‘Atmosphoria’ for QPO

Earlier this month I was interviewed by Samuel Cottell about the upcoming premiere of my work Atmosphoria, commissioned by Matthew Schwarz for the Queensland Philharmonia Orchestra. The interview can also be found here: CutCommon Jakob Bragg.

Imagine a hot summer’s night in Brisbane.

“It’s almost midnight, it’s an unforgivable 28 degrees and worst of all, it feels so much more uncomfortable with 90 percent humidity,” composer Jakob Bragg describes.

“The fan is only moving hot thick air around, you can’t fall asleep and the only reprieve you get is the eventual sound of the chimes singing from the apartment upstairs; the wind picks up. Soon you get the tapping of rain from the neighbours’ tin roof and not long after, a torrential storm hits with fierce winds and heavy rain.

“A reprieve, yes, but concerns of where you parked your car, the possibility of hail, or falling tree branches soon plague your thoughts.”

This is the starting point from which Jakob created his newest orchestral commission ‘Atmosphoria’ to be performed on September 20 with the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra.

The orchestra’s conductor and founder Matthew Schwarz has commissioned works every year since establishing the orchestra.

“When I was approached to write an orchestral work for QPO, I immediately wanted to create a piece that really conjured up Brisbane,” Jakob says. “’Atmosphoria’ is a portmanteau of ‘atmosphere’ and ‘euphoria’ but also refers to the two works that influenced how I wrote this particular piece: Ligeti’s Atmospheres and Penderecki’s Polymorphia.”

Jakob is a Brisbane based composed who studied with Gerard Brophy at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. He has also been taught by Liza Lim and Stuart Greenbaum. “All of these phenomenal teachers have had such a massive impact of my music and how I approach composition,” he says.

“Each has focused on different areas in compositional craft and all have widened my gaze and appreciation of music.” Jakob’s works have been performed by the Australian Youth Orchestra, Kupka’s Piano, the Queensland Mandolin Orchestra, Queensland Saxophone Orchestra, the Conservatorium New Music, Brass and Chamber ensembles and workshopped by The Australian Voices.

Beyond the concert hall, he has composed music for film. Early this year, Jakob was a participant in the Australian Youth Orchestra’s composition program and had his work ‘Dissent’ premiered. His musical influences come from a wide range of sources and are mostly concerned with spectralism and new complexity aesthetics.My music has a strong focus on a morphing of colour and timbre, exploring the spectrum of sound between Western tunings and a constant blurring between cluster and clarity.”

Jakob has a three-fold process in creating a piece and generally begins by sketching out ideas. “I start very vaguely and very graphically, drawing lines, scribbles, shapes… getting an idea on how the piece will build, where it will be most intense, and at what point in the overall duration this will occur,” he explains.

For his new work, he started to make sketches before thinking about instrumental colour and timbre. “Only then did I think about pitch material, sketching an opening cell then allowing my material to flow from there – either mimicking the intervallic relationship or fleshing out the pitch direction. Overall and rather simply, the piece moves from long static lines, to faster and more intense cells, progressing from clear and balanced textures to clutter and thick textures.”

For young composers, having works commissioned and performed by an orchestra is a great learning experience and can provide many invaluable lessons about music making. You soon discover that readability, clear notation, lack of basic errors and knowing each instrument thoroughly is so important and often completely overlooked,” Jakob says. He also loves the amount of noise you can create in an orchestral piece, though it’s much more than noise that Jakob likes to create when composing music.

There are many challenges for emerging musicians to having new music performed and commissioned, particularly by a symphony orchestra. “It can be a combination of fear and uncertainty over something new and untested, a lack of funds to commission something new, perhaps – and wrongly so – a fear that audiences won’t respond, and a lack of awareness of the rich and diverse music available from living composers.” But Jakob is optimistic that more audiences are coming to listen to new works.

“I think communication is the best way to reach audiences new to ‘difficult’ or ‘avant-garde’ music. It’s important for ensembles and or the composer to introduce new works, show that this music has come from a human being, and give an insight into how or why this work has come into existence. I’d also encourage listeners to give new music a chance.

“Music, and all art, has constantly evolved and progressed, responding to the present day and new ways of creating sound. Many listeners are shocked at the idea that people didn’t appreciate the ‘great’ classical composers in their day, yet are completely guilty in the very same act of dismissing music of today, without at least giving it a go or attempting to understand why.”

‘Atmosphoria’ also has a special meaning for Jakob, who is moving to Melbourne later this year and is continuing his studies in composition. It is a sort of ‘parting gift’ to Brisbane. Aside from his move to Melbourne and further study, Jakob has a few pieces to write.

“I’m working on a new work for the Kurilpa String Quartet as part of the Silver Harris & Jeff Peck prize I received from the Queensland Conservatorium, and about to start a new work for new music extraordinaire group Kupka’s Piano.”

AYO Recording and First Sketches for QPO

Earlier in 2015 I was selected for the AYO National Music Camp Composition Program; an intense 2 weeks of lessons, workshops, seminars and rehearsals. Under the tutelage of Stuart Greenbaum and baton of James Judd, us 4 composers raced to form a complete work, developing our sketches that we brought in various states, ready for the concert only 10 days later… Below is the resultant recording form the concert. Dissent, is a play with line and mass, the breaking away from unity until inevitable chaos break out, a disjunct struggle for dominance by each instrument and family.

https://soundcloud.com/jakob-bragg/dissent

Currently, I am working on a commission from the Queensland Philharmonia Orchestra, due to be performed on the 20th of September. Somewhat toying with the idea of humidity, often excruciatingly felt here in the summer, I’ve set out to create an essence of unease and discomfort, a blurring of lines and tight interlocking, until the ensuing torrential downpour relieves the still, bringing a chatter of a thousand voices. In the sketching phase for this piece, I’m analysing Ligeti’s Lontano and Atmosphères, looking at Allen Forte’s Set Theory and completely immersed into Xenakis’s Jonchaies. Details for this concert are below…

http://www.qpo.org.au/masterworks-3.html

Day 9 of AYO’s National Music Camp 2015

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AYO NMC 2015: (Left to right) Clare Johnston, Stuart Greenbaum, Connor D’Netto, Oliver Iacono, Jakob Bragg & James Judd.

Having been accepted into the AYO composition program, along with 3 other composers from Australia, I have been busy writing a work for chamber orchestra to be premiered on the 16th of Jan. Spanning 2 weeks in Adelaide (at the Elder Conservatorium), this intense and fast paced course see us write a work especially for the Australian Youth Orchestra, comprised of both tutors and students, while also receiving daily lessons, seminars and masterclasses with composer Stuart Greenbaum and fellow performers. Since being here I had a chat with Samuel Cottell (words about music student) about writing by hand (see below) and additionally was interviewed on ABC Classic Fm for the intermission between last Saturday’s concerts! Today I heard the first rehearsal of my work, conducted by James Judd and am madly making final additions before the Composition Concert this Friday! A dazed and delirious journey it has been, filled with so much music, many lessons and such amazing talent! http://www.ayo.com.au/content/2015-ayo-national-music-camp-blog-6/gjh3er

Update. October 30. 23:35

 Final composition workshop 2014 Queensland Conservatorium of Music
Graduating composers of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music 2014: (Left to right) Erik Griswold (Tutor), Tim Hondroudakis, Jakob Bragg, Kate Hamill, Nick Rossi & Matthew Schwarz.

In a mere few weeks I will be graduating from my Bachelor of Music (Composition) at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and off to the UK and Denmark for 5 weeks!! However, to more recent events, I have completed a new work for the Queensland Mandolin Orchestra (rehearsals to be begin next week), finished a commission from Amanda Terry (solo violin), and experienced the success of an cross art-form, unusual concert collaboration, entitled moððe – featuring art, film, music, movement, improvisation and voice (artistic director/composer Amanda Terry, Film artist Naomi O’Reilly and producer/composer myself)… Stay posted, more of this project to come! Additionally, I have been undertaking a second Theory Project with Gerardo Dirie, analysing select repertoire from Turkish classical music; building directly from my previous project on Arabic music theory. The next few weeks are dedicated to finishing a new work for solo soprano (Amber Evans), taking – or should I just say ‘stealing’ – influences from Berio’s Sequenza III and Lachenmann’s Got lost – I recently had the pleasure (and somewhat terror) to page turn this piece for Alex Raineri. January next year I will be off to Adelaide after being selected for the Composition Program at AYO’s National Music Camp, studying under Stuart Greenbaum. And in another 3 weeks, I will be bound for the UK and Denmark, experiencing the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and a well deserved (I think), relaxing break…

– – moððe – –

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moððe poster

moððe (old english for moth, pronounced mothaaar) is an interdisciplinary project between violinist (artistic director) Amanda Terry, composer (project/stage manager/producer) Jakob Bragg and video artist (co-producer) Naomi O’Reilly (Queensland College of Art), along with students of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

moððe is a series of small individual experimental works that follow the story of a man who has gone into the afterlife and is awaiting his “judgement”. Each movement goes through events in his life that has lead up to this moment, portrayed through film, movement and music.

Can the weight of our lives transform us into the very creatures we despise? How quickly a flame consumes, how quickly it disintegrates… you take and take and only give back ashen cries but in the end you have only one chance in this life, one chance to make it right, your one chance that put you in this life – don’t forget the many eyes, they see that.

See ‘upcoming’ for concert details…

Corrade Collection & Con Sordino

September 26th will see a new concert by the Corrade Collection at the Queensland Conservatorium. Corrade is Amanda Terry (violin), Caleb Colledge (percussion) & Michael Louttit (double bass/electronics) who are joined by a host of talented musicians performing a truly unique, cross artform concert. As of next week I’ll begin work on a piece for act 6 of this ‘multifaceted art/music/drama work’, utilising violin, viola, double bass, percussion, piano and flute. Envisioned and directed by Amanda Terry, this striking and challenging creation will see 7 acts cross the spectrum of genre, style, intensity and pysche; a production that can only be adequately described as a true Gesamtkunstwerk.

Additionally this week will see a new work for brass reach the final editing stages. This composition echoes the texture and colour of Krzysztof Penderecki with the movement and structure of Ingram Marshall. An exercise in timbre and colour, mutes and microtones; this will be submitted for the Adolph Spivakovsky Scholarship run by the University of Melbourne.

An Experimental Collaboration of Photography and New Music

An Experimental Collaboration & Exhibition will feature works by photographers, musicians, composers and student folios from QCA. This event will also include my latest work Varient, written for the Conservatorium New Music Ensemble, led by Vanessa Tomlinson. This work can best be summarised as intense and haunting, a textural work stemming from Ligeti and Penderecki. Details are:

Monday 26th of May, 2014 – 5:30pm

White Box Studios (S03, level 4), Queensland College of Art

Admission Free.

https://www.facebook.com/events/579265882171661/?fref=ts

New Work for the Queensland Ballet

Currently 1 day away from the recording session of my latest work. I have be asked to write a short Ballet, Choreographed by Paul Boyd, for the Jette Parker Young Artists Program, Queensland Ballet.
It is a 10-12 minute work for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Piano and String Trio. The performance will be during mid 2014, around July, and will feature two young talented girls from the Jette Parker program. The music will be pre-recorded and conducted by Matthew Schwarz (from the Queensland Philharmonia) and recorded by Sarah Ward.
A BIG thank you to all the instrumentalists involved: Annabelle Swainston, Sunny Yeh, Hannah Harley, Aichlinn Huang-Ryan, Richard Shaw, Charly McIntyre and Corey Sinclair.
I will post soon as the recording becomes available and how the work progresses…

Secondly, my other new work ‘Variant‘ for the New Music Ensemble (run by Vanessa Tomlinson) will be performed later this month. Details to be up shortly!

 

Karlheinz Stockhausen // Kontakte

Leading Queensland Conservatorium students Angus Wilson (percussion) and Alex Raineri (piano) will perform their interpretation of Stockhausen’s masterpiece Kontakte, a work that is regarded as key in the evolution of electronic music. The evening will also feature Tristan Murail’s La Mandragore, Steven Mackey’s Beast and a new work by Jakob Bragg.

Concert:
19th of March, 2014 – Ian Hanger Recital Hall – Queensland Conservatorium

Tickets:
$15 adults // $10 concession

Website: http://www.conevents.com.au/kontakte/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1419999564908755/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Kontakte Poster

Brisbane Emerging Arts Festival

As part of the 2013 Brisbane Emerging Arts Festival (beaf.org.au/), Kupkas Piano (Brisbane’s premier new music ensemble) have commissioned Jakob Bragg to write a new work for Flute, Clarinet, Piano & Percussion. The resulting work: Quartet for the End of July, will be performed this Saturday (27th, July) at the Judith Wright Centre at 8:00pm. Kupkas Piano recently interviewed Jakob and ask about life as a young composer and a bit about his new work:

http://kupkaspiano.com/2013/07/26/quartet-for-the-end-of-july-an-interview-with-jakob-bragg/