Music Composers Unite!
G'day from Australia.
I am Paul Copeland 70 years young and as keen as mustard to get back to serious composing again.
I have zero musical qualifications, but was very fortunate in having the opportunity to study composition privately with Felix Werder for about eight years. He was one of Australia's most prolific composers. Most of his music has been performed in Europe. During the eight years that I studied composition with him, he never charged for a lesson.
I did go to the Melba Conservatorium and failed every subject except for piano and theory/harmony. Started learning the piano at the ripe old age of 15. Worked very hard and managed a few years later to get 6th grade honours AMEB. The extra pieces were some hard ones including some of the Chopin Nocturnes, Etudes, as well as some of the Preludes and Fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier book one. My father died when I was at the Con, so I had to stop my studies there. What was amazing was that composition was not a subject; I had to compose on my own. It was when I left the Con that my piano teacher introduced me to Felix Werder.
My most prolific time of composing serious music was from about 1970-1984. At the time I came down with a very serious kidney disease, acute diffuse prolific glomurelunephritis, which had the potential of causing me to go into kidney failure. Fortunately I met a wonderful caring doctor, who over the 10 years or so that I was under his care, saved my life. I remember him telling me that one of the drugs could make me very euphoric, and I wonder if this influenced me in my creativity and reasonably high musical output.
Felix had a small music ensemble 'Australia Felix', consisting of percussion, piano, synthesizer, clarinet, horn and a few other instrumentalist when needed. Felix took some of my compositions on tour throughout Europe.
Two of my pieces String Quartet 1, and Subterranean Rivers, for percussion horn, clarinet and percussion were broadcast over national radio. The string quartet which was performed by members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, gave an atrocious performance of my work. Indeed a few weeks before the broadcast, they were threatening not to play the piece, but because they were under contract they were forced to play the piece, hence the appalling performance.
It was quite amusing at the time, because Aaron Copland was the composer of the month, and his music was on the radio frequently. Friends would say to me that they had heard my music on the radio. I would smile and nod my head, knowing that it wasn't my music, but Aaron's :)
I stopped serious composition at the time for two reasons.
1. I had some atrocious performances.
2. My ability at notating music was extremely poor.
I felt that it was ridiculous me spending perhaps 3/4 of an hour on one bar, only to have the bar butchered by professional musicians.
Nevertheless the years from 1984 to the present were still years of creativity for me. For those of you who are oldies :) and can remember the VIC 20 and the Commodore 64, I wrote some computer books of games. One book was called How to make music on a Vic 20. I only had 4k of memory to use for the program. How computer technology has changed!
I then became quite involved with computer graphics and received a commendation for my computer print Suspicious Shapes from the Diary of a Madman, which I created using the program Autolisp. The print, actually a computer plot was entered into what was advertised as the first computer art competition. The adjudicator who awarded the commendation was Professor Gartel, one of the founders of computer art.
From the mid 80's to a year ago, I taught piano at two Christian schools, and wrote a lot of easy piano pieces for my piano students, as well as guitar pieces and thirteen piano rags in the style of Scott Joplin.
On a personal note, I have been happily married since 1975. My wife Alison and I have a beautiful daughter Alicia, and two grandchildren Kaley and Nathaniel, aged four and two. They come to our home once a week.
We also care for a profoundly brain injured young man Grant. He is now 29 years old. We have been caring for him since he was 18 months old. His birth was normal, and then 36 hours after birth he started having seizures. He was only given 1-2 years to live. Well God has proven him wrong. Grant is now 29 years old and will be with us for the rest of his life. He has been rushed to hospital 70 times by ambulance with life threatening seizures. We would never want to prolong his life if he was in pain, but in his own way he is contented.
Although up until last year I had not composed any serious music, I decided to take up the challenge to be creative again, and entered Australia's most prestigious piano composition competition, the Jean Bogan Piano Composition Competition 2016. Entry is anonymous. To my amazement I won.
The pianist who played the world premiere on November 5th this month was Michael Kieran Harvery, who is considered by many as Australia's greatest living pianist. He specialises in performing Australian piano works, and playing world premieres. He is himself a composer of very high repute.
I want to get back to serious music composition again.
Here is one page, the CADENZA page from the score of the composition Audacious Binary Forms.
I will upload some of the music to the Music Analysis and Critique page in a few days and get your expert opinions.
Seeya there and hooroo for now.
PS. Best wishes to you all and keep on, keeping on.
Well I cannot imagine what Cadenza sounds like, but the picture is gorgeous. I think you should sell it as a poster, I would buy. Do let's hear some of your music soon!
Well I cannot imagine what Cadenza sounds like, but the picture is gorgeous. I think you should sell it as a poster, I would be. Do let's hear some of your music soon!
I truly enjoyed reading your wonderful bio. Your life story is full of creativity, human experience, compassion and kindness. It's good to get to know you through your writing. It will be great to get to know you even better through your music.
I wouldn't mind having a copy of the score you posted framed and hanging on the wall of my studio! Like Gav said, it's gorgeous!! What fun it must be to play with all the ideas posed in the Cadenza, and what a great test of musicianship for a pianist. I very much look forward to hearing Michael playing it.
Enjoy your late spring and summer down under, as we Northern Hemisphere folks move from fall to winter!
Thank you for your very kind words.
I admire what you are doing with your students. Wow to have them singing such difficult music is a complete credit to you and your teaching skills. I would love to see some of their compositions.
Regarding the live performance there was a bit of a technical glitch at the CON. This was the fourth time that they had done a live stream, and not much fun and games initially. Still the FB stream has now had over 600 plays, which is very good actually for this type of music.
I hope that you are on FB Julie and others watching, because without any more waiting I can relieve you of any more pent up anticipation :)
Here is the link for the live performance.
You will have to scroll down the page a little bit, but you won't miss the link. It has Michael Kieran Harvey's photo on the page with the title Jean Bogan Piano Composition Competition 2016.
Two pieces are performed, one by a young man who is an academic doing his degree in composition. Lots of brains here :) The other piece is by me a zero academic. A lovely binary construct which fits so well with the name of my piece Audacious Binary Forms.
Here is the link.
Please leave a comment. Thank you.
Hey Julie, it would be my pleasure to send you the high resolution file of the Cadenza if you like. The music is written and printed on A3 full colour pages. The cadenza printed and framed would look great, and might inspire your students to work hard :)
We are in the process of trying to get a high resolution file of the performance so that I can upload it to youtube, but technically you cannot download a high resolution live feed from FB. I also need to correspond with Michael to make sure that he is happy for me to upload his performance. Everything must of course be done correctly.
GIve me a hoy, and I can send you the high resolution file of the CADENZA
seeya at the live fee :)
Hello again Paul-
I'm very excited about your generous offer of a copy of the Cadenza! Now that we're Forum friends, we can continue this discussion in private email.
I don't use Facebook, and don't have a Facebook account. However, I was still able to sneak in and watch the performance. I got to watch you talk about it and made it through the part where Michael is plucking strings inside the piano. Then my students came pouring in, and now I can't get back to the performance. I'll keep trying! I found it very exciting! I do wish Michael or someone had elaborated on the shuffling of the cards at the beginning. The student shuffled the cards and they were placed on each of the two pianos. Michael then seemed to rearrange the scores a little, but not much. It would have been helpful to have a talk through of how the card shuffling related to the score order and how many permutations there could have been, etc. I've been introducing some of my students to aleatory music, so they'll enjoy getting to know more about your score!
Twenty or so years ago my best friend and I co-hosted a program called "Composers Works", for all composers in North Carolina. Three or four times a year we'd give a concert of newly written pieces. Several times we created and performed various types of aleatory music, and the audiences loved it! Some of the random performances sounded awful and some were masterpieces - we performers were just as excited as the audience, since we didn't know what would come next!!
It's fun, isn't it?
Now, to private mail to work out details!
Thanks so much for being here, Paul!
Hi Paul! Quite some life you've had/are having, very cool range of achievements and interests. Congratulations on your recent award.