Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery

Creation: The Dorothy Ellen Ransom Prize in Musical Composition

Image of five musicians playing classical music

Creation: The Dorothy Ellen Ransom Prize in Musical Composition and Scratching the Surface: A selection of works from the Janet Holmes à Court Collection – a Campus Partnership with the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery and the School of Music.

UWA’s thriving community of emerging composers worked closely with mentors Christopher Tonkin and James Ledger, to create new and imaginative works for quartet and voice inspired by works exhibited in Scratching the Surface: A selection of works from the Janet Holmes à Court Collection.
Simon Lee Foundation Artist in Residence Shaun Lee-Chen (violin), celebrated soprano Jennifer Barrington and talented UWA string students, Jasmine Middleton (violin), Rachel Hicks (viola) and Jeremy Garside (cello), conducted by James Ledger premiered these new works at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery on Thursday evening 24 August as part of the public program run in conjunction with the exhibition.

Holly Broadbent’s Terra Incognita (2017) using a text from Randolph Stow’s The Merry-go-round in the Sea with visual inspiration from the artwork Setting Camp of the Naval Survey Expedition Clauses’s Lagoon, Perth, Western Australia, 1828 by Frederick Clause conveyed the breadth and harshness of the Australian environment. Harmonic tensions of the piece and elements of emotion conveyed the unique beauty and dynamic identity of Australian nature.

Kate Milligan’s Dunes (2017) an experiment in notation, stretched the limits of how musical information can be transmitted visually. The work’s form is derived quite literally from the contours and shapes of Maureen Hudson Nampijinpa’s Sand Dunes (Sunrise), 2012. It successfully created a bold connection between music and visual art, examining how ‘shape’ can impact a sonic aesthetic. The texture is homogenous throughout, yet is constantly shifting and changing, and in so doing suggests the nature of sand dunes; presenting as a whole, yet comprising millions of individual grains. Her piece received the People’s Choice Award.

Awarded The Dorothy Ellen Ransom Prize in Musical Composition, Stephen de Filippo’s Two Pieces (2017) used Brian Blanchflower’s Glimpses (An Earth History), 1986-1987, as a starting-point, and explored the re-contextualisation of the string quartet and singer combination, moving away from the art-song tradition and instead, presenting the soprano with a more-instrumental role. Blanchflower’s tachisme use of colour and darkness is characterised in Two Pieces. Much like Blanchflower’s way of conveying figures within the flux of his visual composition, Two Pieces attempts to showcase rather fleeting moments of unity within the overwhelming agitation of the ensemble’s interaction.

Nate Wood’s Midpoint (2017) sets a poem of the same title by West Australian poet W. Green, that deals with the immense age of the bush, and the time-scale on which it operates. Repetitive but irregular structures in the text and music are drawn from the broad expanse of kwongan scrubland of the South-West, patterned but ever-changing and wholly unique. Similar motifs were also inspired by the visual elements in Brian Blanchflower’s Glimpses (An Earth History), 1986-1987.


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Last updated:
Tuesday, 19 September, 2017 4:47 PM