In time to mu­sic and na­ture

Com­poser Kate Moore draws from the vis­ual arts and out­side world in her work, writes Wil­liam Yeo­man

The West Australian - - WEEKEND ARTS -

Dutch-Aus­tralian com­poser Kate Moore is the lat­est lucky artist to take up a 12-month res­i­dency at Dalkeith’s her­itage-listed Gal­lop House, fol­low­ing pre­vi­ous res­i­den­cies by An­drew Batt-Raw­den and Mace Francis.

Part of the Pre­lude Com­posers Res­i­den­cies man­aged by Bun­danon Trust, the pro­gram, which orig­i­nally started at late Aus­tralian com­poser Peggy GlanvilleH­icks’ Syd­ney home, al­lows com­posers to fo­cus al­most ex­clu­sively and for an ex­tended pe­riod of time on pro­duc­ing new work. The WA res­i­dency is the re­sult of a part­ner­ship be­tween the Na­tional Trust of West­ern Aus­tralia and the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Com­posers’ Trust.

Based in the Nether­lands, Moore is an ac­claimed Grammy-nom­i­nated com­poser of in­ter­na­tional stature whose works have been widely per­formed and recorded by artists and en­sem­bles such as The Nether­lands Ra­dio Phil­har­monic, The Bang on a Can All-Stars, The Calder Quar­tet and the Song Com­pany.

Her mu­sic ex­hibits or en­gen­ders clar­ity rather than mere sim­plic­ity, di­rect­ness rather than mere ac­ces­si­bil­ity, sen­su­ous­ness rather than mere at­trac­tive­ness. Her most re­cent large-scale work is the 40-minute or­a­to­rio Sa­cred En­vi­ron­ment, com­mis­sioned for the 2017 Hol­land Fes­ti­val.

As the en­vi­ron­men­tal themes of her mu­sic and ce­ramic sound sculp­tures sug­gest, Moore’s im­mer­sion in mu­sic is syn­ony­mous not only with her im­mer­sion in the vis­ual arts but with her im­mer­sion in na­ture. They are all of a piece. “Vis­ual arts and mu­sic ex­ist in space,” she says.

“They are cor­po­real and hap­pen in real time. The vis­ual art be­comes the mu­sic, which is an or­ganic log­i­cal pro­gres­sion from it. They are in­ter­re­lated and it seems strange to sep­a­rate them. I al­ways think about struc­tur­ing shapes so they speak, whether in sound or ma­te­rial form.”

Moore ap­proaches a sculp­ture and a com­po­si­tion in the same way. “A sound in­stal­la­tion is an or­ches­tral work and an or­ches­tral work is a sculp­ture. You cre­ate sounds in an ar­chi­tec­tural space and the mu­sic in­fil­trates your in­ner be­ing.”

She says na­ture and the en­vi­ron­ment are an in­te­gral part of that cre­ative process. “I enjoy be­ing in na­ture, dis­cov­er­ing na­ture and be­com­ing more aware of its rich­ness and com­plex­ity as well as its fragility,” she says. “As a com­poser, you har­monise with na­ture, you draw some­thing from it, you con­nect with it.”

Be­ing on a hill over­look­ing the Swan River fore­shore, Gal­lop House pro­vides am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for such en­coun­ters with the nat­u­ral world. But there are also those en­coun­ters with the self in a space emp­tied of hours.

“The house is amaz­ing and I have no other dis­trac­tions,” Moore says. “No tele­vi­sion, no in­ter­net. At first I thought ‘What do I do with no struc­ture and an empty space?’ Then I found my­self fall­ing into a rou­tine.

“The only way to click into the day is write some­thing in words or sit at the piano and see what hap­pens. I like that way of start­ing, with no real ob­jec­tive, just do­ing some­thing ev­ery­day and then re­flect­ing on it. Tak­ing a line for a walk, keep­ing my mind as free as pos­si­ble.”

Moore’s de­ci­sion to be­come a com­poser grew out of her own na­ture. “It was a part of my per­son­al­ity right from the be­gin­ning,” she says. “As a kid I liked to make stuff up. I loved the imag­i­nary world. I es­pe­cially liked to draw and, from a young age, I kept go­ing. I learnt piano and cello, and was in or­ches­tras and en­sem­bles. But I was never that com­fort­able be­ing on stage, in front of peo­ple. I pre­fer to hide and make things.”

Her de­ci­sion to write mu­sic that spoke to the heart was like­wise in­stinc­tual. “I re­ally wanted to write mu­sic that speaks to peo­ple, that res­onates with them,” she says. “It’s where I per­son­ally be­come en­tan­gled with the mu­sic. It can be some re­mem­bered mu­si­cal lan­guage, per­haps folk mu­sic, that is in one’s blood.

“There is also that power mu­sic has to tell sto­ries and in­spire col­lec­tive mem­ory or re­veal truths, that per­haps other medi­ums can’t. You can touch on things that might be too un­com­fort­able in words.”

Pic­ture: Marco Gi­ugliarelli

Kate Moore with some of her work.

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