Composing across the continents02 Oct 2009 15:40
Chris Gendall, recipient of the 2009 Edwin Carr Scholarship, has been globetrotting in recent weeks to attend prestigious composition courses and events in Europe, the UK, USA and Canada.
In September he took part in a course at the Fondation Royaumont in France, just north of Paris. "It was a wonderful course," Chris told us, "set in a 13th Century Abbey. I studied with Brian Ferneyhough, Isabel Mundry and Misato Mochizuki and the course culminated in the premiere of a new work. I was very fortunate to be assigned a vocal quartet for four members of the Neue Vocalsolisten of Stuttgart. Apart from a wee fragment, my vocal piece called Earthly Delights used no text. There were 15 composers from various corners of the globe: UK, US, Morocco, France, Spain, Italy, Singapore, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and Japan."
From there, Chris went across to the UK to take part in the prestigious Britten-Pears Composition Course. This course takes place every two years in Aldeburgh – the town where Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears settled. "The course, like Royaumont, is uncommonly good," Chris reflected. "It’s run by Oliver Knussen, Colin Matthews and Magnus Lindberg, along with performance faculty Anssi Kartunnen and Mike Thomson. It is a high-pressure week of composition for each of the six composers involved on a piece for chamber orchestra to be performed by excellent players from the UK and North America. Three of the composers were from the UK, and the other two were from Spain and Finland. My chamber piece is called Forest for the Trees."
From the UK Chris travelled back to the US via New York so as to hear the New Juilliard Ensemble premiere his Rudiments for orchestra at the end of September. And from there he travelled directly to the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada for an artistic residence in the mountains until the end of the year.
"Banff should be very nice and, I’m sure, quite productive," he mused "I’m not entirely sure what sort of format Banff will take, but it’s a large residency, with a number of musicians there. I have (so far) been extremely fortunate to be involved in courses with such high standards. I’ve been very impressed by the quality of the composers and performers around me, and have left with extra clarity and inspiration on my own work."