I hope your holidays were splendid. It’s sweltering hot here in Adelaide, but nonetheless I’ve had a restful break following the intensity that the end of 2016 brought me, and have entered 2017 feeling pretty grand. That being said, in many ways it’s a case of new year, same old me; but that’s ok because the old me was on a bit of a roll. Continuing that roll into 2017, I’ve been awarded funding by Carclew Youth Arts to go and make stuff with some of my favourite people in the world. I’m incredibly honoured, and in a field of just ten recipients reminded what a privilege it is to be supported in what I do in these trying times for Australian arts.
It’s worth pointing out that this is only happening because of all of your support. Last year, a whole bunch of you helped me raise money to go to highSCORE Festival in Italy. In a particularly dramatic moment, I described the sense of momentum I felt behind my career as “exciting and terrifying at the same time”… I mean, I was right, but as I go onwards my idea of the scale of how exciting and terrifying being an artist can be is shifting rapidly. Thankfully, the excitement is definitely outweighing the terror at the moment. On that note, it was at that festival I met Amy Beth Kirsten, and needless to say we got on like a house on fire. She was keen for me to come and work with her, I was keen to learn from her, a whole bunch of grant applications/panicky emails later and here we are. I’ll also have the pleasure to finally work with dear friend, pianist Conrad Tao, and work on some new stuff with/for him and maybe even play a show… I’ll also be back in the Bay Area performing at some of my favourite places, but more about that in February.
So, those are the big things coming up. Some cool, little things have happened too though. I hope you’re enjoying the complete re-design of my website, which is an attempt to be make it more accessible, meet the needs of performers who want to perform my work, and be more comprehensive of the stuff I’ve done outside of being a soloist/composer. I’m also mid-way through training as an Audio Describer, which is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done (I cried when a more senior describer read her description of a Monet painting), and I can’t wait to see how it factors into my work in the future. If you didn’t know, you can also find me on Spotify (follow me!), and most of the other streaming services (get your act together, Pandora).
As usual, I’ll keep you in the loop about the exciting stuff that’s going down in my career. If “being the first to know about Dan Thorpe’s weird life” is one of your New Year’s Resolutions, my Facebook Page is the way to go. But, until then (or next time), have a wonderful January.
Amy Beth Kirsten
Amy Beth Kirsten’s music combines popular idioms with fierce expressionism and theatre and often requires musicians to play, vocalize, act, and move simultaneously. Her work is distinguished by an intense physicality that pushes players to extremes by making their bodies and voices instruments of artistic expression.
A composer, librettist, and vocalist, Ms. Kirsten begins the 2015-16 season in residence at Montclair State University (NJ) with her ensemble HOWL to develop Quixote – an evening length, theatrical work for three vocalists and vocalizing percussion quartet inspired by Cervantes. This 2-year residency culminates in a week of world premiere performances directed by Mark DeChiazza in March 2017.
Her most recent staged work, Colombine’s Paradise Theatre (video below), opened the 2014-15 seasons of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and New York’s Miller Theatre selling out both venues. The Washington Post called it a “tour de force” and said it has “a beguiling element of the grotesque throughout, and the music is complex and multilayered, rich in allusions, and often extraordinarily beautiful.” Anthony Tommasini at the New York Times found it “dark, wild and engrossing” with a “wondrously eclectic score, which combines spiky modernism, breezy pop, hints of Indian music, percussion wildness and more.” The work was commissioned and produced by the multi-Grammy-winning eighth blackbird and directed by Mark DeChiazza.
Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer, and has been dubbed a musician of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” by the New York Times, a “thoughtful and mature composer” by NPR, and “ferociously talented” by TimeOut New York. In June of 2011, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars and the Department of Education named Tao a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts awarded him a YoungArts gold medal in music. Later that year, Tao was named a Gilmore Young Artist, an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation. In May of 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Besides an honour roll longer than most would hope for in their career, Conrad is a dear friend and queer co-conspirator whose insight into my work and into classical music I have found challenging, affirming, and at times life changing. 2017 also marks the premiere of this central valley heat will kill us all, a work he commissioned from me in 2016.