Bits and pieces that might be of interest…
Amygdala Hijack for piano (a brief work for Raymond Shon, written in response to a call for variations on a theme of his own construction) has grown – but only a little – in recent months. It is now a 3 movement work that lasts for about 8 minutes, and might hopefully have a life beyond Raymond’s original envisioned project.
Extrication for piano and 2 percussion (glock/xyl, vibraphone)
All movements can be performed separately or as part of the larger work.
Extrication = Sinuosity + InDecision + Alter(n)ations + …this certainty…
Sinuosity : glockenspiel, piano (2017: 5 mins. 15 secs. approx.)
InDecision : xylophone, piano (2021: 2 mins. 10 secs. approx.)
Alter(n)ations : vibraphone, piano (2014: 6 mins. 30 secs. approx.)
…this certainty… : glock/xylophone, vibraphone, piano (2016: 7 mins. approx.)
Dancing to the Tremors of Time has attracted some strongly positive reviews. You’ll find excerpts here, and links will take you to the source material for the full story if you’re so inclined…
Amygdala Hijack for piano: a brief work for Raymond Shon, written in response to a call for variations on a theme of his own construction.
On the Verge of Becoming for percussion, harp, guitar, piano/celeste, violin, viola.
All movements can be performed separately or as part of the larger work.
On the Verge of Becoming = Something Will Be + Incipience + Imminence + Emergence + …morning steals upon the night… + Nascence
Something Will Be : glock/marimba, harp, piano, viola (2020: 7 mins. 30 secs. approx.)
Incipience : guitar, celesta, violin (2020: 2 mins. approx.)
Imminence : marimba, harp, violin (2008 rev 2019: 6 mins. approx.)
Emergence : glock/marimba, guitar, piano, violin, viola (2020: 2 min. 45 secs. approx.)
…morning steals upon the night… : vibes, harp, guitar, celesta, violin, viola (2019: 5 mins. approx.)
Nascence: marimba, harp, guitar, piano, violin, viola (2021: 2 mins. approx.)
Something Will Be (for percussion, harp, piano, and viola) is now complete, and work has begun on the two new works necessary to create links between it and Imminence and …morning steals upon the night…
New Work in progress:
Work continues on tidying up notation, and I’ve also started a new piece for a mixed quartet (Something Will Be for percussion, harp, piano, and viola) – about which there might hopefully be more interesting news later in the year….
The sensational premiere of Dancing to the Tremors of Time is now available on CD.
This outstanding performance by Michael Kieran Harvey continues to bring me great pleasure, and with others on the CD including Don Kay, Scott McIntyre, & Elliott Gyger, it is certainly worth checking out.
For all the info head over the the Move website here.
…of two minds…
for glockenspiel, guitar.
2008 rev. 2019 : 5 mins. 30 secs. approx.
…of two minds… started life as a duo for alto flute and guitar, and was premiered in that form by Carla Rees and David Black at All Saints Church, Oakleigh Park, London on 23/3/2009.
I was however, never completely satisfied with the work, and revisiting it in 2019 concluded that it would sit better if recast for glockenspiel and guitar. This is therefore not an alternative to the earlier version – it is a replacement.
I have also been revisiting other earlier works, purely for the purposes of tidying up the notation. Many were typeset in early versions of the software programme I use and – as it has improved and I have become better at using it – I decided to get my older scores in to more performer-friendly shape!! My list of works now totals about 100 and there’s doubtless a couple of dozen in need of attention. This will obviously be an ongoing project for a little while yet………
…morning steals upon the night…
for vibes, harp, guitar, celesta, violin, viola.
for violin, marimba, harp.
As has become my habit in recent years, after the completion of a major work there comes a quieter period where I tackle a smaller work or two, sometimes rejigging an older work that needs some new life.
This time around I took on an earlier work originally for mandolin, guitar, and harp, and renamed and recast it for violin, marimba and harp. I enjoyed returning to the harp after a long break, and so one thing led to another with …morning steals upon the night… being the result. When Something Will Be followed later (see March 2020 above) it became clear that a five movement work for percussion, harp, guitar, piano/celeste, violin, viola would eventually result…….
The premiere of Dancing to the Tremors of Time can be heard on an ABC New Waves podcast here
If you’re just interested in Dancing jump to the 57’45” mark, but there’s plenty else to listen to with works by Don Kay, Michael Kieran Harvey, and Scott McIntyre, so I’d suggest you settle in and check out the whole show.
Move 50th birthday CD:
Move turns 50.
Congratulations to Martin Wright and the Move team. The new CD marking this singular achievement can be checked out here.
Imperfect Memory: après la danse
Memory is unreliable at the best of times. After the premiere of Dancing to the Tremors of Time – an exceptional performance by Michael Kieran Harvey (in the Nolan Gallery, MONA, Hobart, 17/11/2018) – I found myself wondering what might (or might not) be retained by those hearing such a long and challenging work for the first time.
Imperfect Memory: après la danse takes material from the major work, misremembering it with deliberate imprecision in a shorter work that might (or might not) serve as either a reminder or an introduction to Dancing to the Tremors of Time.
Imperfect Memory: après la danse is dedicated to Michael Kieran Harvey in gratitude for both his prodigious talent and his ongoing commitment to the development and support of Australian piano repertoire.
see(m)ing for flutes, clarinet, trombone, percussion, piano, violin, viola, guitar.
All movements can be performed separately or as part of the larger work.
see(m)ing = mirage 1 + figment + Glimeren + mirage 2 + aura + Parallaxis.
mirage 1 : marimba, violin, viola, guitar (2018: 2 mins. 15 secs. approx.)
figment : Bb clarinet, trombone, vibes, piano (2018: 4 mins. approx.)
Glimeren : piccolo, guitar, celesta, violin, viola (1991 rev 1998: 8 mins. approx.)
mirage 2 : flute, Bb clarinet, trombone, vibes (2018: 1 min. 15 secs. approx.)
aura : celesta, guitar (2018: 3 mins. approx.)
Parallaxis : flutes, Bb clarinet, trombone, percussion, piano, violin, viola, guitar (1993 rev. 2016: 9 mins. approx.)
A quick trip to Hobart for the stunning premiere of Dancing to the Tremors of Time by the brilliant Michael Kieran Harvey in the Nolan Gallery at MONA.
A genuinely astonishing performance of a long and challenging work – Michael has most definitely been blessed by the musical gods……..
Thankfully it has been recorded by the ABC and will likely appear somewhere around the traps in the not too distant future.
In Progress : see(m)ing for flutes, clarinet, trombone, percussion, piano, violin, viola, guitar.
A period of tidying up of notation of some older scores has led – as it can – to a burst of other activity.
A couple of early works (originally un-barred) have been cleaned up, and the completion of another unfinished multi-movement work – as with Tortus, a work begun years ago but left incomplete – is well under way.
This case is a little different though, in that there were originally 5 movements planned, of which 3 were finished and 2 fairly well advanced. One of the three has since been liberated to stand totally alone, and the 2 ‘incompletes’ will be broken down, pillaged, and rebuilt to create 4 short(ish) linking companions to the remaining ‘2 of the 3’.
I anticipate completion by the end of the year : 6 movements, 8 instruments, and about 30 minutes……….
New Work : Tortus for oboe, vibes, guitar, and viola.
Finally – Tortus is now complete. In total there are 6 movements (…in coils, Twist, Curve, Espiral, Turn, & Tortility) four of which – I, II, IV, V – can be extracted for standalone performance. The piece is pretty challenging (though everyone gets to sit out for a while) and runs to about 26 minutes.
Repose (for Absent Friends).
Repose is – in contrast with most of my other piano works – a relatively brief, gentle, and contemplative piece (as the programme note says, it looks back to a time when the future held infinite possibilities, and friends and family were immortal). It was premiered (on 13/4 in Melbourne) in yet another finely balanced and beautifully expressive performance by the outstanding Michael Kieran Harvey. Michael is often described as a champion of new music, and in particular of Australian composition, and is (unlike so very many other pretenders that would claim the title) one of the all too few who are without doubt the real deal.
Repose (for Absent Friends) will be premiered in Melbourne next month at a concert curated by the Melbourne Composers’ League.
In Progress : Tortus for oboe, vibes, guitar, and viola.
I have at last made time to return to a long neglected project that I’ve been eager to finish for some years now. …in Coils… (for oboe & viola) and Espiral (for oboe & vibes) were always meant to be parts of a larger work, but somehow the rest of it never got done, and those two works were left to wander largely unannounced and certainly un-noticed…
Now however I have finally determined to get it finished and work has been progressing well. The new works list on the Bio page now includes 3 new movements Twist, Curve, and Turn, and the final sections to follow in good time. The final piece will have six or seven movements, and be 25 minutes long or thereabouts.
It will soon finally be sorted, and then all that will remain is to interest some good performers !! Wish me luck !!
Date to watch :
Dancing to the Tremors of Time has been pencilled in for premiere in November – more detail to come….
New Work :
Dancing to the Tremors of Time has been completed ahead of time. I’m excited at the prospect of Michael Kieran Harvey working his magic on it sometime in 2018……
Dancing to the Tremors of Time :
Work has begun on the new piece for Michael Kieran Harvey : Dancing to the Tremors of Time. The preliminary doodlings are shaping up nicely……….
The fabulous viola player Phoebe Green is to give another performance of Torque at the next Arcko Symphonic gig – at the Church of All Nations, Carlton – on the 27th. If it is anything like the premiere she gave in 2015 (which can be heard on the Like a Maelstrom CD available from Crackbell Records) it will be an absolute stunner !!
I’m very much looking the first few months of 2018, when I’ll be writing a major new work for the brilliant and fearless Michael Kieran Harvey : Dancing to the Tremors of Time. The title is taken from a painting by James Gleeson, whose dramatic and colourful art has inspired several other recent works.
Movements I, V, and IX of Figuration in Search of Identity have now been premiered with great success by James Townsend, Madi Chwasta, and Mathew Levy – make a note of these names if you don’t know them already……
The performances they gave at the booked-out ANAM/NGV concert (Ian Potter Centre : NGV Australia – Federation Square) were simply stunning. I’ve been lucky enough in my time to have had some spectacular premieres of my works, and these rank right up there with the best !!!
More details confirmed for the ANAM/NGV performances on the 20th May at the Ian Potter Centre : NGV Australia – Federation Square.
Movements I, V, and IX of Figuration in Search of Identity to be performed by James Townsend, Madi Chwasta, and Mathew Levy.
NB : Free but registration essential
New Audio sample :
Michael Kieran Harvey premiered re-fract in Sydney in September last year.
An excerpt from his breathtaking performance has now been added to the Audio:Video page, where you can check out all sorts of bits and pieces – or if this is the only sample you’re after you can listen here
Sinuosity : for piano, glockenspiel. (2017: 5 mins. approx.)
Peter Dumsday and Arcko Symphonic Ensemble finish the year with very much deserved acknowledgement (for this year’s performance of Like a Maelstrom) in Clive O’Connell’s Classical Year In Review.
I can only conclude that Peter Dumsday enjoys “…lots of fast notes. And more finger-bleeding drama…” because his recent premiere of Contretemps was an absolute ripper!!
I previously had only heard a whisper, but it is now official that the extraordinary Peter Dumsday is to premiere Contretemps on December 4 as part of ASTRA’s ‘All Premieres’ concert at the Church of All Nations.
Here’s a grab from his Facebook page to help set the scene:
“Brendan Colbert was so happy that I played his huge piece “…Like a Maelstrom” that he wrote me another piece to say thank you. With lots of fast notes. And more finger-bleeding drama. You’re welcome, Brendan.”
the pulse returns : for vibes soloist, 2 percussion and strings. (2016: 14 mins. 30 secs. approx.)
Michael Kieran Harvey will premiere re-fract in Sydney on September 1st. (details here)
I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have Michael involved in a number of premieres, from his stunning performance of Agité III some 15 years ago through to the 2015 release of Quicksand on his recent SIVA CD through Move Records. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to the concert, but it is sure to be a cracker!!
MCL site update:
The Melbourne Composers’ League has recently completed an update of their website. You can now preview & purchase the CDs they’ve released. If you’re interested in sampling a wide range of composers, performers & works (including a couple of my piano solos), you can check them out here
“That Like a Maelstrom was able to evoke such a strong response speaks to the power it has as a work…”
Another review of MELBOURNE MADE : this time on the CutCommon website – Leah Blankendaal gives her thoughts here
” … an uncompromising voice, both enervating and exciting to hear in an age when contemporary composition is finding it difficult to sustain interest, let alone an audience…”
Clive O’Connell’s review of Arcko’s MELBOURNE MADE concert (& CD Launch) is now available – you can read his detailed thoughts on the night here
The LIKE A MAELSTROM CD is to be launched at Arcko’s MELBOURNE MADE concert on 19/3 at the Church of All Nations in Carlton. The concert will include the second performance of my double concerto (featuring Bruno Siketa and Peter Dumsday), as well as works by Caerwen Martin, Elliott Gyger and Tim Dargaville – promises to be another outstanding Arcko experience…….
There’s a new article by Stephanie Eslake over at the CutCommon website. You can read a bit about Arcko, Maelstrom & me, and when you drop by it’s well worth checking out what the rest of the site has to offer….
…this certainty… : for 2 percussion (glock/xyl, vibes) and piano. (2016: 7 mins. approx.)
“I act with complete certainty.
But this certainty is my own.”
from On Certainty, by Ludwig Wittgenstein.
There’s now a review of the LIKE A MAELSTROM CD over on the Music Trust website – you can find out exactly what Alistair Noble thinks of it here
Portrait CD release:
NOW AVAILABLE through Crackbell Records
LIKE A MAELSTROM : The Music of Brendan Colbert
Arcko Symphonic Ensemble : live in concert
Bruno Siketa – trumpet
Peter Dumsday – piano
Phoebe Green – viola
with special guests
Silo String Quartet.
Also downloadable in MP3, FLAC etc.
Check out other Crackbell & Arcko releases while you’re at it!!
Ascension : for trumpet in C. (2016: 1 mins. 45 secs. approx.)
Contretemps : for piano. (2016: 3 mins. 45 secs. approx.)
15/12/15 : An edited version of the November interview with Tony Thomas (that includes me confidently and incorrectly confusing Shostakovich & Stravinsky!!) is now available on the 3MBS website on their Podcasts / Interviews page.
Silo String Quartet’s spectacular premiere of Proxima also featured on tonight’s Contemporary Visions.
24/11/15 : Interview on 3MBS (Contemporary Visions with Tony Thomas) included broadcasts of …like a Maelstrom, Torque & Quicksand.
…like a Maelstrom : video of the powerful premiere performance (sample & full versions) is now on the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble website.
winding down : for string orchestra [minimum 4,4,2,2,2] (2015: 11 mins. 30 secs.)
Quicksand now available on CD on
SIVA – Australian virtuoso piano music.
Michael Kieran Harvey (pno).
Move Records MD 3397 : other works are by Helen Gifford, Raymond Hanson, Gordon Kerry & Neil Kelly.
Move Records page here
CD available from the AMC here
Fracture : for piano (2009 – 2015: 27 mins. 40 secs. approx.)
With Shard finally completed, the reborn Fracture is done at last!
i) re-fract : 2009: 8 mins. 10 secs. approx.
ii) Doublethink : 2012: 12 mins. 50 secs. approx.
iii) Shard : 2015: 6 mins. 40 secs. approx.
All three works can be performed individually, or as part of the larger work.
Portrait concert review:
21/2/2015 – Arcko Symphonic : Like a Maelstrom, the music of Brendan Colbert.
Arcko Symphonic Ensemble in a portrait concert performing a selection of recent works (including 4 premieres), featuring the Arcko commission …like a Maelstrom (double concerto for trumpet, piano and small orchestra) with soloists Bruno Siketa (tpt) and Peter Dumsday (pno). Guest performers are Silo String Quartet premiering Proxima, Phoebe Green premiering Torque (viola solo), and Timothy Phillips will premiere the palest light (glockenspiel solo) and conduct the whole show, which will also include Arcko’s latest performance of …floating in the void… for thirteen strings.
A mountain of work for all concerned, and an undoubted career highlight for me !!