burlesques mécaniques (NZTrio Commission – premiere October 2012)
Composer - Taylor, Alex
Alex Taylor is one of New Zealand’s leading young composers of orchestral and chamber music. His music has been performed by prominent artists, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, 175 East and NZTrio. He completed his Masters in Composition under the supervision of Dr Eve de Castro-Robinson and Associate Professor John Elmsly at Auckland University in 2011. Alex’s works have been featured in concerts in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, China, America and Europe.
In 2012 Alex was the youngest recipient to date of the SOUNZ Contemporary Award for his work [inner] for viola and orchestra, for which he was also awarded the NZSO-Todd Young Composer Award, as well as the Orchestra’s Choice Award. He has won numerous prizes and scholarships through Auckland University, including winning the 2009 Lilburn Trust Competition. 2012 saw Alex complete a residency with the NZSO-National Youth Orchestra, and commissions for the NZTrio, 175 East and The Committee.
As well as being a composer, Alex curates the Intrepid Music Project, a series of contemporary arts events focusing on new music and poetry. He plays a variety of instruments, including violin, saxophone and piano, sings, conducts, and writes on musical and non-musical topics. He has performed in a variety of groups including Auckland Youth Orchestra, DSCH String Quartet, the Blackbird Ensemble and Dr Colossus. Alex is a regular contributor to the LOUNGE poetry readings and his poems have been published in Potroast, minarets and JAAM.
The composer writes: “ burlesques mécaniques is a collection of grotesque miniatures whose characters are not people or animals but dances. These dances have been mechanised, electrified, and often obscured by their own rhythmic impulse. Old forms are given new identities, freed from the confines of metric stability and the expectation that they be “danceable”. The essentially mechanical, artificial aspect of music (and of art in general?) is embodied in the piano, here a brittle, seedy protagonist whose string limbs hover and flail about it. Conflicting rhythms dominate the surface, oscillating between insistent repetition and mad, angular flourishes. The generally jerky, muscular rhythmic material is periodically frozen throughout the work, most strikingly in the ninth movement (chain). Here a string of rich, impressionistic chords briefly reveals an alternative, interior world which is then rudely dismissed in an almost haphazard finale.”