After a little over 6 years living in Melbourne, I now say a sad goodbye to my diverse, arts loving, coffee drinking, laneway and graffiti littered, changeable city. The past 6 and so years have been absolutely wild. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, the completion of my Masters, the commencement of my PhD in the UK remotely (including some 2-4am classes), new artistic and personal relationships forged, some 17 new compositions, and teaching well over 70 students across universities, primary schools, and privately, there is a sense that the last six years round out another important and rather intense chapter centred upon Melbourne. Reflecting on my experience living here, I can’t help but indulge in some sentimental reminiscing, one I hope you will indulge me with.
For me, Melbourne is…
…experimental improv at Make It Up Club (a shop-front attic in Fitzroy), monthly ELISION concerts at the Brunswick Green pub, finding the next hidden location for Speak Percussion’s Before Nightfall project, free concerts at the Melbourne Conservatorium’s New Music Studio, New Music Classics at the old Elsternwick Cinema, the Local Heroes series at the Melbourne Recital Centre, concerts at the Abbotsford Convent, new music festivals including Homophonic (“celebrating 10 years of mind bending queer classical music”), Tilde, Metropolis; the annual pilgrimage to Bendigo for BIFEM (Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music), spending hours in ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art), NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), drinking my way through the 100s of wine bars scattered across the city, rooftop bars in summer, underground bars in winter, jumping on a tram in a 40 degree heatwave only to jump off 20 minutes late and find it’s now raining and 19 degrees, Autumn leaves, Spring flowers (for my international friends, most of Australia doesn’t get the ‘4-seasons’), knowing (and ranking) every different model of tram on the network, everywhere just doing such damn good coffee, cosy neighbourhood pubs, the East-end theatres, community theatre in Alma Park, the grand Victorian buildings of Collins Street, the brick factories of Richmond, hipster Fitzroy and Collingwood, Californian St Kilda and Beaconsfield Parade, the lush, misty, Mountain Ash covered Dandenong Ranges, snow-capped Victorian Alps, and my quaint little corner of Balaclava.
Melbourne city in Spring (left), Collins Street (top right), Balaclava (bottom right)
Melbourne marked some crucial developments in my composition education and development. I began seeking lessons and developed on-going mentor relationship with Liza Lim, completed my Masters of Music in Composition with Elliott Gyger at the University of Melbourne, had the fortune (and crucial financial support) to undertake various composer summer schools, both abroad and locally, and developed new artistic relationships with ELISION, Ryan Williams, Phoebe Green, Callum G’Froerer, Ossicle Duo (Benjamin Anderson and Hamish Upton), Rubiks Collective, and many others. In particular, the University of Melbourne has provided an invaluable amount of support, through performance and workshop opportunities (Song Company, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), commissions/prizes (the Melbourne Recital Centre prize), and through a host of funding opportunities including support for my 2017 Impuls Academie trip, 2018 Darmstadt and Voix Nouvelles Royaumont trip, and two generous scholarships that are helping to fund my current PhD in the UK (Rae and Edith Bennett Travelling Scholarship and the Welsford Smithers Memorial Scholarship). Without this support and these opportunities (as well as the aforementioned teachers and performers), I genuinely wouldn’t be where I am today.
There is so much I love about Melbourne, one that if circumstances were different would have kept me there for much, much longer, but after 16 months of remote study away from the UK, I am now able to continue my PhD in person and move to Huddersfield (UK) (having moved in January 2022). This exciting new chapter will undoubtedly be centred around the PhD and the continued evolution of my composition practice proceeding from both my research and future collaborations. So for now I say goodbye and thankyou to Melbourne and all my dear friends there and hello to Huddersfield and the UK, with the promise of much more music and writing to come!