I was really honoured to receive a Ukaria Cultural Residency with Beatboxer Tom Thum to ramp up our orchestral-hiphop collaboration Thum Prints.
During the eleven days on Mt Barker we composed eight new pieces: Little Green Kaktus, Rosella Resurrect, Stravinspiration, Fninam Char, Brgndrfr, Yo, ZZZ and Love Has Left Here. A couple of these made it into our October 2018 performance in Cologne (with WDR Funkhausorchester), and the rest will land in performances in 2019 in Germany (Nürnberger Symphoniker), Malaysia (Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra) and Florida (Imperial Symphony). We also took the opportunity to make studio recordings of some of these pieces in the golden ‘Ukarian’ acoustic, to be included in our upcoming album.
I was really excited to develop a condensed, 20-minute "concerto-version" of the work, programmed in Nürnberg 2019. We sorted through our catalogue of finished and semi-finished music to find the best musical and vocal ideas to showcase in the most-efficient amount of time, in such a form that can occupy the ‘concerto slot’ of an orchestral program.
We also had a great time with a string quintet from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and multi-instrumentalist Adam Page, who all came up to the property to try out our ideas and make some recordings. It was really fun improvising a few videos with Adam (who is a wind-instrument and compositional genius). Hopefully we can record an album one day!?
At the end of the residency, we met up with Ukaria-founder Ulrike Klein and CEO Alison Beare for an informal showing. This was really special. Tom and I both felt that Ulrike and Alison really ‘got’ what we were doing.
With a beatboxer and an orchestra, an easy trope to fall back on is to simply the orchestra play while Tom ‘drums along’. We wanted to explore other approaches, because this easy formula quickly overstays its welcome. All of our new pieces hit different ideas.
The real value of spending the time at Ukaria was to take the opportunity to experiment and fail. We wrote several new pieces of which we are really proud, and also a few pieces that didn’t make it over the line. All of our previous composing retreats have had pressing deadlines, which meant that we had to produce a clear immediate result. At Ukaria we were able to dream up some pretty eccentric ideas with time available to explore them, and we are really happy with the results. Many of them turned out to be good, and a few need some more work. But we think this is an excellent outcome. THANKS to Ulrike, Ukaria and AusCo for the wonderful opportunity!
View this post on Instagram
Super dope jamming with the legend @egapmada for our Thumprints project. Here we are just exploring a bunch of freestyle jams and seeing what orchestral parts we can wrap around them. Thanks for coming u bloody legend. @gordon_ham @ukariaculturalcentre #tomthum #gordonhamilton #thumprints #ukaria #australiacouncil #adelaidehills #adampage #beatboxer #improvisation #music #orchestra