Compositions

  • Whale Fall (2021) (in-progress) for flute, violin, cello, electronic bass, synthesizer, percussion, and dream recall recordings.
    Performance is on the 4 July 2021 with Ensemble New Babylon, Bremen, Germany

Whale Fall deals with the instability of the ecosystem comparing the decaying process of a whale carcass as it sinks to the bottom of the ocean with the moral decay of our society. This idea is transferred to the music as decomposing sounds, full of violence and hopelessness. The instrumental articulations in the music coalesce in speculative dialogue with the sounds of the bowhead and the minke whale – two highly intelligent and empathetic creatures found in the arctic and subarctic seas who have suffered significantly from commercial exploitation. A whale‘s primary way of navigating the world is through sound – spending most their time in darkness, and have some of the widest hearing ranges of any mammal – some species capable of hearing at seismic or hyper-ultrasonic frequencies. They have self-recognition, complex social lives, express empathy, grief, maternal love, and even belong to different cultures. The skin of a whale is very sensitive to touch. Some may think it is tough and thick due to their size but whales are able to sense touch all over their bodies. They experience changes in atmospheric pressure, which helps us to understand their physiology and how their brains are structured to orientate themselves in their environment. Maurice Merleau-Ponty tells us that when we perceive depth, we are perceiving a sensuous cartography of dynamic relationships that is a mutual envelopment (the intertwining of self in space). They are creatures who are ensouled, and agential – deserving of what we call personhood and sovereignty, mainly as a systemic structure to protect them from us and the tourist mentality of animal objectification. The music I wrote starts by simulating ‘acoustical smog’, or underwater noise pollution, which they are highly sensitive to and had to endure relentlessly throughout their lives, then, a falling decaying whale carcass as it falls to the depths of the sea floor, and the final section ‘The Infinity Chamber’ imagines an inner ear bone of a whale resting on the seabed, forever listening to the changing acoustics of the ocean. See concert details

  • Water Pail (2021) 8 cooking oil drums, 8 transducers and solo percussionist (sound art installation), exhibited at World Square, Sydney, as part of the Now You Hear Her festival.
‘Water Pail’ is a sculpture and sound art installation about the artist’s Donna Chang’s intersectional Chinese-Australian identity and her mother’s and her maternal grandmother’s life in Hong Kong during the 1960s-80s.
 
“The works use of absence through image isolation, blackness and silence within a growing grating biting of sound that suddenly disappears is disturbing and poignant. Its beauty is absence of sound and sight to make the isolation of shape and materiality of sounds poignant—representative perhaps of trauma within a materiality-metal bamboo and timbre harshness envelope highlighted by absence which speaks to both a specific cultural context and the human condition.” (written by composer Bruce Crossman in the newsletter: Music & Music Therapy Discipline, Volume 3 (May) 2021.)
 
Monica, Donna’s mother, lived during Hong Kong’s water famine, and experienced significant hardship and poverty. As a young child Monica had to carry a pail of water up multiple flights of stairs everyday to get fresh water. In a video work, Monica’s voice also recounts the story of a family inheritance in which men could only take over assets, leaving Donna’s grandmother impoverished.
 
The music, by the composer Daniel Portelli, is an immersive 8 channel haptic sound artwork responding to the stories and sculptural objects. Many of the water pails in Hong Kong during that time were repurposed cooking oil drums. The work explores their historical significance and sonic potential in an 8 channel array of these drums, each containing transducers that vibrates and distorts the surface of the metal. Donna performs a solo percussion piece on a bamboo/water pail structure in a composer/performer theatrical piece devised in collaboration with Daniel. The solo performance is accompanied by the ‘oil drum chorus’. See Video
 
  • The Glass of Imagination (2020) is a website containing video samples of singing wine glasses and bells ringing, tuned to different microtonal pitches, to be performed on multiple devices.

  • Dream Recorder (2020) for a dreamt sub-contrabass recorder (part of the imaginary sound art series)
  • Rush tones  (2020) for one or more accordions along a river stream (part of the imaginary sound art series)
  • The Three Ecologies (2020) (in-progress) for horn, oboe, bassoon and electronics
  • I am a hollow round tube (2020) (in-progress) for flute and flute-like objects
  • New Possibilities for Misunderstanding (2019-20) for microtonal horn, tape, preparations, and theatrics
  • Ontogeny (2019) for piccolo and electronic playback
  • Miniatures (2018) for piano, flute, cello, percussion, with electronics and field recordings [website]
  • Serpentine (2017) for erhu and percussion 7′ [multimedia]

PhD Portfolio:

  • A Sense of Space (2015/16) for flute, nylon guitar, and soprano with percussion 10′
  • Lines of Fragmentation (2015) for trumpet, trombone and two percussionists 6’03”
  • Hyperbodies (2015)  for robot piano 10’29” [MIDI]
  • Animal (2015) for violin, cello, percussion, keyboard, and choir with video score 10′ [multimedia]
  • Copy-Make (2015) Interactive video installation, made as part of ‘Composition Beyond Music’, in Graz, Austria.
  • Memory Tape (2015) – for cello, trombone, and recorded media 11′
  • Mapping Australia (2014) – for piano and electronics with video score 7′ [multimedia]
  • Undulations (2014) – for two soprano saxophones 6’09”

Independent Collaboration

  • Temporal Planes (2013) – Electronic Media [Recording] – Performed and Recorded by Entoptic Ensemble – 17’04″
  • Everything Painted on the Veil (2012) – Album by Entoptic

Masters of Arts (Honours) Portfolio:

  • Finding Kensho (2012) – for chamber orchestra – Premiered by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra 8’15″
  • Antibiosis (2011) – for chamber ensemble and recorded media 10’25″
  • The Expansive Water (2010) – for chamber orchestra 7’36″