Alice Chance explains why witchery, rather than madness, is the focus of her latest composition.

Work Infernal Women
ComposerAlice Chance
Scored forChamber choir
PremiereSeptember 20, 2016
Performers Luminescence Chamber Singers, Gordon Hamilton

When I found out I’d be writing for a concert entitled  Descent into Madness, my brain was initially flooded with possibilities. The piece would be theatrical, ridiculous, ‘madness’ would give me an excuse to write everything I secretly wanted to write without admitting I secretly wanted to. Just filling a brief!

However, with more thought about the word, I grew more uncomfortable with my ideas. Whilst we could normally expect to hear the word ‘madness’ from a parent describing their toddler-ridden household or a professional referencing their diary, it’s unfortunately still true that a person with mental illness might hear the word in reference to them. With a fragile but steady growth of mental health awareness in Australia, was my contribution really going to be one of trivialisation?

No. Well, not on purpose. Titles like  Requiem for the mad or  If you’re mad and you know it, clap your hands never had a good ring to them anyway. So I looked into the past, back to a practice that was worldwide, spanned...