TRANSCRIPT: Moscow fame for Tasmanian composer
Friday, July 3, 2009
By Scott Bevan
Moscow fame for Tasmanian Composer
MARK COLVIN: For many composers it takes decades to get their works performed by a world class orchestra, but a composer from Tasmania has realised that dream at the age of 24.
Matthew Dewey has travelled to the other side of the world to have two works recorded by the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra.
Moscow correspondent Scott Bevan went to a recording session for PM.
SCOTT BEVAN: The main studio in Moscow’s House of Radio has been the birthplace of landmark recordings and iconic film soundtracks dating back to the Soviet days.
Now another piece of musical history is about to be brought to life here, and the young father of the composition is standing by the grand piano, cradling the score and calmly watching the 50 strings players prepare.
MATTHEW DEWEY: No, not daunting at all; exciting… exciting. No, I’m not worried about it; I’m just wanting it to start.
SCOTT BEVAN: Matthew Dewey’s extraordinary musical journey to Moscow with his Symphony Number One began in his hometown of Hobart.
He had been commissioned to write a piece for the Hobart Chamber Orchestra to perform, so he composed the symphony.
The music grabbed attention and ears including those of a mystery patron.
MATTHEW DEWEY: And I was very lucky somebody heard my recording and chose to fund a professional recording of the symphony.
SCOTT BEVAN: Who is that person?
MATTHEW DEWEY: An anonymous donor; I’ve been sworn to secrecy.
SCOTT BEVAN: We can’t twist your arm?
MATTHEW DEWEY: No, unfortunately not. They wanted to create the biggest opportunity that they could for me. So they suggested, well, why don’t we look at an international orchestra.
SCOTT BEVAN: Matthew Dewey recalled that as a teenager, he had swapped emails with a Moscow producer, Marina Dubovskova, about the possibility of one day recording with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra.
Five years on and many more emails later that day has come, and Marina Dubovskova is delighted.
MARINA DUBOVSKOVA: I think it’s very important for Australian composer come to us. It’s the first experience for Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, and so long way and so long distance.
SCOTT BEVAN: The musicians are also intrigued by where the 24-year-old composer has come from.
Cellist Alexander Kucheruk.
ALEXANDER KUCHERUK: For Russian people this very interesting but the first time play Australian music.
SCOTT BEVAN: And some can hear echoes of Australia in the composition.
Principal violinist Andrey Kudryavtsev.
“Yes, undoubtedly, you can see that nature and perhaps the ocean has been clearly drawn,” he says.
Yet it’s actually an Australian tragedy that is threaded through the music. Matthew Dewey wrote the symphony as his emotional reaction to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, not that he felt the need to explain that to the musicians.
MATTHEW DEWEY: They seem to inherently get emotional music and really bring that out in their performance. I’m gratified that it seems to be working without the explanation.
SCOTT BEVAN: Sometimes words have been needed.
The composer and the conductor, Alexey Osetrov, have had long discussions about the symphony and the other work being recorded; a 16-minute suite.
Sometimes an interpreter has been around, other times not – adding another challenge.
What’s the language been like; the language barrier?
ALEXEY OSETROV: It was very hard.
SCOTT BEVAN: Still, conductor Alexey Ostrov believes the symphony speaks for itself.
“I think music is a universal language, so it’s as easy to play an Australian composition, a Tasmanian composition, as it is to play one from, say, America or Bolivia,” he adds.
In the control room, Matthew Dewey loves what he’s hearing.
MATTHEW DEWEY: It’s a high quality sound; it’s very beautiful when it’s soft, but typically Russian when it gets loud. They really know how to give things some, you know, meat and energy.
SCOTT BEVAN: After two days, the works have been recorded and the orchestra’s job is done.
Matthew Dewey wants to return to Moscow to record again. But for now, he’s heading for home, with hopes of many Australians hearing what’s grown from notes on a page and melodies in his head.
MATTHEW DEWEY: It’s incredible; it’s so exciting and so gratifying that the music I write in my little room back in Hobart can communicate to people who live on the other side of the world. That’s exciting and that’s the potential.
SCOTT BEVAN: This is Scott Bevan in Moscow for PM.
http://www.abc.net.au (Original Transcript of story from ABC website)