It began with a lovely few days at World Con in Melbourne, being Laura's boy toy/trophy husband/arm candy etc. as she swam the corridors of Science Fiction Writers Inc. Laura had a book launch for the anthology Baggage which can be purchased from here and is summarised and reviewed, among other places here. Apart form the launch, Laura was a panel moderator, where she kept the pace going, asked interesting questions and kept the loonies in the audience on a short leash. She also had a reading of her own work, but I had to miss that as I had to come back to the Gong to WORK! ARGH!
Actually, that work was pretty cool. I spent all of last Monday, and a fair chunk of the rest of the week, in the Bruce Gordon Theatre at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. There, along with two other composers, three dancers and a lighting designer, I was involved in the development of a new project for dancers, sound and motion capture software called "Feedback". This involves computerised music and sound that is controlled by the movements of the dancers and, in the case of my work, the shadows of the dancer, which could be recorded and manipulated, thus triggering more sound cues. This is really nifty stuff to be involved in, with loads of potential for installations and public art, theatre and festival performances, as well as for film and internet projects. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, we presented what we had been working on to the public for the first time, and the result was overwhelmingly positive.
All of this was made possible by development funding and in-kind support given by the Merrigong Theatre Company who are doing so much to facilitate good theatre and music theatre in our region, as well as providing local talent with the chance to develop their work to a more national standard.
Apart from this, and as if that weren't enough, I began preparing the The Sydney Male Choir for their 11th City of Sydney Concert the the Sydney Town Hall. I was only supposed to do last Tuesday night's dress rehearsal. The retiring music director, Alan Thrift, should have conducted the concert today with me playing African drums on a couple of pieces. However, Alan, who has been in very poor health lately, took a turn for the worse and was hospitalized during the week. He was unable to be at the concert today, so I had the duty and honour of conducting the concert with 1200 or so in the audience.
The choir was, simply, stupendous. Their musicianship, a great tribute to the work of Alan Thrift, was on special display, and the fun and exuberance the men showed during the up tempo numbers (including the delirious moment when they front row formed a kick line in perfect unison!) caught the huge audience's imagination and joy rang out its song - all because of the legacy of Alan Thrift.
A great afternoon of music and laughter, with fabulous guest artists like the Bathurst Panorama Choir, Renae Lopez and Peter Kneeshaw. I mentioned drums before too. I couldn't play them on the concert, of course, so Laura bashed away on our African drum instead in primal, African style and made the day!
A special mention of pianist Eleanor Gair - a true and marvellous player, who is going to be a fantastic collaborator in the years ahead!
I'm looking forward to a great year in 2011 with this choir. Stay tuned for further concerts and events and I look forward to seeing you there!
- Houston Dunleavy
- I was born in Northern Ireland, live in Australia, and am a composer, conductor and actor. I am Head of Composition and Production at The Australian Institute of Music and Musical Director of the Sydney Male Choir. I've been Visiting Composer at Universities and schools and my music has been performed in Australia, the USA, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, China, Italy, Ireland, Taiwan, Argentina, Mexico and Puerto Rico by many international concert artists and ensembles. My compositional interests include music for orchestra, the theatre (including dance), the voice and the church, the combination of electro-acoustic and acoustic resources especially in real time, the exploration of virtuosity and indigenous Australian music. I've conducted in festivals and concerts all over the world, as well as acted in too many professional theatre works to list here.