Hourglass Beach – rehearsing new contemporary music

On Friday 16 October and Friday 23 October my chamber group, the Hourglass Ensemble, will play two performances in Sydney, with three big world premiere commissions.  What’s it like to rehearse brand new music for the first time?

A living composer doesn’t have all the history, honour, and assumptions available, compared to the great writers. When you play Beethoven or Brahms you know basically how to play it.

This week on Monday and Tuesday we played Smith, Kennedy, and Rosiak, along with the well-known grand Aussie Sculthorpe, and all of their works were unknown – the harmony, rhythm, ideas, voicing, narrative … every element could be radically different to our past experience, and that’s why contemporary music is the highest challenge for musicians!

However, we’re not daunted, we love exploring these new worlds and learning rapidly to interact, converting notes on page to a story, and to art.  It’s akin to the explorers of the 17th and 18th century finding other continents – novel, but still on Earth – next to those in the 21st century who are bending frontiers in space and in quantum mechanics.  So many weird and beautiful things to discover!

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