COMPOSER-in-residence at the Canberra International Music Festival, Kate Moore, should not be confused with New York pianist Lisa Moore, whom we featured on the “CityNews” cover a couple of years ago.
But having said that, there’s a joke going around that the centrepiece concert at Mount Stromlo on May 5 should have been billed as “Moore plays Moore”.
Lisa, you see, will be playing a solo piano work commissioned from Kate by Lisa.
One thing Moore and Moore do have in common, however, is Irish heritage and to that end, Kate has been working on “Sliabh Beagh” (Last man of the land), looking back to her paternal ancestry. Residing in The Hague where she went to take a Masters at the Royal Conservatorium, she’s also been getting a feel for her maternal Dutch heritage.
Kate is a living example of the principle that when you’re hot, you’re hot. Known for her masterly manipulation of time and colour, she has been praised by one critic for her “hypnotically-shifting intertwining planes of sound”.
She’s also an ANU School of Music graduate who studied here with David Pereira and Larry Sitsky. Her 2014 work “The Art of Levitation” was commissioned by Carnegie Hall. She has a residency at November Music in the Netherlands later this year, a swag of cds to her name and a phone that runs hot with offers.
Festival director Roland Peelman isn’t giving Kate much spare time to explore old haunts while she’s in Canberra. With three new commissions, including the opening-night premiere of the annual “Beaver Blaze” for Betty Beaver, that solo piano work at Mt Stromlo and a composition where Lyn Fuller plays the National Carillon and Kate plays the cello part, she will also give presentations, listen to pre-composed works of her own and later give lectures at the ANU.
“At first you’re ecstatically assigned and excited, then you have to face the reality,” she says of working to commission. Luckily, in the case of “Sliabh Beagh”, she reports, “it was really cool, because it meant I could go back into familial history”.
It’s dedicated to her late grandfather, a dairy farmer in the Hunter Valley.
“I really took on the Irish way of telling stories, there’s darkness in it, but it’s also kind of ecstatic,” she says.
The composition, part of a project Lisa Moore has undertaken about her own Irish heritage, starts with a song that Lisa will sing – “keeping the tradition of folk – the performer is the one telling the story, not me,” Kate says.
The newest “Beaver Blaze” will be a “big ensemble piece” for which Kate has mixed Baroque and modern musicians playing electric guitar, keyboard vibraphone, sax didgeridoo, played at opposite ends of the auditorium.
As for the third piece, it’s the first time she has composed for the Carillon.
“But Carillon is very much in my ears all the time – it’s a huge tradition in the Lowlands, there’s one in every church, on the corner of every street,” she says.
Peelman is happy to let Kate do the talking.
Since the event is subtitled “Music, Einstein and You”, he’s talked himself half to death about Albert Einstein and, at first, jokes: “It’s everything to do with the hair,” pointing to one obvious similarity between the great scientist and Beethoven.
But seriously, in this centenary year of the Theory of Relativity, it seemed the least one could do.
“His mind was attuned to physics, but it was free and open creatively – that’s what we all need and it’s the basis of all music making… this is a city where people get that kind of thing,” Peelman says.
“Music, Einstein and You!” The Canberra International Music Festival 2015, May 1-10, bookings and full program at cimf.org.au