Ross Carey

Pianist and Composer

Author

About

I am a composer and pianist (both solo but in the main collaborative these days), and since 2017 a foreign professor at the School of Music and Drama, Sias University, located in the town of Xinzheng in central China's Henan province. Previously I was a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Music, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia (from 2010-15). As a composer I feel free to explore a variety of different musical styles and impulses. This includes "commenting" on our common musical heritage in such works as '...infinite songs... 33 Variations on 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' and 'Jingle Fantasy' (quoting 'Jingle Bells') both for piano solo, and more recently 'Feuillets de album' for piano (with a version for toy piano) composed for the SatiE ObsessionS project facilitated by Moving Classics TV, as well as extending to the music of other cultures, for example 'Souvenir des iles' for oboe solo and 'Meditation on a Javanese Mode' for piano solo (both of which explore the sounds of Indonesian gamelan). I believe music also has a healing function, which is best expressed perhaps in my work through a number of memorial pieces for individuals or as a marker of traumatic events, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami ('Elegy' for string quartet) and the recent covid-19 pandemic ('Elegia' for solo violin, and on a rather more mundane level ‘…meanwhile…’ for spoken voice and clavietta) as well as in works which approach difficult topics, such as domestic violence and social alienation (‘Kate Kelly’, chamber opera in 5 scenes to a libretto by Merrill Findlay). I believe communities such as these at Moving Classics bringing together diverse voices from many countries have an important role in facilitating dialogue in contemporary music practice. Thanks for sharing this opportunity

Videos

Sheets

Interview

What does Music Mean to you personally?

At the age of 11 (around about) my parents gave me the second volume of Beethoven piano sonatas in the Tovey edition for my birthday. That night, with reverence, the beautiful new volume with its ruby red cover was safely deposited under my pillow- I slept soundly knowing that a dear friend was close by.

Do you agree that Music is all about fantasy?

One person's fantasy could be another's nightmare. Music might be about as many different things as there are creators; or, perhaps, cultures.

If you were not a professional Musician, what would you have been?

I knew from a young age (in my teens) that I wanted to be a composer. That has widened a bit to include being a performer (which is how I now earn my living as a collaborative pianist). I've always loved looking at maps, so, perhaps, if I was knocked off course, a map-maker is what I might have become.

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

If something has quality, then, there is no doubt it will be recognized by someone, eventually. This recognition is something quite separate from hype, advertising, or algorithmically induced ennui. If we think of musicians and audience as forming an ecosystem, then those particular ecosystems can find their points of reference and balanced existence within their own parameters.

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

This is a difficult question. But, if it is transformation we are talking about, in the end it comes down to our own ability to be agents of change, no matter how big or small the outcome. I believe musical expression is not separate from our everyday realities, encounters and motivations. At the same time, we intuitively recognise that it somehow reaches beyond these too.

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

Creativity plays a very important part in my approach towards music and life. Each 'encounter' is a particularity, a probing, an exploration, a catharsis, a synthesis, a summation, an ending and a beginning...

Do you think as musicians we can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

I think concert organisers and music organisations are already finding a myriad of ways to answer this question. Many kinds of music require concentrated listening. And that concentrated listening entails many things, one of which is a willingness to be open to alternative ways of being, to where this particular experience takes us. And that is where younger people may be at an advantage.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favourite piece (by you) and how did you start working on it?

The creative process I believe necessarily remains somewhat of a mystery to us. However, having said that, it certainly also involves the calculating part of our mind. It is a mixture of rationality and something else that refuses to be labelled (thank goodness)! I think having a favourite piece would be difficult to imagine...

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

Feel free (give yourself permission) to explore with an open heart and mind, as in every encounter in your life.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Actually, yes, I do. This is particularly the case where certain parameters are given in a commissioning brief (whether that is paid for or more usually not). Of course, we don't know necessarily who our audience will be. But my existence as a composer is not separate from those who will interpret the score and those who listen to the resulting music. In fact, it relies on both of these things. However, it doesn't mean I feel the conscious need to be "accessible", which was a catch-phrase a while ago. If something is inaccessible it just means we have closed our minds to the possibility of encountering it, or we are not yet at the point where we are able to receive it.

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

Recently I have been writing and arranging some existing pieces of mine for the Seoul Toy Piano Ensemble (you can see their performances on YouTube). This is I guess a type of 'experimenting' in broadening my keyboard works to instruments beyond just the piano (this include works for clavichord and clavietta written for David Bohn). I'm not sure of what projects are coming up next, although I'd like to write another piece for solo oboe for wonderful oboist Juan Manuel Garcia-Cano Ruiz. My previous piece dedicated to him 'Souvenir des iles' can be heard on his online album 'Solus'.