookbook, a NZ staple. I love this book. The baking recipes are fantastic, and so are the jam, chutney, preserves etc. The book gives you basic techniques and simple old-fashioned recipes that always work and aren't too trendy. I really want to learn how to make jam properly and have another go at chutney and relish. My first and only attempt at jam was singularly unsuccessful. One of my projects for next summer, if not before.

I added 1 Tbsp cocoa so they are really Double Chocolate Chip Biscuits. Mmm.

Chocolate Chip Biscuits
(makes about 24)
125g butter
1/4 cup sugar
a few drops vanilla essence
3 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk (but I didn't have any, so used a bit of normal milk to bind the mixture)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
(optional: 1 Tbsp cocoa)

Preheat oven to 180 C, grease two oven trays.
Cream butter, sugar, condensed milk and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, cocoa if using, and mix together with the chocolate chips and a little milk if the mixture is too crumbly.
Roll into walnut-sized balls, place on oven trays and flatten slightly with a fork.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, then cool on wire racks.
Put the kettle on, make a cup of tea, and then the cookies can be eaten while slightly warm and fudgy in the middle.
Store in an airtight container but seriously, they won't last long.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Advice to young composers

Last year Matthew Hindson contacted a number of established composers and asked them to write up some advice for younger composition students.

I was happy to be included and the final result is an excellent store of things to think about when you're sitting at your desk or computer or in a cafe somewhere, wondering what the heck possessed you to take up composition and what the heck you're going to do next.