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As a musical celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Melbourne Recital Centre, 10 composers have each created a new work to be performed at the Centre throughout 2019.

The 10 composers represent a diverse range of musical styles but are unified by their critical acclaim and dedication to their craft. The series features an outstanding line-up of composers and performers, with each work designed to connect audience and performer in an intimate and personal way, making a significant contribution to the repertoire, across a variety of styles.

The fourth commission to receive its world premiere is Kate Neal and Sal Cooper's Commuter Variations, to be performed by pianist Lisa Moore on Wednesday 7 August.

Composer Kate Neal

Kate Neal is an artist with over 20 years experience as a composer, arranger, teacher, artistic director and collaborator. She's been the recipient of many awards, scholarships and fellowships, including the 2016 Melbourne Prize for Music - Beleura Award for Composition. In 2018 Neal premiered 'While You Sleep' with long term collaborator visual artist Sal Cooper, at Arts House Melbourne. In 2017 Neal premiered 'Never Tilt Your Chair' at PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Art) with the Sound Collectors, as well as five short bagatelles, 'Eurus' for Arcadia Winds in the Musica Viva Schools program. A new work for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra chamber ensemble premiered in August 2017.

In 2016 Neal was awarded Performance and Instrumental Work of the Year at the Art Music Awards for her work Semaphore. In 2016 she presented the sell out performance of Permission To Speak, in collaboration with theatre maker Tamara Saulwick. 

Sal Cooper

Sal Cooper is an award-winning animator and artist from Melbourne, Australia. She produces work in theatrical, fine art and cinematic settings and is regularly exhibited both locally and internationally. She also produces screen-based material for the commercial sector as well as undertaking numerous filmmaking and animation projects within the community sector. Sal has exhibited her own work in a number of solo and many group shows. Sal has undertaken several public art projects and has attended residencies in Australia and overseas. She has received commissions to create screen-based work from Screen Australia, The Australia Council for the Arts, and the City of Melbourne. While now placing her practice in the field of visual arts and performative works, Sal has had much success in the past as an independent animated filmmaker. Her animated short films continue to be screened around the world and her film Song for a Comb was a prize-winning finalist in the 2009 Tropfest Short Film Festival.

What is the new work about? 

Commuter Variations consists of eight short hand-drawn animations that take a lyrical and sometimes absurd look at various aspects of commuting in modern urban life. From cyclists to escalator riders, they are designed to engage with the public about humorous, poignant or entirely imaginary issues and experiences of mass transit on public transport and in vehicular traffic. The work is designed for live performance with piano, performed and premiered by Lisa Moore.

Where did you get your inspiration from? 

Sal and I have been working together for a while now, and our collaborative work has seen us evolve with a growing commitment to examining the boundaries of music and vision. Sal often has the initial content idea that we drill into and investigate, and probably in this case we are both totally fascinated by vehicular motion and our human place within it.

What musical styles influenced you when creating this piece? 

Oh this is always a tricky question, but I would say this particular work is influenced by: Stravinsky’s Four Etudes (Op.7), Ligeti’s Etude No.8 Fem, and more generally the music of Karl Stalling and Thelonious Monk. 

Commuter Variations will be premiered in the Primrose Potter Salon on Wednesday 7 August. Click here to discover more.

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