Acacia Quartet’s recent concert program featured a new work: Tempesta by Joe Chindamo. Given the ensemble’s championing of new music Chindamo’s dilemma could be described as: To Tonal or not to Tonal? The Melbourne jazz pianist and composer gives an insight into the creative process …
If I were marooned on a desert island and my fellow lost souls just happened to be the members of a great string quartet (who also just happened to have their instruments with them), I will have found an inexhaustible means of indulging my musical visions. As such, when Acacia Quartet extended an invitation to compose a work for them, I jumped at the chance.
I was then confronted with that awful but transient moment which must plague all creative artists: the moment immediately following the feeling of excitement and anticipation which accompanies the acceptance of a
commission. With that moment comes the question: What the hell am I going
There is a myth that creative acts equal total freedom. I believe that
Creativity can only flourish within certain pre ordained restrictions. A
painter might give himself or herself total stylistic freedom, once the
parameters of using only red, blue and yellow have been established.
For me, there are essentially two roads a modern composer can take, and each requires this conscious setting of parameters. The most common of the two roads favours the creation of Soundscapes, where the elements of music
(melody, harmony, rhythm) take the form of abstract gestures.
I’ve decided to take the road less travelled, in composing music which finds its means of expression through a more corporeal use of these elements. There is a difference between these two worlds even if the line which divides them is a complete blur.
It’s a dangerous road, which only the brave, or perhaps naïve, are willing to take, because it invites comparison with history’s greatest musical minds. Here there are no emperor’s new clothes or political agendas behind which one can take refuge. It’s also a perilous road because the use of melody, rhythm and harmony is considered by some an unnecessary clinging to
tradition’s apron strings. I’m nonplussed by the fact that it hasn’t
occurred to such critics that dogma can plague any art. And if everybody is
eschewing melody and harmony etc, it only gives birth to a new conservatism, because this method becomes the accepted modus operandi or the norm from which any serious artist must endeavour to emancipate himself from.
To me, ridding my music of any elements is not a creative act itself: in
fact, it’s tantamount to consciously shutting down one my senses, which is
quite different from deciding to use only three colours. I like to taste
music, enjoy its scent, hear it, see it, feel it.
Joe Chindamo, 2014
(supplied by New Music Network and reprinted by Classic Melbourne with the author’s permission).
Acacia Quartet was founded in 2010 by four friends with a passion for
chamber music – violinists Lisa Stewart and Myee Clohessy, violist Stefan
Duwe and cellist Anna Martin- Scrase. In just four years, Acacia has won
great respect for their versatile and inventive programs which often couple
established repertoire with the unorthodox.
In 2013 Acacia was nominated for both, ARIA and Arts Music Awards for
Excellence. Their CDs feature regularly on ABC Classics, Fine Music 102.5
and Qantas In-flight Entertainment.
Acacia’s CD Blue Silence of the complete works for string quartet by Elena Kats-Chernin received recognition as Limelight Magazine’s Editor’s Choice and was chosen as CD of the Week on ABC Classics.
2014 is another exciting year as Acacia collaborate with ARIA Award
winning pianist Sally Whitwell, perform with popular flutist Jane Rutter,
launch their new CD Different Worlds with Fine Music 102.5 Kruger Scholar and ABC Young Performer of the Year saxophonist Nick Russoniello and perform the world premiere string quartet, Tempesta, dedicated to Acacia by internationally renowned jazz pianist and composer Joe Chindamo.