WHERE ARE THE SOUNDS OF JOY?
A concert of New Chamber Music for Trumpet, Piano, Percussion and Contrabass presented by ABC Classic FM and The Melbourne Composers’ League, held at the Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank Centre, Melbourne on the 26th of September 2015.
The concert was recorded for broadcast in November 2015 as part of Australian Music Month on ABC Radio. The music for ‘Where Are The Sounds Of Joy?’ is curated around two substantial new works reflecting on the experience of war in the context of the Anzac centenary by elder musical stateswoman Helen Gifford, celebrating her 80th birthday this year, and New Zealand immigrant composer Bruce Crossman. Also on the program is new and recent music by Howard Dillon, Eve Duncan, Peter Graham, Alan Holley, Colin McKellar, Paul Moulatlet and Haydn Reeder. The outstanding performers are Michael Kieran Harvey (piano), Tristram Williams (trumpet), Peter Neville (percussion), Chiloe Smith, Ben Robertson and Rebecca Scully (contrabasses).
Filigree Films created a film that was projected live in conjunction with Bruce Crossman’s work entitled ‘Where Are The Sounds Of Joy?’, which closed the concert. The piece takes its inspiration from Australian Gallipoli warrior, Billy Sing, and re-envisages his life through Kunqu — the mother form of Chinese opera. It reirnagines the Gallipoli war from the Chinese perspective with the metaphorfrom Kunqu in Peony Pavilion, of a broken down garden as the site for dreaming of the ideal lover, used as a parallel of Gallipoli as broken down walls from which one dreams of escape. The work opens and closes with half-sung, half-breath sounds on trumpet alongside emergent ‘broken’ prepared-sounds on piano, and Mandarin whisperings, whilst pure percussion colours focus to war-like Peking opera gong bursts. A gentle section emerges centering the work with a subdued trumpet plunger tune, related to Kunqu melodic fragments; it sits amidst rich piano resonances, including silent-string evoked half-sounds, and eerie bowed crotales as an imagined dreaming of love. The work ends amidst half-resonances on piano and Mandarin whisperings — “shui jia yuan’?” over the lingering Kunqu dream harmony.
The film interprets Billy Sing’s dream of escape from the horrors of Gallipoli with poetic lushness, utilizing Peking Opera musical traditions, Australian bush and atmospheric light combined with sensual dance images across the war landscape from Chinese painter Luping Zeng. The film re-imagines Zeng as a type of modern day Billy Sing in Australia.