Chris Gendall profile

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride nz.com [00:00:05] I'm a composer and I've love right now between Wellington internet and mostly Nathan this year, but but I'm consider myself basically a willing Tony and I've been here since just before High School. And before that I grew up and Hamilton and then moved down when I was about 10 or 11. And then went to high school and Wellington did undergraduate and a little bit of postgraduate inventory in visiting Madison and then overseas. I left in the States, upstate New York and a little town called FK. We also did some study in New York City after that before coming back to New Zealand, about what, five or six years ago [00:01:01] in the reason you are commuting between Wellington and unevenness, because you are the current most upcoming, [00:01:07] that's right, you might have fellowship is the the composition or the music fellowship that's run by the University of Otago. So these are writers one called over when fellowship is a visual arts one called the Francis Hodgkin's fellowship and a couple of other different ones that are run at of different departments that the music one is the Mozart fellowship. [00:01:31] So how did you get into composing? [00:01:33] I played piano when I was a kid, quite poorly, and I was a really terrible piano student, because I, I didn't really like practicing that much. And, and I was I was always quite good at sight reading. So I, I would cite read my lessons, I was terrible. I'd never really practiced anything. I was grateful. But I in high school, got into competition had a really good sort of competition itinerant teacher, and then Gary will be who used to come into our high school. And he introduced me to some things that I really fell in love with things like music by people like Stockhausen little Swarovski in, in other contemporary composers, and and I really, I found that fascinating. And those sorts of moments that broaden your horizons that blew my mind. They're really interesting. So I got into composing been, I've been doing it ever since. So I would have been about 16, I started almost 20 years ago. [00:02:43] So what was it about contemporary composition that that really kind of fired you up? What What can you describe what were the things that kind of, [00:02:51] I think the the main thing is, there was a feeling that anything could happen in MIT, and that anything was possible in. And that's, that's not something that you always experience, especially, you know, when you're a student, you don't have the kind of ability that professionals have. And so you don't always feel that you're in control of the sounds, you want to make a fear performer. Or if you're just sort of learning about things, but just hearing a universe that, that can imagine any kind of combination of sounds and make it logical and, and to some degree, beautiful. I found that really, really special and quite poignant. [00:03:38] And it's really interesting, because when you think about things like say, Beethoven, which is very kind of stable, and you know, you have a sense that this is, this is how it goes, it's interesting that you're kind of going for quite the opposite, we're actually in the thing can, [00:03:54] yeah, and in some ways, I'm things like 345, by seven and myself, I've kind of come before them, but with this idea that historically, what they were doing was also, you know, really broadening horizons and really blowing people's minds. And today's context, that seems much more traditional, much more conventional, but but in their own context that was was quite experimental, I guess you can say that really pushing the boundaries as well. But this is something I think that was really attractive to, to the teenage mean, in he remains very attractive. I think it's, I still find things and other people's music in and hopefully in my own music as well, that a little discoveries that the broaden the possibilities around possibilities. And I'm always I'm always looking for this, I think. [00:04:55] So how do you react to listening to your own work? [00:05:00] It's interesting, because it's because you know it so well. It's existed in your imagination for so long, when when you do finally hear a performance, that, that, that when you are hearing it, it's it can be almost surreal. In sometimes it's almost that you have to force yourself into a situation where you listen almost objectively, as if you're listening to someone else's work, otherwise, you're not gonna be able to be professional, if he ever have a sense of what what needs to have an author. So usually, I think it can be really overwhelming. In sometimes it's terrifying, especially first rehearsals, because you know, I write tricky stuff. And it takes a little while to get together. And sometimes if you're at the first rehearsal, that can be a bit heartbreaking, but I'm under the right circumstances, I am sometimes moved in unusual ways. And I think for the the way that other people would listen to it would be quite different. I think that that what I what I hear, and maybe that his sort of different features or different [00:06:24] salient points of interest for me than others, [00:06:27] that must be really useful in the rehearsal process to actually have the composer the so that you can actually discuss what musicians what, what you're intending, and they can. [00:06:36] I think, I think the scenario, I think, I think, sometimes the composer can get in the way, but this is different, is that with rehearsals of any sort this, these those little magic moments where it's all kind of working in the entire mechanism is working as it should. And in sometimes, the executives, you said the composer can really offer insight into how it goes. But sometimes it's just impractical. But it's, it's great to be there for herself. That's when it's going well, that's so that's the most fun that music can ever be rehearsals more than performances, actually, when it's when it's going well, and your brand's engaged, it's, it's pretty amazing. [00:07:28] So what you imagine, to begin with, does that translate easily onto the page? Do you find that what actually comes up in the in the rest of us hearing isn't the same as what you hear? [00:07:42] Yes, if I'd say, I'd say, most of the time. I'm quite a slow composer. I'm quite detail oriented in so I think very, very hard, about [00:07:57] about every day shall and every, every night and up rhythm and [00:08:05] and I know that most composers, I feel like most composers do think quite hard about it as well, I just think it's, it's just something that that I really am. I really sink my teeth into. And because of that, that's it. So [00:08:25] I guess [00:08:27] well worked out and my head that we notice on the page, it's just that it's just so there's obviously room for interpretation and certain regards, but but basically, I think what what I'm going for, comes out [00:08:46] 95% of the time here. [00:08:49] And another interesting thing, I guess is that you're working in such detail, and spending a lot of time over, but for an audience, they're hearing it in real time. So the ice suppose that time span is quite different, isn't it? [00:09:04] Yeah, these are these are lovely. Tension, and actually, at some men that I think composers all exploit or they will explore, I guess is, is the amount of mystery that the the music has. It's it's not something that's that's immediate, it's not something that's transparent. It's something we can create kind of clouds and, and in, in a sort of hazy quality. No matter what the expression as an end, it's something that composers have always used. Yeah. And that's why I'm back so contrapuntal, it's twice with what the mechanism of of half people can hear things and, and it's an it's a really beautiful thing. And fit. For me transparency and clarity at least desirable, then kind of mystery in that sort of cloudy aspect. Yeah. [00:10:12] So are you writing for an audience? Are you writing for yourself? Who are you writing for [00:10:18] five years to both? I think, yeah. So I'd like to think of myself as an audience member in it. And I was like to say that I write for the listener and then can be visited that it's, however, case to case listen to it. But But I think that, you know, audiences smart, and they have they have an appetite for things that are that are slightly out outside of the box? And that's what I do or what I try and do in wall? Well, not everyone's going to be engaged by that immediately. I think that there's possibility for, for any, what it's me, but to find something in there. [00:11:08] And like you were saying earlier that in his time, Beethoven was kind of out of the box. And now it seems quite standard. So it's interesting, isn't it? How kind of, you know, fashions and what people consider to be mainstream [00:11:23] changes? Yeah, of course, of course. And, you know, the people that and in all realms of music, I think there are people who are trying to push the boundaries. It's just with what I do, it's probably the the boundary pushing aspects of it, probably the most salient aspects to an audience, that's, that's probably what, what strikes them straight away, rather than, rather than for, you know, pop music or something like that, where, where there might be people who are trying to explore different things, it's just the same day speaks, the more [00:12:02] immediate and kind of easily recognizable. [00:12:07] So if I see to you name one emotion that you were what was the main emotion in your music? What would what would that conversion be? [00:12:16] I'd like to think that there are quite a few. But for me, I like the idea of, [00:12:23] of aggression or latent aggression. In that sense. It's not necessarily that all of my music is violent, but I think these are an increase of quality that, that I think comes out of a few different places, if I'm talking about us, [00:12:46] the way that [00:12:49] and modern culture, the way that you greet your group of visitors or the way that people can together, the kind of ceremony and the kind of ritual hits elements of aggression that note, but it's not an order to freshen people, it's in order to welcome them. And there, and there are obviously traditional reasons for that. But these are sort of BC and next, and I think, equality that that I that I'm a traitor to happens American cultures as well, this is a Korean music theater style called pan, sorry. And it's a real sort of defiant kind of aggression, and mortality of the old Madison's hip, this as well. So I think that kind of quality is, is quite special. To me, my music doesn't sound like these these things really, but but sort of emotional quality that I am quite attracted to. [00:13:56] This year is the 30th anniversary of homosexual form. And so I thought I'll bring the two strains together. How do you think sexuality and music composition into? We've all do they all don't they? How's that for you? [00:14:14] It's really hard to say actually, because I think [00:14:19] it's probably different depending on where you are in history. In my lifetime, it's gone from being illegal to be gay, to being basically pretty widely accepted. And in. And so, I think that some of the kind of real world challenges that older guy composes head just never kind of be the reality for me, of composers around my age. So, you know, what links mean, Tchaikovsky, nothing really, you know, in terms of terms of that. So, I wonder how months obviously, that's, that's a part of my life to be gay. And, and that's, you know, a big part of my universe, but I don't know, if that translates to, you know, the nights on the page, a bit of a gay chord to my music or anything like that. But I'm the, yeah, I think, looking at other composers throughout history, so you know, whether they're in New Zealand people at Jake body, even Douglas Logan, the impact that it had, would be really different for them, because it was a different time it was and they were much, much bigger challenges, you know, Douglas, I think was basically closeted, can say, in so that's definitely going to have an impact on the way he works. And the same with you know, older composers, sort of the 19th century, people like Takaki Ravel, whereas somebody like john cage, it was probably an SS. Now, he was able to communicate with his partner Miss Miss Cunningham, and, and other people in the gay community. And so 3d had to say exactly what kind of impact it would have. On Me, I don't know if this is kind of something in my music that that reflects it or not. Other people can really say, [00:16:35] has it been an area that you've wanted to kind of explore? And [00:16:41] I'm not really sure, I guess, I was lucky. So that extra musical subjects, then might be things that that could come up, I don't know, I'm probably the closest thing. [00:17:00] These days, I'm sort of looking at it. [00:17:05] It sounds from my everyday life and creating transcriptions of like little sound samples with the like a bird call or something really simple, like the pen of speech or kind of water dripping into a class or something like this, and transcribing them and and re synthesizing them orchestrating them and different circumstances. And the last piece I've finished, hit, I'm, I used a little kind of clip of an obscure Disco Song. And that doesn't, you can't hear it in the piece. It's not, there's no kind of Sonic line drawn between that and the result. But I guess because it's in the background, maybe there's some, some aspect of us that that kind of quotidian existence is an element of gay culture, at least. Albeit from a different time in a time before I was born. So that's, that's another another thing, but it's something just something that I find that I'm fond of, and that I find interesting. [00:18:22] Maybe it's a kind of a wider than competition question. I guess it in terms of as a as a younger gay man, do you feel that you need to be out there as a gay person, or it's just part of your life. [00:18:38] I feel like I need to [00:18:42] be, be honest, upfront, in natural about, about being a gay person that is a part of my life, I don't feel any need to behave in any way other than, than what I feel comes natural. And I feel really lucky that I can live in a time when I can do that I can just be myself, I can be K, I can have a boyfriend. And and we can walk around town, like normal people and have Christmas with my family and my nieces and nephews birthday parties and, and that's all totally fine. Maybe it's not totally fine to everyone, but that's so in it. And it's, it's no trouble for them. It's nice, gonna be nice. So I feel really kind of fortunate in that regard. And in that I don't have to hide anything about myself or eight in any particular way. That's really [00:19:50] it's an asset. [00:19:54] You mentioned earlier, about check body we just named chip jack, you're quite close friendship with jack. And I'm just wondering, he passed a year ago, just over a year ago. What was jack like [00:20:10] jack was, was a kind of amazing guy. He was magnanimous is a is a personality, and in a safe as a human being. He was very personable and very familiar. Both he and his partner was very welcoming, in any great musical mind as well. And somebody who really did like to engage with, with other musicians that he that he that he saw talented or that he studied, his music, he found interesting. So I was, was really lucky to be part of this circle. Both in New Zealand and overseas, when you go overseas, you're from New Zealand, and you're involved in contemporary music, they'll always ask you if you know, jack, he's the one that everyone knows. So he's the verses that are afflicted on on this personality, but also on his kind of generosity of spirit. And it was it was also can be, you know, tricky. Sometimes he had lots of ideas. And he was he wanted to do a lot of things. And you often had a job to do so. And including after his passing, he still had work to do for him, which was, which was interesting, but that just that's part of being a friend today. But he he really didn't like the idea of [00:21:48] family in and I use it both in [00:21:52] the sense of day, perhaps but but also just the idea of having people around him and him that he that he could provide kind of support to and this way in. [00:22:10] Yeah. So it was [00:22:14] it was almost from the get go and much closer relationship to you than you'd expect. It was much more intimate and much more interested in your life in general than then then you would expect from a competition teacher, so. But he was really kind and very generous, especially professionally, he really provided a lot of opportunity to me and some other people. And my situation as well. And I really thank God, I wouldn't be a competitor. If it wasn't protect us. It was but the reason that I wanted to study at a high level, in his end, he provided the kind of opportunities that meant that I can become professional and sort of make that next step. [00:23:14] What kind of ongoing impact do you think he will have on you? [00:23:21] I think about Jay quite a lot actually in, [00:23:26] in sometimes when I'm working on something or [00:23:32] if I'm at a concert somewhere or if there's something coming up, I always think to myself, I think jack would really would really love this I can really hit had fun. That's really exciting. And and it's I'm not I'm not alone. And that I think that a lot of people find out about the work that they do is sort of his presence, I guess. [00:24:02] I think that he's also made me want to, [00:24:10] to explore the idea of community and to try and enrich this sense of community within New Zealand. Composition and new music. And I think that that's I think that's really something that the audience that that we that we're that we owe Jeff and in New Zealand music a nothing that there's something that has to continue. Probably, you know, he was just one guy who was able to do all these things. And I think it will take more than one guy to do more of this going forward. But that's that's definitely something that that I feel is his legacy. [00:25:00] He was struck me as just this. He was like an energizer bunny. You know, I was just like the most amazing amount of energy. And so many projects on the go at any one time. [00:25:13] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And and it's I think it's partly why Broadway's had a job to do because he was he's just doing so much. Yeah. And walking into Jake's office or into his home, sometimes felt like you're with a wall of stuff to do and think about, which was great, was exciting, but also hard work. And so, yeah, he was, he was really, he was tireless and really dedicated to this and, and yeah, [00:25:48] step up a little bit. [00:25:51] And he actually wrote a number of quite moronic pieces done the I'm thinking of the Michelangelo sonnets, and also the real reality [00:25:58] opera, reality yesterday, we led Opera in a piece called Stations of the Cross, which is a solo piano guitar piece that he wrote for, for Dan point, and but there's quite a lot of, it's almost choreographic in the way it's written. And this is definitely a lot of sort of erotic imagery. And theatre, Kelsey, and it [00:26:25] must be quite interesting just to to go back and look at say, like Jack's work, but it was also really so like a moons work. And in See, I mean, do you see kind of hammer erotic elements or having sexual elements so I can Logan's work. [00:26:41] It's really hard to say and jack read a little article for the composer's Association yearbook, which was called Cantona a few years ago in in, I'm not sure if I see anything necessarily Logan's work. That's how ironic, I think a lot of it is about mythic lunacy, though. And the certain things I'm thinking in particular of things, Harry, and the return, those are the two that that I think, have elements of, of masculinity and kind of New Zealand masculinity, which is interesting. But I think what chick article, if I remember rightly, sort of suggested was that they'll go and hit these kind of obsessions. And that somehow reflected kind of gay sensibility. I don't know if I agree. But it's, it's there. And I'm trying to think of of many gay composers and in what elements of of the music is that kind of sensibility or the elements of Homer Roddick imagery in obviously Britain as an obvious example, because these operas, what often around gay things, especially different Venus in paid Grimes. [00:28:17] But for john case, or [00:28:21] Samuel Barber, [00:28:23] rebel, I'm not really sure of that kind of apply, if that's something that's there. But with jack, I think it was really something that he felt the need to do. And I think it was something that really fascinated him. He was also a sense of humor was, was really amazing. And he had this this preoccupation preoccupation with, with kit, which is really interesting. And so things like the kind of I guess it's like an oratorio. But what what he did about some common roof a visit an awful lot of kind of kids and Nathan, it's really interesting and quite, sort of cute, quite away, which is nice. [00:29:22] A few years ago, I think it was like 2013 Samuel Holloway put on a concert in Auckland that, I think was billed as the first concert featuring all rainbow composers from New Zealand. And I was wondering, how do you how do you see something like that concept? Like, I mean, if you are not saying that you've got you can see gay elements in your composition, but to be included in a concert that is specifically about rainbow composers? I guess the question is, are you happy to see yourself as a gay composer? [00:29:58] Of course, yes. And I think when you're programming concepts, if you want to build a link, and it can sometimes feel a little a little bit arbitrary, but it's something that you can that you can do to tie content together in the concert hit it amazing range of composers, if I remember rightly, David Hamilton, I think same, you might have had a piece in there, click on that these are very, very different and, and distinct voices. So I think I'm using some kind of underlying little background element to tie something that has an enormous amount of variety that was interesting in itself. So, of course, this [00:30:50] being programmed on the console, I thought it would be interesting. [00:30:55] Regardless, especially if it was approached in that way, sense of variety. [00:31:03] You were saying that you're currently working on a competition that dealing with kind of everyday sounds and looking recent for sizing, can you tell me more about that? [00:31:11] Yeah, so [00:31:14] I tend to make little recordings, we use [00:31:19] recordings of very, very small things, in the in [00:31:24] transcribe them, so [00:31:26] I take the kind of the rhythm and perhaps quality, but using technology now, you can also transcribe the color. So the the amount of the upper partials or the the harmonic series that that's resonating, and that's not that prominent or not as prominent as the fundamental parts, but they kind of give some color. And, and because of this, sort of, you're able to explore the things that Mike, I don't know, a guitar sound like a guitar or a bell sound like a bell, that sort of thing. And, and those elements that that they give it that color, are often a little bit chaotic and very interesting sonically. And so the sorts of things that I like to kind of resonate throughout my pieces and explore and detail. So that's, that's what I've been doing. And it's, I guess, it creates a bond abstract, it's still a sonic link, but the link to these sounds, that's not about the context necessarily, but, but about the way they resonate. And the way they they their reverberates. And both space and also a memory, something that I that I like, [00:32:57] so how do you pick those sounds? Initially, what what sparks you when you hear something around you what [00:33:04] it's usually in a trick and a creative quality to the, to the cover. And, and so that for me something like water dripping into a glass his, his a lot of interesting color. To me, it's, it's, it's a little bit chaotic is a sound and, and also quite beautiful. But it's the, in some senses that the packing sounds can be almost arbitrary. Just because it's just something that that's part of your life or part of your everyday existence. And so it's the element that I like in from there. That's all about the wishing others what ends up being the composition of, of what they look minutia that might get the sound. [00:34:03] So in about a month's time, you're getting back down to doing. [00:34:07] Yes, I'll be back. And a few weeks. Yeah. And be big music school, then. Yeah. [00:34:16] And so when you're at the music school, what kind of wisdom Do you impart on for younger composers? [00:34:25] I don't know if there's anything in particular, that I impart, I tend to just, I like to see what people are up to, in in see what what they like in music and and in what kind of things they're doing. And then look for ways that I can possibly expand on that and, and in fun ways to antiques, [00:34:52] antique little sort of [00:34:55] SBX, or moments of interest. And, and, and kind of encourage them to explore the extremes of some of these things. But usually, I think that composers always, they have ideas, and, and it's about getting those ideas to be [00:35:22] to be more fruitful in, in finding ways to get them to, [00:35:28] to both work, but also to, to sort of be much more natural and much broader is his musical ideas. [00:35:38] So you're still quite young, but there's a generation coming up after this. So I'm guessing you're you're you're interacting with the next generation coming up, [00:35:48] you say I guess so. Yeah, not so yeah. [00:35:53] Do you? Do you see much difference between say, like, your age group, and the end that people coming through now? [00:35:59] intelligence? Yeah, there's, there is a difference in I think the difference is, is partly due to technology. I'm a pencil and paper composer. And, and that's always how, how I learned and, and, and I also, you know, I was a composer who used to just go to the libraries and look at school. So so that was that was how, how I worked. I think younger composers have a better grasp, but much more access to technology. A lot of them don't write anything down. They work straight on computers. They do a lot of listening, but but they have access, access to libraries all over the place. You know, I used to have to go to the library and then and find find back so yeah, I'm finding that being much more digitally, sort of, we're in and that's, that's a big a big change. But you know, otherwise, you'd see a lot of comparisons and, and and its master is to be able to talk about when you are you You are the right or you're at the stage of competition. So yeah

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.