Saturday, May 1, 2010

Back... sort of...

A very very large hiatus in this blog. Time slipped away and I got run over by Life in general. But I thought it might be time for a quick update.

Well, 2010 has been busy busy busy so far, and it's 1st May -- I can't believe it. I am powering through my third piece this year. I really do not know how I managed that, but there have been some major melt-downs along the way and fortunately my wonderful mother-in-law has been on hand to babysit when I am lurching headlong towards a deadline.

Two weeks before Easter I finished "Rollicking Rhymes", a commission for the Elanée Ensemble of viola and double bass, Jo St Leon and Stuart Thomson. Wonderful, wonderful players! The piece is three movements, a whimsical take on nursery rhymes with the third movement a bit of an impression of that famous cartoon rabbit from Looney Tunes... you know the one.

The week before Easter I started working on a project in which I'm involved, with my colleague pianist Shan Deng. We are investigating the use of Chinese folk tunes within new Australian compositions for pipa and piano. I went to Brisbane in early March to meet Deng Wei, Shan's father, and learn how to write for the pipa, a Chinese lute with an ancient and fascinating history. That was a beautiful experience and I came home raring to go. Within three days I'd written a 5-minute piece for piano and pipa called "Little Bird," based on a Chinese folk song titled "Shoo-shoo bird". Fun.

But the biggest news of all was that in early March I found out I've been accepted for the Music 10 Festival in Blonay, Switzerland, in June. Over 120 composers applied and 20 were accepted. There will be 20 performers in addition to eighth blackbird chamber ensemble, and composers Stephen Hartke, Martin Bresnick and Joel Hoffman. I absolutely cannot wait. So I'm now writing for two flutes, piano and percussion. It's called "These Dark Notes Drifting" and so far I'm happy with it although am trying to hold on to the remnants of my sleep-deprived sanity as I desperately scratch around for the time to concentrate. Many many late nights. Which I'm getting very sick of.

Family is doing well: Alexander is 6 and 7 months, Lillian is 2 and 7 months. They are demanding and gorgeous and frustrating and delicious and infuriating and clever, all at the same time. We love them to bits. And apart from Lillian being a bossy britches, they love each other and quite happily while away the day just pottering around together. She is Spider-Girl while he takes her off into the garden for MI-5 spy training. She didn't quite get the dress code memo though, as was climbing ladders and fighting with sticks today wearing a pink striped polypropylene top, red gumboots and purple fairy dress with sequins. Indeed.

So, off I go. More little black dots!