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Premieres in UK and Finland,
a fellowship in Canberra

March 2018. A few years ago I was fortunate to land a project grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. It allowed me to compose two pieces - The Drowners and In transit - and there are performances of both coming up. This year, I'll also be spending more time in Canberra as part of my H. C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship, and will have the opportunity to work with some of ANU's fine musicians while there. I've also been impressed by Wollongong's Steel City Strings, who have asked me to be their patron and who will be performing some of my music this year (and a whole lot of Matthew Hindson's too).

Read more about these pieces and my other news below. See also my website for more details about individual works, and other information.


The Drowners in London

If you're anywhere near London on Saturday 10 March, I hope you can get along to hear the excellent Australian baritone Morgan Pearse give the first performance of The Drowners. This is six songs to words by Tim Winton (from his novel Breath), George Barker, Georgiana Molloy, Bruce Dawe, Stevie Smith and Shakespeare. The piece is for string orchestra with percussion, harmonium, celesta and harp, and Ruthless Jabiru - London's orchestra of Australian expats - is conducted by its founder, Kelly Lovelady. The concert takes place in the Gothic-revival magnificence of Gilbert Scott's chapel at King's College in the Strand (Gilbert Scott was the architect of both the Albert Memorial and St Pancras Station, so we're not talking low key).

> The Drowners at 5pm, Saturday 10 March at the King's College chapel, London. Book tickets (Eventbrite).

> Program note and song texts. Read also an article I wrote about The Drowners for the AMC's Resonate magazine.

Image: King's College chapel by G. Scott. Photo © Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

In transit in Helsinki

Aura Go gives the European premiere of In transit on Thursday 31 May at Helsinki's Hietsu Pavilion. I wrote this piece for a consortium of four pianists - Ian Munro in Australia, Roy Howat in London, Joel Sachs in New York and Aura Go in Finland. It's in 12 short movements, each using a spoken text, taken from my notebooks, on the subject of trains or railway stations around the world (including the countries of the four pianists). At the first performance last year in the Arts in the Valley Festival at Kangaroo Valley, NSW, I spoke the texts while Ian Munro played the piano. In Helsinki, Aura will be both pianist and speaker. Go Aura! (Sorry.)

> In transit on Thursday 31 May, Hietsun Paviljonki (Hietsu Pavilion), Helsinki. Read a program note.


Coombs Fellowship at ANU

I'm very pleased to have been invited to be an H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra this year. The fellowship involves concerts of my music, new works for solo cello and for violin and cello, and public lectures. Previous holders of the Coombs Fellowship, now in its sixth decade, have included Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Christina Stead, Xavier Herbert, Judith Wright, Robyn Davidson and William Yang, as well as the composers Don Banks, Malcolm Williamson, Nigel Westlake and Paul Grabowsky (see the complete list). My first lecture, 'Writing about Music', is on Monday 26 March at 6.30 in the Larry Sitsky Recital Room in the School of Music. That's also the venue for the first concert on 24 April - a lunchtime concert featuring five of my pieces, including the new cello solo for David Pereira, Hearing Voices. For program and performer details, see sidebar on the left.

Sad Jigs returns

Steel City Strings, the Wollongong-based string orchestra of which I'm proud to be a patron (a title that always make me feel like the Queen Mother), is playing my Sad Jigs in three concerts this month. Commissioned by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2005, the piece exists in two versions - for string quartet plus double bass and for string orchestra. The quintet was performed numerous times by the SSO Fellows and then taken up by other ensembles, including the Brodsky Quartet with composer/bassist Rob Davidson; the orchestral version, first heard at AYO's National Music Camp in 2006, directed by Helena Rathbone, was last played in a series of schools concerts by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The title, by the way, is one of Debussy's cast-offs: 'Gigues tristes' was his original name for the piece he eventually called simply Gigues.

> Sad Jigs as part of the Steel City Strings' 'Great Chamber Works' program in Kiama (The Pavilion, 18 March at 2pm), Wollongong (Art Gallery, 24 March at 7:30pm) and Berry (School of Arts, 25 March at 4pm). Buy tickets (Trybooking)

> I will be introducing Tony Williams's new feature film about Steel City Strings, The Passion of Music, at the Bowral Empire Cinema on 23 May at 6pm, with proceeds from the launch going to Rare Cancers of Australia. More information about this film.

Later in 2018

There are more premieres coming in July, October and November: Blood Red Roses commissioned by Paul Goodchild for the 60th birthday of Sydney Brass, String Quartet No 6 for the Flinders Quartet, and a dramatic work for soprano Jane Sheldon and percussionist Claire Edwardes to words by Anne Carson: No One Could Relax around Jezebel. More information next time.

By the way, I hate spam as much as anyone and have recently unsubscribed to quite a few mailing lists I never asked to be on. This newsletter is meant to come out four times a year (in reality it's usually only three times), and while many recipients signed up for it, some of you did not. If you'd like to get yourself off my list, please click here .


Recent articles

Recent Inside Story articles cover topics such what a composer does, Elena Kats-Chernin's music, Geoffrey Lancaster's Mozart recordings and jazz pianist and composer Andrea Keller's recent work.

> A full list of recent articles on my website.

Background information and further news are available at www.andrewford.net.au. You can also follow me on Twitter for semi-regular updates.