Where the wild things grow…and a new choral composition competition!

It looks like ROCS (RMIT Occasional Choral Society, based in Melbourne, Australia) is having another Choral Composition competition.

So…do I enter, or don’t I?

ROCS is a terrific choir, and one of my “home choirs” – I was a member for a number of years, and many of its members are longtime friends. They’re well-known for supporting upcoming composers, for having a membership of choral composers in their ranks, and for being intensely creative and original in the works they choose to perform.

Which is bloody brilliant, I think. We need more choirs like them. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the Mozart Requiem and Handel’s Messiah, but do they really need to be performed that much?

Anyway, ROCS has run a number of these Composition Competitions over there years. Here’s the poster from the last one:

wildthings

And yes, the concert was named after a piece of mine – I wrote the lyrics and Michael Winikoff the music. Here’s a link to the piece in question, and here are the lyrics:

I know a place where the wild things grow
I know a place where the wild things grow
There’s an apple tree
From a core
That someone threw away
The fruit is sweet
So sweet
And no-one knows but me

I know a place where the wild things live
I know a place where the wild things live
Down on Puddle alley, where the little river flows
And a mother duck lives With her baby ducklings,
Soft and grey
So quiet
No-one knows but me

I climb along the bank
And sit so quietly
That no-one knows I’m there
I’m hidden safe away
I see the world go by
And no-one knows I’m there
Hidden in my safe and secret magic world

I know a place where the magic lies
I know a place where the magic lies
A world so far away
And still so close to home
I never feel alone
I never am alone
In my secret place
Where the wild things grow

I wrote the lyrics while reminiscing about the times I used to slip away from all the chaos as a child. I’d go and hide in the quiet places in gullies and near creeks, not too far away from home – behind trees or in them, down banks, or just anywhere I couldn’t be seen, and I’d watch and listen and let myself calm down and relax. It’s still something I do – nature calms and soothes me, and helps me find peace.

I wanted the whole feel of the piece to be as if it were a child talking, sharing a secret with someone they trust. I wanted the innocence and transparency of that special time in our lives to come through in the text.

In the case of this work, I turned to the local scenery near my current home in Mosgiel, near Dunedin. Puddle Alley is a real place, and yes, there are families of wild ducks, and there are cows in the paddocks, and sheep, and alpacas, and great big shire horses…and if you stay still and quiet, they’ll all forget you’re there. It’s a real magic that never grows stale.

And there really is an apple tree from an apple core someone threw away. I can’t help wondering if they know.

The competition

Back to the composition competition. Should I enter? Every time one of these comes up, I never know whether to enter or not. I’ve pretty much moved beyond competitions, and am successful enough that I don’t need them, but I still enjoy supporting them and having my work performed. And I love ROCS, which is an awesome choir and is doing an awesome thing in hosting the competitions in the first place.

I think I’ll enter. I have a couple of new pieces up my sleeve, and I haven’t published for a while.

I think it’s time to get back in the saddle 🙂

It’s been a while…

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve been blogging, and yes, I know it’s certainly been a while since I’ve published any music on CPDL.

I apologise – I’ve been busy. I think John Lennon said, Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. He was right. Life has been happening, I’ve been very happy, and music just hasn’t…happened.

However, now that life is starting to settle down again, I’m getting back to composing, and it’s been nice. There have been a lot of ideas floating round in my head, and I’ll be writing some pieces with my ex-husband Michael, and my son, who is also a budding composer.

For me this is exciting, as it shows we’re creating a bit of a family tradition. I have hopes my son will be a much better composer than I am. I also hope he will support, as I do, the idea of free, freely-accessible music, available for all.

TO NEWS…

I suppose my biggest news is that, despite not writing anything recently, I continue to be performed worldwide. I am aware of several hundred performances last year, and about the same number in 2014, which shows there is a huge demand for free and easy choral music. I’m proud of this, and keen to continue to support free choral music.

My next goal, now I’ve been performed on all major continents (including Antarctica), is to be performed in space. If you’re an astronaut reading this, or you know someone on the space station, contact me! No, I’m not kidding 😉

In other news, the piece for which I wrote lyrics in association with Michael Winikoff, Deconstruct a Chrysalis, has been selected for performance for Canberra Intervarsity Choral Festival this year. This is great news, as the choir and venue (to be announced) promise to be world-class and yes, CDs will be available for purchase.

NON-COMPOSING NEWS…

I’ve finally got around to learning the ukulele! It’s a fun and easy instrument to learn, and I strongly recommend it, especially for those of us who sing a bit. I took a beginner course earlier this year, and now I’ll be taking an intermediate course in a few weeks’ time. If you are really unfortunate, I may even post a youtube of me singing and playing 😉

That’s it for now, but I hope to have a recording of Deconstruct for you after that performance, and I hope it goes well.

In the meanwhile, here’s a lovely new recording of “Crescent Moon” by Bell, Book and Canto in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA:

Three new works!

Yes, it has been a while since I’ve posted. As that Lennon guy once said, Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…

However, despite my lack of action on the composition front, Michael Winikoff – that other composer with whom I sometimes collaborate – has thoughtfully put three of my texts to music, and done a beautiful job of all of them.

Deconstruct A Chrysalis

The first, Deconstruct A Chrysalis, is a short poem I wrote a few years back. Michael has set the text for SATSATB. Here is the poem:

deconstruct a chrysalis
unravel the twisted thread
pull apart the gossamer

take a look
nothing inside
but a shrivelled corpse

no pulse, no beating heart
no wings, perhaps the tiniest hint
of a shroud that once might have flown

now the gift is gone

deconstruct the universe
unravel the twisted mind
pull apart the skin, the eyes

take a look
nothing inside
but a shrivelled heart
now pulled apart

Quite grim, but I was going through an angsty-grim phase at the time, and I think the text worked out quite well. Certainly Michael did a great job with the music. You can find the score for free download and performance here: Deconstruct a Chrysalis / Michael Winikoff.

Mona Lisa

The second piece, Mona Lisa, is about that same painting. The painting had made the news a few years back regarding various restoration attempts, and I felt it would be interesting to write something short in poetry. Michael has written the work for SATTBB.

She is there
in smoky hues of black, tan and green
with some white between the edges of the frame
and the listing catch-plate, bearing her name

Visitors. Admirers.

they look:
oh yes….mmm…beautiful…exquisite…
a fine piece of artwork
he really knew what he was doing.
I must buy a print at once –
where’s the souvenir shop?

they don’t see:
her hidden heart
a wooden plank that’s all –
not even canvas.
Rotting all the while.

While the visitors smoked
and the lightbulbs flashed
and the babies screamed
and threw rattles on the carpeted floors

before they slung her in a perspex cage
and hung a crimson barrier on golden stands
and glued the ‘No Smoking’ signs to the walls
in four major languages.

And Esperanto.

Such a small smile:
her eyes, so far away.

The background
semi-formed in the acid colours of a dream
fading into a memory of long dead fingers
twisting the bristles of a brush
and catching a smile then bones,
now dust.

You can check out and freely download the score here: Mona Lisa / Michael Winikoff.

lisa

I Know A Place

I wrote I Know A Place quite recently, as the first of what will be a series of poems about childhood experience and innocence. It was inspired by a walk I took down Puddle Alley, which is quite near where I live. The place was so beautiful, and it reminded me of how I used to go “exploring” as a child, and hide away behind trees and bushes in the local park until the streetlights came on and my mother would call me home.

Michael has written I Know A Place for SATB.

I know a place where the wild things grow
I know a place where the wild things grow
There’s an apple tree
From a core
That someone threw away
The fruit is sweet
So sweet
And no-one knows but me

I know a place where the wild things live
I know a place where the wild things live
Down on Puddle alley, where the little river flows
And a mother duck lives With her baby ducklings,
Soft and grey
So quiet
No-one knows but me

I climb along the bank
And sit so quietly
That no-one knows I’m there
I’m hidden safe away
I see the world go by
And no-one knows I’m there
Hidden in my safe and secret magic world

I know a place where the magic lies
I know a place where the magic lies
A world so far away
And still so close to home
I never feel alone
I never am alone
In my secret place
Where the wild things grow.

You can freely download the score for I Know A Place here: I Know A Place / Michael Winikoff.

theorchard