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Source: University of Canterbury

16 November 2021

A composer’s dream come true; the new-music group cLoud Collective, composed of University of Canterbury music faculty staff, is dedicated to collaborating and sharing new music in Ōtautahi.

  • UC Music’s (from left) Senior Lecturer Dr Justin DeHart (percussion), Professor Mark Menzies (violin, viola), and Senior Lecturer Dr Reuben de Lautour (piano), of cLoud Collective, perform world premieres of new work on 5 December.

The talented and innovative musicians, Professor Mark Menzies (violin, viola), Senior Lecturer Dr Justin DeHart (percussion) and Senior Lecturer Dr Reuben de Lautour (piano), love nothing more than a creative musical challenge. That’s music to the ears of Aotearoa’s contemporary composers, however cLoud Collective’s reputation now extends beyond these borders as well.

Audiences can catch a number of world premieres on 5 December, 2pm, in the Great Hall of Te Matatiki Toi Ora | Arts Centre Christchurch.

Ōtautahi – loud and proud

Celebrating and championing the wealth of musical talent in Ōtautahi Christchurch is a key mission of cLoud Collective. As Professor Menzies said on Radio New Zealand (RNZ) in an interview before the group’s debut performance, “the capital L and small C in the group’s name is no accident. For too long we have been quiet in Christchurch, and that’s about to change!”

The music community grows

The new works by composers from Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad are each written for the ensemble and the specific talents of the players.

As well as commissioning and performing new music, cLoud Collective is committed to collaborating with other local performers – in this concert Tomas Hurnik (Associate Principal Cello, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO)) and Emma Eden (Principal Horn, CSO) will be part of the ensemble. Recent UC Music graduate Yifan Yang (Piano) will also share the stage.

Musical dream catchers?

“Two dream collaborators for a composer is how Auckland-based composer Chris Gendall describes the ensemble members he collaborated with; Professor Menzies (violin, viola) and Dr DeHart (percussion).

Gendall consulted with the performers and witnessed techniques Dr DeHart had invented on his many percussion instruments. This enabled the composer to imagine sound and timbre possibilities, “playing with resonance, pitch flexibility, timbral variation, contact points, implements and more”.

The resulting work, Crazing, references the networks of fine lines and cracks on the surface of porcelain, explored musically as intricate textures, built from splintering lines, gestures or tone colours.

Exploring more of the programme

Stalwart of New Zealand composition Michael Norris (Victoria University of Wellington) wrote indrifts, a duet for violin (Professor Menzies) and percussion (Dr DeHart). In the work they are cast less as musicians and more as sound creators. The two instruments — violin and bass drum — are featured as two sound-making items amongst a variety of organic objects such as driftwood, foliage, and sand. The score acts as a guide for interaction between the players, in which they explore various states of being.

Ōtautahi-based composer Alex van den Broek wrote After War for the collective last year and continues to develop the theme of the impact of war in a new work for this concert.

Van den Broek says, “I have been interested in war and its effects on the individual and society for most of my adult life. I don’t understand the need or desire for war, so in a perverse way, I try to come to terms with this by reading about wars and the histories that follow them.”

In this work, van den Broek uses contrasting textures and timbres to evoke stages of time and shifting human points of view on the horrifying acts committed during wartime.

Street View Sketches is Canadian Nicholas Denton Protsack’s collection of short, standalone pieces designed to evoke significant physical places that have significance to him.

“Each piece attempts to create a sonic impression of actually experiencing it. This might include emulating the general atmosphere of a place, or the sounds one hears while there, or even the kind of mindset one might be in when visiting,” he says.

Protsack has included GPS coordinates in the titles, so the audience can look up these places on Google Street View.

Finally, Stuart Saunders Smith, who is based in Maine, United States, and has over 150 compositions to his name, has composed a work for cLoud Collective. Inner Light will comprise the entire second half of the programme. The work has an atmospheric tone and audiences have previously been encouraged to bring pillows and lie or sit on the floor when experiencing this work. At Alert Level 2, however, audiences will be encouraged to imagine themselves in this setting.

MIL OSI