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Well, there was a big gap in this 'blog'. Around 9 months! After settling in to the house, I left for 6 weeks of a Churchill Fellowship (March - May), the installation of a show at PICA featuring the premiere of the Australian Bass Orchestra (June), participation in a Scelsi masterclass series in Sicily, an improvisation conference in Prague (July), a five week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy (August-September), a short Decibel tour in Australia, featuring the After Julia, Grainger's Free Music and Giacinto Scelsi concerts, an artist talk at CAT in Hobart, a workshop at the Wired Lab, and new work premieres in Adelaide for the Zephyr Quartet and Brisbane for Vanessa Tomlinson. The premiere of the orchestral work The Moment of Disappearance with installation artist Kate McMillan at Carriageworks and the premiere of Tracey Moffat's Art Calls, who I worked with to create the opening music in Sydney - and is currently on show at GOMA in Queensland.
As we pack up the way too many books and records we have accumulated to the hum of news coverage of the Sydney Siege, I reflect on the difference between the city where i have lived for 10 years - Perth, and this place i spent 9 or so months in, Sydney. I'm going to miss the big city. All the things to see and do, the beautiful situation of the city on the harbour, the closeness of Peggy's house to the CBD, the big art shows and travelling international artists that never make it 'over there'. I'm going to miss those, the rain in summer and the established gardens that flourish in them, all the wonderful people I met or just go to know better. But I realise how lucky i am to have a regular and reasonably stable job for me somewhere in the world, and any fleeting dreams I have of returning to being 'freelance' are quickly put aside and I realise how much i am looking forward to returning to the crazy world that i inhabit at WAAPA. I am looking forward to continuing working with the things i worked so hard to create in and out of there, working with my collaborators, releasing the new Decibel album, recording, launching the Western Australian New Music Archive project, the upcoming Totally Huge New Music Festival in May, the 2015 Decibel concerts, and planning the academic year. I am also looking forward to a holiday!
It was my aim this year to make Peggy's house an open house, with visitors and get togethers. Its been full of musicians, composers, dancers, theatre makers, film makers, poets, painters, school children, sleep overs, lay overs, visitors from everywhere. There have been parties, little concerts, band rehearsals with Decibel and the choir Andree Greenwell got together for the After Julia concert, composition workshops with Zubin Kanga on the big piano and Mark Cauvin with his double bass. Social media was plastered pictures of Luke playing duos will all ranges of musicians that came and went.
The other aim i had was to take some time to focus on my own composition work, and try and stake out a place for my work that isn't always aligned or attached to either Decibel or the academy. I felt that I may have somehow achieved this, even if it may take a while to filter through. Being away from things also allowed me to look at them differently, question the way I do things, value the good and understand what I might do about the not so good things about living and working in Perth. The generosity and warmth of the people i have worked with has been wonderful - from the crew at the NOW now, Performance Space, Carriageworks, the New Music Network, John Davis and the Australian Music Centre, the wonderful guys at ABC Classic FM, Gail Priest and her various curated programs. And i didn't get to catch up with everyone! I missed way too many good concerts due to travel, but i got to see some amazing ones overseas too.
Some recent highlights? Getting an improvisers orchestra together for the opening night of the Moment of Disappearance, meeting Julia Gillard when she attended the After Julia concert, hearing different pianists play the Stuart and Sons at the house, glasses of wine on the balcony overlooking the city, the Chauvel cinema, accidental celebrity spotting at Five Ways, Luke's cello recital at Bondi and his jams with a piano playing classmate, being close enough to do an overnighter in Hobart to see the Mathew Barney show, being dressed for photography by Rakini Devi, watching Kenta McGrath's documentary No Encore in our lounge room in Sydney while it premiere's at a cinema in Perth, seeing my book chapter come out in Rosenberg 3.0, getting a copy of my completed Digital Art book in the email... i'm sure i've left a lot out in this free running stream of conciousness entry.
Being in Sydney has meant meeting people I had only read about, getting to know people better, learning a little more about the music politics, learning how to walk and ride up and down hills, getting off broken down buses, finding great places to eat and watching my umbrellas turn inside out in the storm.
We arrived - myself, Karlos, Captain Luke, the 2 cats, 5 cases and 2 electric guitars. I only just went over what my friend Kate recommended - one bag each - but arriving in a house, on spec from 3500kms away was an uncertain business. But being in the air on the way was a good feeling. The packing was over.
Its still feeling surreal, this feeling hightened by a visit to downtown Sydney on Australian Day. Like you are in a holiday home, its a great feeling but its not quite right. Still no internet, thats making me nervous. i didn't bring any CDs or LPs (let alone a record player) so that was something of an oversight. But i'm listening to the radio, i've joined the library, there are some good op-shops around, and if we do our grocery shopping out of the area, its all going to be OK. Some furniture reconfiguration, a few important bits retrieved, i read the entries in the music books i found in the house about Peggy. Very formal musicological commentaries, i need more. I also found a little date book diary from the last year of her life, with some photos and letters, stuffed away in the bottom of a box. I put them in one of the beautiful wood and glass empty cupboards downstairs. A suitcase full of her scores. Bits and pieces left behind from past residencies.
I've made a guest room, visitors have always made up an important part of my life at home. Ive set up a workspace, wondering how i will go working at home after these years of having an 'office' in a different place. My friend Rachael tells me as long as i put shoes on in the morning before i start, it will work out OK. The weather is cool, it even rained yesterday. Everywhere outside of Perth seems lush and green, stuff seems to grow. It was nice sitting on the balcony seeing the mist camouflage the Centerpoint Tower, or having a few drinks under the locquat tree in the back.
I'm getting what i have come to call 'diary panic' - where lots of things are coming but i'm not sure when and if they overlap, moving ate up alot more time than i expected. That means its still a little while before i get into writing. There are a few things to do first.
The Peggy Glanville-Hicks Residency
In her will, Australian composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks left her home in Paddington, Sydney, NSW as a annual residency for composers. In 2014, Cat Hope was awarded the residency, and this blog is a sporadic report of her time there.