Lachlan Skipworth – composer

 

The music of Australian composer Lachlan Skipworth has been described as featuring “bold, innovative textures, and compelling melody”. His individual and highly personal compositional language is coloured by three years spent in Japan, where his immersion in the study of the shakuhachi bamboo flute inevitably became a part of his muse. He has recently been awarded the coveted Paul Lowin prize for orchestral composition for his Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (2014), which was premiered by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra with whom he is currently composer-in-residence.

 

 

Sounds

Performances

DatePiecePerformersVenueOther Info
24/09/2017New Work^WASO ChorusSt Mary's CathedralPerth
14/09/2017New Work^Tokyo Philharmonic ChorusTokyo, JapanDai-ichi Seimei Hall
25/08/2017The Night Sky FallSyzygyMelbourne Recital Centre
24/07/2017Piano trioSitkovetsky TrioSydneyMusica Viva Concert Season
20/07/2017Piano trioSitkovetsky TrioNewscastleMusica Viva Concert Season
18/07/2017Piano trioSitkovetsky TrioMelbourneMusica Viva Concert Season
15/07/2017Piano trioSitkovetsky TrioSydneyMusica Viva Concert Season
13/07/2017Piano trioSitkovetsky TrioAdelaideMusica Viva Concert Season
11/07/2017Piano trioSitkovetsky TrioPerthMusica Viva Concert Season
08/07/2017Piano trioSitkovetsky TrioMelbourneMusica Viva Concert Season
06/07/2017Piano trioSitkovetsky TrioBrisbaneMusica Viva Concert Season
22/06/2017New Work^Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Andrew GoodwinMelbourne
18/06/2017New Work^Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Andrew GoodwinMelbourne
19/05/2017IntercurrentIntercurrentUniversity of Western Australia
19/05/2017The Night Sky FallIntercurrentUniversity of Western Australia
01/04/2017Light RainBronwyn Kirkpatrick, Kedumba QuartetBlue Mountains, NSWKindlehill Performance Space
11/03/2017Spiritus^West Australian Symphony OrchestraPerth Concert HallMasters Series #1
10/03/2017Spiritus^West Australian Symphony OrchestraPerth Concert HallMasters Series #1
19/02/2017Echoes and Lines^Arcadia WindsWinthrop HallPerth International Arts Festival
14/12/2016The Night Sky FallIntercurrentState Theatre Centre, Perth.Tura: Scale Variable 4
14/12/2016IntercurrentIntercurrentState Theatre Centre, Perth.Tura: Scale Variable 4
19/11/2016Dark NebulaeNexas QuartetUtzon Room, Sydney Opera HouseNexas CD Launch
13/11/2016Intercurrent^Ensemble OffspringNest Creative Space, AlexandriaKontiki Racket
09/10/2016Aevum^Monash Academy OrchestraRobert Blackwood Hall
05/10/2016Piano QuartetAustralia Piano QuartetMelbourne Recital Centre
13/08/2016Clarinet QuintetAshley Smith, Armilla QuartetBangalow Music Festival
12/06/2016Piano QuartetAustralia Piano QuartetUtzon Room, Sydney Opera House
10/06/2016Piano trioChina-Asean Music WeekNanning, China
19/05/2016Piano Quartet^Australia Piano QuartetGreat Hall, University of Technology Sydney
11/05/2016The Night Sky FallIntercurrentEileen Joyce Studio, Perth
19/02/2016Clarinet Quintet^David Rowden, Omega EnsembleMildura, NSWMurray River Music Festival
11/02/2016ConfluenceThe Sound CollectorsSoundfield StudiosRecording
23/01/2016MujoLina AndonovskaFundação Oriente, East Timor
31/10/2015Inner Man^The Song Company, Roland PeelmanBlackheath Uniting Church, NSW
25/09/2011The Night Sky Fall^Chronology Arts, Lachlan SkipworthUtzon Room, Sydney Opera House
21/09/2015Ten RoundsWAAPA Clarinet TrioWAAPA. Perth
14/04/2015Dark NebulaeNexas QuartetTrackdown, SydneyHospital Hill Recording
11/04/2015Piano Trio^Bella Hristova, Umberto Clerici and Aleksandar MadzarVerbrugghen Hall, SydneyMusica Viva Festival 2015
08/11/2015Inner ManThe Song Company, Roland PeelmanWollongong ART Gallery, NSW
07/11/2015Inner ManThe Song Company, Roland PeelmanWesley Uniting Church, Canberra
19/09/2014AfterglowSydney Contemporary Orchestra, Brian Chatpo KooVerbrugghen Hall, Sydney
18/07/2014Confluence^The Sound CollectorsPerth Institute of Contemporary Arts
05/12/2015Aftermath^Darwin Symphony Orchestra, Matthew WoodDarwin Convention CentreChoreography by Gary Lang Dance
05/11/2015Inner ManThe Song Company, Roland PeelmanNewcastle Conservatorium, NSW
16/08/2014Dark NebulaeQuanta QuartetTivoli Theatre, Perth
16/04/2014Clarinet ConcertoAshley Smith, Christopher Dragon, West Australian Symphony OrchestraPerth Concert HallABC FM recording
16/03/2014AidaThe Song Company, Roland PeelmanJonh Septimus Roe College, Perth
03/11/2015Inner ManThe Song Company, Roland PeelmanRiverside Theatre, Parramatta, NSW
15/10/2014String Quartet No. 1Darlington EnsembleChurchlands Auditorium, PerthDarlinton Concert Series
27/09/2013Ten RoundsPinata PercussionUniversity of Western Australia
02/10/2015Dark NebulaeEnsemble 4SaxessLjubljana Conservatory, SloveniaISCM World Music Days
26/08/2013Dark NebulaeNexas QuartetNIDA Theatre, SydneyAPRA Art Music Awards
14/03/2014AidaThe Song Company, Roland PeelmanAll Saints' College, Perth
01/11/2015Inner ManThe Song Company, Roland PeelmanCity Recital Hall, Sydney
22/09/2013Light RainRiley Lee, Enigma QuartetBellingen Music Festival
20/04/2013AfterglowMelbourne Symhpony Orchestra, Thomas AdesMelbourne Recital CentreMetropolis Series
31/10/2012Dark NebulaeKhasm QuartetMelbourne Town HallGovernor's Recital Series
06/08/2014Dark NebulaeQuanta QuartetMelba Hall, Melbourne
05/12/2014ConfluenceThe Sound CollectorsUniversity of Western Australia
05/10/2014String Quartet No. 1Darlington EnsembleDarlington Hall, Western AustraliaDarlinton Concert Series
17/08/2013AfterglowWest Australian Symphony Orchestra, Christopher DragonAstor Theatre, PerthLatitude Series
04/12/2014The Edge of ForgettingSydney Youth Orchestra, Max McBrideOld Museum Concert Hall, Brisbane
02/11/2014The Edge of Forgetting^Sydney Youth Orchestra, Max McBrideThe Concourse, Chatswood, Sydney
14/06/2013Light RainJames Nyoraku Schlefer, Voxare String QuartetTenri Cultural Institute, NYCKyo-Shin Arts
25/11/2012NezasaSydney Symphony FellowsVerbrugghen Hall, Sydney
25/11/2012The Night Sky FallExhAust New MusicSpectrum, New York
01/10/2014Clarinet Concerto^Ashley Smith, Baldur Bronniman, West Australian Symphony OrchestraAstor Theatre, Perth WALatitude Series
18/11/2012NezasaSydney Symphony FellowsJoan Sutherland Centre, Penrith.
18/10/2012The Night Sky FallPhil Everal, Jon Tooby, Tara John, Lachlan SkipworthOctagon Theatre, Perth
18/05/2012Nezasa^Sydney Symphony FellowsVerbrugghen Hall, Sydney
29/07/2011Dark NebulaeGordan Tudor, Ken Thompson, Evan Ziporyn, Aviva EndeanMass MOCABang on a Can Summer Festival
29/07/2011Light RainLachlan Skipworth, Bang on a Can Festival playersMass MOCABang on a Can Summer Festival
05/02/2013Afterglow^Melbourne Symhpony Orchestra, Brett KellyIwaki Auditorium, MelbourneCYBEC Series
02/07/2013String Quartet No. 1^Enigma QuartetIndependent Theatre, North Sydney
25/07/2011The Second Wave^Bang on a Can Festival Players, Lachlan SkipworthMass MOCABang on a Can Summer Festival
01/03/2013Where the Mountains Meet^Joe MantonSydney Conservatorium of MusicChronology Arts
20/09/2011Shinjitsu^Sydney Chamber Choir, Paul StanhopeABC Centre, Ultimo, SydneyABC FM recording
17/09/2011Shinjitsu^Sydney Chamber Choir, Paul StanhopeIndependent Theatre, North Sydney
04/12/2012Light RainLina Andonovska and friendsfortyfive downstairs, MelbourneNMN Mini-series
04/12/2012MujoLina Andonovskafortyfive downstairs, MelbourneNMN Mini-series
04/06/2012Ten Rounds^Lachlan Skipworth, Bronwyn kirkpatrick, David DixonKyoto Arts Centre Hall, JapanWorld Shakuhachi Festival 2012
11/06/2011Dark Nebulae^Klanglos QuartetHochschule fur Musik, Basel, Switz.
28/08/2009Light RainRiley Lee, Sydney CamerataSydney Conservatorium of Music
28/02/2009Tengu MountainTengu Trio (Skipworth, Dixon, Dugan) + Georgia LoweSydney Conservatorium of MusicDean's Gala
19/07/2009AidaThe Song Company, Roland PeelmanItalian Forum Cultural Centre, SydneyMODART
07/05/2010Light RainBronwyn Kirkpatrick, Sydney Symphony FellowsABC Centre, Ultimo, SydneyISCM World Music Days
18/07/2009Aida^The Song Company, Roland PeelmanMelbourne Recital CentreMODART
28/11/2008Tengu Mountain^Tengu Trio (Skipworth, Dixon, Dugan) + Georgia LoweSydney Conservatorium of MusicSounds Sensational
14/08/2009Light RainSydney Symphony FellowsSydney Conservatorium of Music
10/07/2009Light Rain^Lina Andonovska, Lachlan Skipworth EnsembleSt Stephen's Uniting Church, Sydney
10/07/2009Tengu MountainTengu Trio (Skipworth, Dixon, Dugan) + Georgia LoweSt Stephen's Uniting Church, Sydney
08/07/2008Only the Ocean KnowsBronwyn Kirkpatrick (shakuhachi), Lachlan Skipworth EnsembleSydney Conservatorium of MusicWorld Shakuhachi Festival 2008
17/11/2011The Night Sky FallChronology Arts, Lachlan SkipworthTrackdown, Sydney

List of Works

List of works - click headings to re-order - scores can be purchased via the Australian Music Centre

TitleYearInstrumentation TimePremiere
Spiritus2017Orchestra2*,2*,2*,2*; 4,2,2,1; T+2; Hp; Cel; Str12West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Echoes and Lines2016ChamberFl, Ob, Cl, Hn, Bsn.6Arcadia Winds
Aevum2016Orchestra2*,2,2*,2*; 4,2,3,0; T+2, Hp, Pno; Str12Monash Academy Orchestra
Intercurrent2016ChamberB.Cl, Mar, Pno, Tape9Ensemble Offspring, Intercurrent
Piano Quartet2016ChamberVln, Vla, Vlc, Pno12Australia Piano Quartet
Clarinet Quintet2016ChamberCl, String Quartet11Ashley Smith
Piano Trio2015ChamberVln, Vcl, Pno14Musica Viva
Inner Man2015VocalS, S, A, T, B, B6The Song Company
Aftermath2015Orchestra5Darwin Symphony Orchestra
The Edge of Forgetting2014Orchestra2*,2*2*,2; 4,2,2,1; T+3; Hp; Str8Sydney Youth Orchestra
Confluence2014ChamberPerc(2)9The Sound Collectors
Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra2014Orchestra + solo instrument0,0,0,0; 2,2,2,1; T+3; Hp; Solo Cl.; Str (12,10,8,6,4)15Ashley Smith, Chris Dragon, West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Where The Mountains Meet2013Solo6-string Bass Guitar6Joe Manton, Chronology Arts
String Quartet no. 1 – Yamagoe2013ChamberVln (2), Vla, Vcl5Enigma Quartet, Musica Viva
Orbs2013Orchestra2*,2*,2*,2*; 2,2,2,1; T+3; Hp; Str14Chris Dragon, West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Ode2013Solo + PianoVln, Pno4Akiko Miyazawa, Chinatsu Matsuda
Nezasa2012ChamberOb, Cl, Bsn, Hn, Vln, Vla, Vcl, Db6Sydney Symphony Fellows
Afterglow2012Orchestra (Chamber)1*,1,2*,1; 2,2,1,1; T+ 2; Hp, Pno; Str (4,2,2,1)8Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
The Second Wave2011Chamber + Solo VocalFl, Rec, B.Cl, A.Sax, Perc, Hp, E. Gt, Pno, Sop9Bang on a Can Summer Festival
The Night Sky Fall2011ChamberCl, Vcl, Pno10Chronology Arts
Ten Rounds2011Chamberopen. 3-4 players10Australian Shakuhachi Society
Shinjitsu2011ChoralChamber Choir10Sydney Chamber Choir
Mujō2011SoloFl5Lina Andonovska
Dark Nebulae2010ChamberSaxophone Quartet (A, A, T, B)10Nexas Quartet
Light Rain2009ChamberShakuhachi/Flute, String Quartet7Riley Lee, Sydney Camerata
Aida2009VocalS, S, A, T, B, B6The Song Company
Tengu Mountain2008ChamberShakuhachi (3), Harp or 2 Koto5The Tengu Trio
Only The Ocean Knows2008Chamber + solo instrumentShakuhachi, B.Cl, Hp, Perc (3), Vcl11Bronwyn Kirkpatrick, Lachlan Skipworth Ensemble
Masks2008ChamberA.Sax, Dr Kit, E.Gt, B.Gt, Pno, tape.6Chronology Arts
CloseUp2008ChamberCl, Vln, Vcl, Pno8Chronology Arts

Words - bio, writings, reviews

Full Bio

 

Lachlan Skipworth is emerging as one of the leading composers of his generation in Australia. After training initially as a clarinettist, Skipworth spent almost 3 years in Japan immersed in the study of shakuhachi, an end-blown bamboo flute, and its ancient honkyoku solo repertoire. On returning to Australia, he began to hone and refine his experience into a highly personal compositional language, working closely with his principal teacher Anne Boyd.

Skipworth has since composed a body of work that displays the range and sensitivity of his craft across many genres. Light Rain (2009) sets the shakuhachi itself amongst a string quartet to depict raindrops falling gently on water, and has gone on to receive performances across Australia, Japan, and the USA. Dark Nebulae (2011), for Saxophone Quartet, depicts the colossal rumblings of deep space by layering rich multiphonics to create thick churning clouds of sound mass. In addition to numerous international performances, the work was selected as the official Australian work to be performed at the 2015 World Music Days in Slovenia.

Afterglow (2012) was performed in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Metropolis Series and conducted by leading British composer Thomas Ades. The recent Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (2014) was premiered by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra with soloist Ashley William Smith and conductor Baldur Brönnimann, subsequently winning the prestigious 2015 APRA Art Music Award in the Performance of the Year category. In 2015 Skipworth will have new works presented by Musica Viva, Synergy Percussion, The Song Company and the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

Skipworth holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Western Australia (2004) and a Master of Music (Composition) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (2010) where he studied with Roger Smalley and Anne Boyd respectively. He is also active as a shakuhachi performer, having spent two and a half years from 2005 in Japan studying with revered master Yokoyama Katsuya and Kakizakai Kaoru. In 2010, he undertook a 2-semester kontaktstudium with Prof. Jorg Widmann at the Freiburg Hochschule fur Musik, Germany.

In 2011 he received a fellowship from the prestigious Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, undertaking a 6-week research trip to Japan, Europe and the USA. In 2009 he was composer-in-residence with the Japanese traditional instrument ensemble Aura-J in Tokyo as part of an Asialink Performing Arts Residency. He has been selected to participate in a number of composer workshops, including the MODART and CYBEC programmes in Australia, Ensemble Modern at Tokyo Wonder Site, and the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival in Massachusetts, USA.

Chaos and Containment – creative inspiration from the vivid music of Japan

Like most foreigners, I find Tokyo a place of immense wonder and am constantly marvelling at the way a place of such extremes can function in such an orderly fashion. Temples nestled between skyscrapers set the ancient alongside the modern with a slight feeling of awkward impermanence, as if awaiting the next earthquake. The subway network appears an unfolding labyrinth of intersecting lines on a map, yet the rail system runs like clockwork. Trains seem about to burst open due to the crowds, but the people themselves are the depiction of politeness, aside from a few Friday night revellers who have had a little too much sake and karaoke. It’s the constant battle to contain the chaotic elements into a rigid formality that make Tokyo a place of enduring interest. A similar struggle between musical extremes and strict form gives traditional Japanese music its mysterious allure.

Japanese instruments exhibit a certain wild potency as their seemingly simple design allows for much flexibility of pitch and timbre, coupled with a striking array of extended techniques. Raw and unrefined sounds are frequent in the traditional repertoire and are considered aesthetically pleasing. To this end, the instruments have not been ‘modernised’, so to speak, and their music has evolved around set limitations that the instruments’ basic construction presents. For example, the end-blown mouthpiece of the shakuhachi allows a startling degree of pitch freedom and variance of tone colour. However a pentatonic scale is produced by opening its five finger holes in order, and fast movement between pitches outside this scale is troublesome.

Similarly, the shamisen, a three-stringed cat-skin lute, has freedom of pitch due to its fretless fingerboard. The music is bound always to the pitch of its lowest string, which is left a little loose at the nut to create a rough, buzzing sound. With sympathetic resonance, this takes on an incessant drone-like quality that reinforces the prominence of this pitch. In contrast, the movable bridges of the koto mean that any number of different tonalities is possible, however, once they are set, only small modulations are feasible. Players focus on adding colour and expression through varied plucking techniques as well as pushing and pulling the strings to manipulate the pitch. Japanese traditional musicians claim that the freedom to inflect the tone of their instruments makes theirs a living and breathing sound, whose animation more than makes up for perceived limitations.

An acceptance of free elements into form and structure also occurs on a broader level in the different genres of traditional music. In a series of lectures I was able to attend by the Japanese composer Ichiyanagi Toshi, he raised the issue of freedom in relation to time. In our modern-day world, he asserted, we measure time as absolute in minutes and seconds, whereas in old Japan, time was a relative concept. Each day was divided into six equal parts, and the lengths of these segments varied as the seasons changed. Many genres of music in Japan similarly allow for such flexibility of time. For example, shakuhachi honkyoku pieces consist of phrases which are drawn out to the length of one breath, which will differ between performers and performances. In my ongoing study of this repertoire, there is a strong focus on how to space the notes of a phrase suitably within the time of my own breath. In gagaku, the ancient court music, the final beat of each bar is lengthened quite dramatically in a way that disrupts the sense of pulse. This creates a floating and otherworldly mood, which is further heightened by the overlapping chords of the sho (a mouth organ) and the wandering melodies of the hichiriki (a double-reed instrument). Ichiyanagi also pointed out that no traditional Japanese music uses a conductor, therefore ensembles must listen closely to each other within the fluctuating time.

It was with this idea of a tug of war between chaos and containment in mind that I observed the gendai hougaku scene (contemporary music for traditional instruments) during my residency. A highlight of my stay was seeing my host ensemble Aura-J perform Miki Minoru’s Concerto Requiem for 21-string koto and ensemble. The soloist, Kimura Reiko, is a leading exponent of the 21-string koto, and Miki’s skilful writing for the instrument allowed her to show off the entire range of her expressive talent, from delicate harmonics to strong percussive attacks. What became immediately clear was that Miki had explored the limits of soloistic virtuosity, while still allowing space for the raw elements, the subtle pitch inflections and resonance of the more noise-like sounds, to really bring Kimura’s performance to life.
This was a major lesson for me, as other pieces I saw during my residency, that failed to utilise the distinct range of sounds available to the instruments, were at times bland and uninteresting. At the opposite end of the spectrum, pieces that used the pitch freedom and extended techniques excessively, or in an unrelated fashion, became a foray too far into the abstract to maintain the liveliness of the performance. My recent experience of Japanese instruments has confirmed that to write music which encompasses the wild and chaotic within a structure, for Japanese or Western instruments, I must pursue a musical world where juxtaposing extremes of expression coexist in a balanced way.

Recent reviews

...equally developed gifts for bold, innovative textures, and compelling melody are put to good use... conjuring up a watery world of crashing waves and subtle swells. Madžar, Hristova and Clerici, three artists at the height of their powers, give a faithful and musically astute performance, ensuring Skipworth’s complex musical ideas have clarity and meaning.

Maxim Boon, Limelight.

http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/review-concert-4-musica-viva-festival-2015/

  Lachlan Skipworth operated a few notches higher with Afterglow, which managed to combine comfortable lyricism with undercurrents of menace and a sterling shakuhachi-signalling solo from Wendy Clarke's piccolo.

Clive O’Connel, The Age.

http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/music/21st-century-australian-composers-program-20130206-2dykp.html

  Cybec finalist Lachlan Skipworth conjures a “solar drama” (to use a phrase of the Australian Mallarmé scholar Gardner Davies) out of the orchestra in Afterglow. Like the dying rays of the sun, a fanfare on tuba announces shimmering string colours, which build and dissipate in a dense crescendo. The chaos leaves behind a more transparent texture with a lyrical oboe line. Harp and piano can faintly be heard moving across the orchestral surface. It is as though the tuba has dipped behind the horizon of the strings and risen again as a silver moon, lighting the path of two wanderers.

Matthew Lorenzon, Realtime Arts

http://partialdurations.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/metropolis-thomas-ades-shadows/

  Melodic fragments materialised and faded around precisely articulated harmonics, with further overtones resonating like peaks glimpsed through cloud… ascending runs flashing rapidly across the ear, echoes allowed to hang and gradually fade, action and response being contained within a strictly formalised aesthetic reminiscent of tightly choreographed martial art.

Oliver Downes, Realtime Arts

http://www.realtimearts.net/article/114/11077

Theses