Photo: MANE rehearsals pre-social distancing (by Yunis Tmeizeh)
Well, 2020 hasn't gone exactly as planned so far. By April this year, I'd planned to have already had my piece for Monash Animated Notation Ensemble finished and performed at the Melbourne Recital Centre as part of the MSO Metropolis concert featuring the works of Betsy Jolas. I would be preparing a piece for the Minimoog workshop at Darmstadt in July, and probably playing more synth gigs around Melbourne. But, of course, this has turned out to be a year of putting things on hold. I'm starting to come to terms with that, and make use of the extra time to compose more and tidy up recordings of some older works. Somehow there still doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to do all the things I'm excited about.
Live-streaming has proven to be a double edged sword. I've had some amazing experiences with it - taking part in Deep listening workshops with flautist Dom Chaseling and performing a live-streamed synth improv as part of the fabulous Hibernation Festival. I joined in on Pat Telfer's Isolation Improvisation Collective, improvising with musicians, dancers and artists over Zoom. I've been grateful for all of these opportunities for performance, improvisation and human contact. However, online performances aren't as easy as I'd first assumed. My internet connection isn't strong enough to sustain high quality video and audio streaming together, so I've always had to work around this by prioritising one or the other, or limiting how many people I can play with. I guess we'll continue to work out the kinks as online concerts become the norm for the next few months or more!
In other news, I've been playing with a new synth, the SOMA Lyra-8. It feels like it was made for me - it's designed by a Russian artist who wanted to create an electronic instrument that allows the kind of musical and emotional range you'd get out of an acoustic instrument. Although it looks like a noise box, it's really an 8-voice polyphonic keyboard with microtonal capabilities and a really cool modulating delay. As well as the Hibernation Festival performance, I've recorded this piece called 5G Bats.