A few weeks ago on one her whirlwind trips to Sydney, Nicole Canham premiered my new piece Time Flies When You’re Having Fun for tàrogatò and electronics at the Australian Institute of Music in the Composition Seminar there.
Nicole commissioned it as both a standalone piece, as well as being a part of her larger, immersive multimedia work Hourglass which is being premiered in Mexico City in two sold-out performances this weekend. For Hourglass, Nicole commissioned a range of composers and video artists from Australia and Mexico (you can see in the image above the work of Australian Sarah Kaur) in putting together this exploration of our experiences of time – I also got to produce and mix a recording of Without Time, the gorgeous piece by Elena Kats-Chernin for multilayered clarinet that’s also featured in the program.
My little bit of Hourglass was partly inspired by a review I read of the work of video artist Pipilotti Rist in the The New Yorker where art critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote that “Her pop cultural affinities don’t unite high and low so much as make them seem like interchangeable engines of pleasure.” I liked this description so much – and it chimed so well with the way I think about and work with music – it became a kind of manifesto for the piece, and prompted the title as I began to discuss the themes of the Hourglass project with Nicole.
I tried to keep my approach to the work playful and joyous, taking samples from recordings of Nicole playing the tárogató to make all of the sounds in the electronic part, and imagining Nicole dancing as she played the live part, lost in a state of ‘flow’.