Interview with Australian composer Margaret Brandman


What does music mean to you personally?

“Music is part of the fabric of my being. As a composer, I always have of my compositions running through my mind, or the idea for a new one emerges. Music provides me with a source of relaxation, emotional support, physical prowess (hands and fingers), mental stimulation in many ways, an encouragement to move and dance, and an opportunity to be uplifted. You can get a sense of this when you listen to Lyric Fantasy for piano and String Orchestra” on my album SENSATIONS.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

“I would not be able to say that ALL music is about fantasy. Much music is composed within the natural laws of acoustics, that we all react to, and composers will often deal with music in set geometric patterns or structures. The result may be music of a ‘fantasy nature’ but it may not have been composed that way. On the other hand, music that stems from the point of view of improvisation, would more likely be all about fantasy. Again my work Lyric Fantasy would be a good example of this. ”

If you were not a professional musician, what profession would have interested you?

“Archeologist or architect as I have a fascination with history and also with design. As a composer, I construct architectural forms with in my compositions.”

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?

“No, I think that good music will always be appealing. Younger people will mature; at that point in time, their musical tastes will change and therefore they will quite possibly discover classical music as a contrast to all the pop music they listened to in their youth. I also think we need to expose younger children to this wide range of music, so they will grow up being familiar with some of the classical repertoire.
Also as far as my future is concerned, I am composing new an accessible contemporary classical music all the time and getting great reactions to my new music. So I am looking forward to composing and performing much more music in the future. ”

What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

“Audiences are still appreciating the large body of music that has been composed over the past 500 years. So I feel there will always be a place for classical music but new classical music also needs to find a niche in the programming, to excite and challenge listeners. I would say my Firestorm Symphony from my album SENSATIONS has many of these elements.

When I say that classical music is searching for new ways, what would come to your mind?

“I think there is a natural transformation in classical music, as composers blend of classical influences and modern genres – jazz, latin-american, blues and rhythmic music of all sorts. So the definition of classical music these days is much broader than it was.
As an example, my pieces Autumn Rhapsody and Spirit Visions incorporate both classical and Latin-American influences.

Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative? What’s the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

“As I am a composer, I am always creating music, and it is a joy to be able to perform my own works. I also incorporate a great deal of improvisation into my playing, and many of my works begin with an improvised theme. I am not a musician who can be satisfied with merely reproducing works of other composers. I believe that all performers should be improvisers as well, and they can then perform written works as if they were improvised, giving the works a fresh interpretation.
Example : Flights of Fancy for Flute and Piano, incorporates structures improvisation.

Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the classical music concerts? How will you proceed?

“I think musicians can attract a younger generation into concerts, if they include music that has rhythmic interest, and can catch their imagination by relating to the books and movies they might be reading or watching. ”

Tell us about your creative process.

“My creative process when writing a purely instrumental work, often begins with improvising at the piano until the main motif for the work presents itself. After that I will begin the composition process to develop the ideas, working to balance unity and variety. At other times, a theme might occur to me in the early morning waking hours and then I will need to go to the piano to flesh it out. When working on my songs, I am usually inspired by the lyrics, which will suggest a key and a mood for the work. This has been particularly evident in my recent 12 songs for the Cosmic Wheel of the Zodiac Song Cycle, which was premiered by baritone Martin Cooke in a very special concert in Sydney on the 3rd of September. Also, when writing songs, I am mindful of the range and capabilities of the singer for whom I am writing the songs.”

We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: Music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?

“I too love the combination of classical music with different disciplines. In general I believe music combines well with many disciplines and can enhance the participants’ experience. For instance, in the You-tube clips of my contemporary classical music I certainly make use film to add another dimension to the music. Classical music and poetry combine well, and the outcome is usually a new song.
I enjoy collaborating with my lyricist- astrologer Benita Rainer and find the writing process quite satisfying. It is good if my lyricist is not dogmatic about her lyrics and lets my musical considerations take precedence. We work well as she is flexible and accommodating. In the long run I am happy if I can have quality control over the presentation of the final product.”

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

“I think young people will understand classical music if they learn an instrument or learn to sing to gain an understanding of the processes involved. Therefore I think education is the key. Also, something that goes back to the mid 20th Century, was Walt Disney’s use of the classics with the animated features. This is something that many people of my generation were exposed to, and became a very easy way for young people to get to know many classical pieces. For instance The Scorcerer’s Apprentice. Perhaps the younger generation,should revisit the animated Disney works.

Now it is a common practice in the media to talk that the classical music is getting into the consumption business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and demand rules and how to sell your “product” in your case your compositions. How do you see it?

“I think it has always been the case that composers need to advertise their new works whether it be by putting on concerts, or getting reviews for their works. So for several hundred years, classical music has been a ‘consumer product’ where as folk music has been more of a shared village experience for telling stories or for dances. In earlier centuries music was a consumer product for the rich, who often were patrons of the arts. In my case, I am aiming to ‘sell’ my product to radio stations for airplay and to film producers who are looking for powerful movie themes. ”

Do you have expectations with regards to your listeners, your audience?

“My hope is that my music will touch the listener and trigger a happiness response. My expectation is that they will leave a concert on a high and possibly have one of my melodies on automatic replay in their minds after a concert or after listening to my CD’s.”

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

“I have a recording project with Parma Recordings to produce my Cosmic Wheel of the Zodiac Song cycle, which has been recently premiered. The Prague Choir will be recording choral versions of the songs, and Baritone Martin Cooke and I will be recording the solo voice and piano versions of the songs, in Prague in August/September 2017 I will be involved in the recording process as supervisor for the choir and as accompanist for Martin Cooke in the solo versions of the songs.
I am planning a new song cycle for Martin Cooke, of 6 songs, 3 in English and 3 in German.”

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