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ROCS’ Occasional Choral Composition Competition Redux 
8th-Oct-2010 12:06 pm
Moi at MIV2005
Or, Not-So-Young Melbourne Composers III (6 years on)

The previous installments of this concert undertaking were covered here, at length (2007) and in brief here (2004, before and after).

Before too long, ROCS will rack up its fiftieth world première of a new choral composition; it’s getting hard to keep track of every piece they’ve performed. A fortnight tonight, ROCS will be adding another ten or so new pieces to the list in a concert entitled, “All things counter, original”.

This represents a substantial commitment to providing a voice to local choral composers, who may be found lurking in the ranks of many choirs near you, and whose own original works would otherwise go unheard in the general scheme of Serious Choirs™ performing Old, Frequently-Heard Works in Concert™ by Dead White European Males™ – despite the obvious generalisation, this is often true of many choral concerts. As such, these occasional ROCS concerts devoted to new pieces deserve enthusiastic support from the AICSA community in recognition of the creative endeavour found among its own members.

Which is why it pains me to say, I am perturbed and worried that this particular 2010 version will not do justice to the works that have been diligently worked on and submitted by eight composers. In this respect the current concert seems little different to the conditions ROCS suffered under in 2007, where the choir numbers gradually petered out owing to various factors such as a lack of confidence – the bane of small choirs at the level of sub-critical mass of numbers. (What is it about members of choirs who attend every rehearsal, but drop out just before a concert?) I think it’s safe to predict some of the pieces will almost certainly not be performed to anything like the composer’s desired intentions – as happened in 2007 during my watch as conductor.

What is to be done?

If I might make an impertinent suggestion (seeing as I have no other organisational rôle in the concert, except for turning up and singing whatever I’m asked to):
ROCS is in desperate need of very good sight-readers who can offer their services for the next two Thursdays, and Friday 22.
Given the difficulties of the undertaking, I would guess that Mark Tosolini and Sandra Uitdenbogerd would only be too glad to hear from you, if you can offer any assistance at this late stage.

If not, I would suggest there should be a separate initiative to fund a recording day (or perhaps a long-weekend project) involving one certain AICSA sound engineer and a hand-picked group of about sixteen good sight-readers, to systematically work through most of the 2007 and 2010 pieces – as well as any from ROCS’ larger corpus – to give these compositions at the very least a competent rendition and recording, for the obvious benefit of the composers themselves, of having something presentable to listen to from their efforts.

The 2010 pieces

These are in no particular order as yet (except roughly, as they are currently bound in the score books):

The Silent Trumpet by “Lady Cassandra”
* a five-movement micro-oratorio with a multi-instrumental alto solo, words by the composer

When Icicles Hang by the Wall by “Seth Harper”
* from Bill Shaky-spear’s “Love’s Labours Lost” (V/ii), a bouncy setting with solo viola.

Jabberwocky by “Carol Lewis”
* a palindromic mini-cantata on Lewis Carroll’s well-known looking-glass poem: it’s ƃıןןıɹq.

Prelude and Fugue on a Popular Song by “TMI Bach”
* a pseudo-mediæval/Josquin Desprez setting on a Pythonesque cantus firmus, words obscurely translated by the composer.

I Got a Rock (no. 1), Child of the Universe, I Got a Rock (no. 16) by “Skye Nirvana”
* quirky, repetitive settings of quirky, repetitive settings of random words by quirky, repetitive random poet “Edwina Berlina”

The Dream by “Emo Smith”
* a short, trance-like mood-picture, words by the composer

Sea of Faceless Grey by “Honey Chicken” (not Mr Chicken!)
* a relaxed, songful reflection of urban mundanity, to the composer’s own words

This Old Man arranged by “Bjørk Strangelove”
* a fun little version of the well-known children’s rhyme

Pied Beauty by “WTF Bach”
* a joyous, rhythmical setting of the poem by G.M. Hopkins

Music, when Soft Voices die by “Shelly Bliss”
* a quiet, intricate elegy setting the poem by P.B. Shelley

Sonnet, “My Love, thou art not old” by “Bruce Parry”
* a suave, madrigalian setting of a sonnet by contemporary Australian poet, Charis Messalina

Ave Maria by “Vatican III”
* a grand a capella setting of the traditional responsorial text

Intuitions: song-cycle by “Blanziflor Burana”
1. Break of Day; 2. Sound in Darkness; 3. Measured Tones
* three lively and light-rock pieces, accompanied by piano, with words by the composer

8th-Oct-2010 02:10 am (UTC)
I loved the chance to sing brand new choral pieces with ROCS when I was a member in 2004, and I would have loved to be part of this one but my thesis writing got in the way (and at this point I'm both rapidly approaching deadline and not confident enough in my sight reading abilities to help out). But I strongly encourage everyone who can to get involved in this, because it's a lot of fun and - as you said, phi1ip - an excellent encouragement and resource for local choral composers who should be encouraged as much as possible :)
8th-Oct-2010 07:36 am (UTC) - how many?
Isn't it 9 composers (since we're potentially performing Icicles)?
ROCS is enjoying the repertoire, despite the difficulty of some pieces. Some have been sung in the stairwell on the way to pub after rehearsal :-)
8th-Oct-2010 07:43 am (UTC) - Re: how many?
Reminds me: we haven't got semester 1's new premieres up on the aicsapedia page:
La Mission (2010), Didi et Dada (2004) and all the songs from the 2010 edition of Blue Sky, all but 3 of which were new in 2010.
8th-Oct-2010 10:48 am (UTC) - Re: how many?
You’re quite right, I mustn’t have counted Icicles. If we do that, we have nine. The Fellowship of the…


I’m going to update the AICSApedia page once the judging’s done and the concert order confirmed, and that will include the Gnomeville Songs and mention of the revised Blue Sky.
21st-Oct-2010 12:04 pm (UTC) - Re: how many?

And we have another composer, which gets us to double figures.
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