Recently I’ve been keen to consecrate jarringly humdrum language in choral music. In Toy Story 3 = Awesome!I set Facebook status-updates and in The 9 Cutest Things That Ever Happened, I turned a Buzzfeed article about cute animals into a faux-Anglican chant. When the mundane is recycled into art, it can be elevated to an ironic and oddly contemplative level.
For Ghosts in the Orchestra, commissioned by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, I decided to have my choir, The Australian Voices, stand playfully among the orchestral musicians, prompting them with sung instructions: “semitone… different… darker… longer… halve the bow pressure”.
The orchestra enthusiastically complies, unrolling the commandments into symphonic gestures. A main chord is established: “enjoy the chord: isn’t it just – wicked!? …remember this chord.”
Recently at The Australian Voices we’ve commissioned several new works that blur the meaning of the word ‘composer’. In We Apologise, for example, Rob Davidson slowed down the recording of Kevin Rudd speaking those two words from the historic parliamentary apology. That five-minute sound was then sung by the ensemble. In my own piece Tra$h Ma$h(the dollar signs in mock reverence for Ke$ha!), I stole tiny grabs of modern pop songs and pasted them together into...