Photo from the Tracensemble concert with Alba Bru Carci (flute), Diego Castro Magaš (guitar), Peyee Chen (soprano/percussion) at
St. Paul’s Hall, University of Huddersfield, UK (photo credit: Angela Guyton).
Online Music Journal publication and radio broadcast
My piece ‘Memory Tape’ was featured by the online music journal ‘Making Waves’ on their February 2019 edition called ‘Waves of Consciousness‘. Making Waves are a monthly curated series that features Australian art music. Check out the video of my work, performed by Stephen Menotti (trombone) and Ellen Fallowfield (cello), and other featured artists.
The piece was also broadcast to radio on the ‘Australian Sounds’ program on 3MBS Fine Music Melbourne on the 15th February 2019.
Composer in Residence
I was a composer in residence in a 16-week multi-art-form collaboration project in Western Sydney. It was part of the DIG space residency (September to December 2018) with Penrith City Council. I wrote a series of miniature pieces for a website relating to books to inspire young adults to read and engage with the library. The music is accompanied by cinemagraphs and graphic manga style artworks. The music was rehearsed and recorded at Western Sydney University, Kingswood, NSW, Australia. Performed by: Tim Hans (piano), Justine Bristow (flute), Zenith Chae (cello), Daniel Portelli (percussion), with electronics and field recordings.
(me conducting my miniature pieces in rehearsals)
Sydney Conservatorium of Music Lecture
In May 2018, I gave a lecture to composition students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. I spoke about my creativity and research into the work of social anthropologist Tim Ingold and the contemporary dance methodologies of William Forsythe, particularly ‘Improvisation Technologies: A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye’ (1999), which is a dance method for navigating imagined lines in space. Ingold studied the unique structure of fungi (lines and folds) and this influenced his understanding of social relations and our connection to our environment. He establishes a language of lines as found in activity such as weaving, storytelling, singing, walking, drawing observing, and writing. I use his theory on the ‘correspondence of lines’ as a transformative process in my compositions.
Below is the abstract from my lecture:
This talk draws on the scholarship of lines in art and anthropology to create a framework for structuring a discussion about sound, listening, gesture, video notation, cross-modality, and the visual arts. It demonstrates how, beyond the surface, a musical work can be shown to be made up of a dynamic ‘life of lines’. I see music gesture as a form of line-making which can be meaningfully connected to the world around us. I am particularly drawing on the work of Tim Ingold and his theory of the correspondence of lines as a transformative process. My creative practice engages with this, along with other dialogic lines found in contemporary dance, videos, nomadic travelling, non-human movement, and abstract art. Gestural lines are mapped and used in the video scoring systems I create.
Video scores are also used to infuse the abstract notion of the line with historical socio-political meaning. I engage with the concept of the ‘mesh’ as a collection of such lines that are interwoven and interconnected. Sonic form in my work arises from a meshwork of lines of entanglement, movement and growth. This discourse of lines is contextualised through examples of absurdist instrumental theatre, graphic video scores, corporeal based music, and intermodal performance.
Daniel Portelli: Associate Artist
“My music is a form of line-making, heard and experienced as radiant energetic lines drawn through space in time. A meshwork of sensory surplus, where objects and points break down.” – my quote from the website.
“I use video as a sketching process for composition. It becomes the primary ‘corresponding’ tool for the development of a multimodal practice; a mediating element for building vocabularies between the auditory, the kinaesthetic, the tactile, and the imagination.” – my previous quote from the website.
Library shelf no. 783.66542/POR 1 [Available for loan]
A Sense of Space is for flute, guitar, and soprano with percussion. It works with different levels of magnification of instrumental timbre that reveals shades of grains and particles. The particulate sound vocabulary includes scratching on guitar strings with different durations and speeds, the sounds of crumbling shredded bamboo, and the brushing of sandpaper on wood. The vocalist with her phonation of breaths and whispers emulates these qualities. The piece is without words or text. Instead, language is disassembled down to phonetics, vowels, fricatives and air.
I came across a shredded bamboo wok cleaner at a Chinese supermarket in Haymarket, Sydney. It makes a crispy, crackling sound that I wanted to explore in a musical work. I was inspired by its noise spectra and found that these sounds can interrupt or mask momentarily the more pure and fragile tones of the flute and guitar. There are sections where the speed and the amount of activity increases which may overload the capacities of some listeners for a brief moment. I call this a ‘mesh’, and it is phenomena I openly embraced and brought into my musical language. The piece can then be thought of as a subtle play between ambiguity and clarity.
Similar categories of timbre sit within a spectrum that can be identified as distortion or an airiness of tone. Degrees of density or resistance are shaped, where physical pressure is the key parameter for controlling the audibility of the graininess or grittiness of each surface. My instrumental approach is also about articulating a kind of dynamism through gestural variations, where parts of the score are also recycled but may go unnoticed because of their slight alterations. Time may appear to want to move forward but is stopped by an uncanny sense of stasis. Pauses and attenuations often occur after sections that are populated with the dense sound activity of a flourishing string of micro-tonal pitches, and parts offset in uneven rhythms. The frequent interpolation of rests as well as quiet passages allows the sounds of the performance space to become more present to audience attention. For me, the sounds of the space where intended to be listened to during these moments and are part of the work. The audience are therefore encouraged to listen openly and embrace the sounds around them during the piece.
Premiered on 5 March 2016 by Alba Bru Carci (flute), Diego Castro Magaš (guitar), Peyee Chen (soprano/percussion) at St. Paul’s Hall, University of Huddersfield, UK.
My piece Serpentine for erhu and percussion with video and spoken poetry was premiered by Claire Edwardes and Liu Ying on the 20 July 2017 at The Playhouse, Western Sydney University, Penrith Campus (Kingswood), in Australia.
Serpentine is a multimedia piece for erhu, percussion and spoken word. It centres around the winding shapes and lines of movement such as those made by a serpent or snake. Lines in the music have a flexible identity, and manifest as asymmetrical percussive displacements, distorted grains and swarms of sound, pitch contours and energetic movements between performed actions. The video also portrays this curvature patterning through the use of a handheld camera that follows lines filmed on the side of the road. This is complemented by the story lines that emerge in Aden Rolfe’s spoken poem. Collected from his work, ‘The Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge’, which is a poetic muse on the Australian bush. The text uses refrain and repetition to explore the potential of categorisation through the figure of the snake.
In a section of the score the erhu player follows a video score containing an oscillating yellow sine wave and a flashing circle indicating fingered pitch positions and the point of contact with the bow respectively. The percussionist follows two rotating clocks that point to different percussion instruments indicating when to strike them. The graphic video notation is combined with staff notation, which becomes a play with the perception and orientation of time.
Below is a video link of the premiere of Serpentine as part of the ‘Poetic Energies across sonic space’ night concert: https://youtu.be/ZEGwClyVX3Q
My piece A Sense of Space was premiered by Tracensemble, in St. Paul’s Hall, University of Huddersfield on the 5 March 2016.
Commission with contemporary ensemble ESMUC in Barcelona
My piece Lines of Fragmentation (2015) for trumpet, trombone and two percussionists had its world premiere on 17th February 2016, performed by ESMUC Ensemble, at the L’Auditori in Barcelona as part of the Sampler Series festival which was a homage to Xenakis and Varèse who also featured on the program.
Robotic piano composition and workshop
I was involved in a robot piano workshop with Professor Peter Ablinger (University of Huddersfield) and Professor Winfried Ritsch (Institut für Elektronishe Musik und Akustik, Graz) where they brought their computer-controlled/robot piano ‘RHEA’ to the Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM) at the University of Huddersfield. From 19th – 25th October 2015.
A concert of works were performed on 25 October in Phipps Hall at the University of Huddersfield. Listen below to the premiere of the piece called Hyperbodies.
A documentary was made by filmmaker Angela Guyton, which allows you to see inside the processes behind these workshops and RHEA’s week-long residency at CeReNeM.
A video of my piece Hyperbodies can be found here.
Journal Publication – My article ‘Mapping Australia’ features in the fifth issue of the CeReNeM Journal. The journal is an online interactive website, written, edited and designed by my colleagues at Huddersfield University. Edited by PhD composer David Pocknee and web design by artist Ana Lemnaru, they have created an innovative and beautiful platform to showcase recent research in music. This issues journal covers touch, cartography, topology, nuns, pornography, synaesthesia, membranes, desire, exploded instruments, Beethoven’s piano usage, slow-motion performance, piano destruction, Australia, Big Data and trumpets.
Full Journal: http://cerenem.ricercata.org/
20 April 2015
My piece Animal was reviewed in the newspaper ‘The Australian’. The piece was premiered at the Samstag Museum in Adelaide on the 12 April 2015:
“The second work premiered, Animal by young Sydney composer Daniel Portelli, drew text from the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014, consisting of recollections of children who were held in detention.”
“Positioned upstairs in a balcony, sopranos from the Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus whispered their words like a hovering throng of tiny lost souls above the audience’s head. Then a burning flame, projected in slow-motion video, symbolically incinerated all memory of them.”
[This photo was taken during the rehearsals leading up to the premiere of the work. Some of the choir members used their phones to practice the video score while others viewed it from a projected screen.]
4 March 2015
This is the event information for my composition Animal (2015):
“Soundstream Collective performs Silence augmenteth grief in the year that marks the 100 year centenary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli, acknowledging the grief caused by war which is followed by suppression and silence. Featuring works by Liza Lim and Stuart Greenbaum, with world premieres by Jon Rose, Peter McNamara and Daniel Portelli and conducted by Vienna-based Warwick Stengaards. Soundstream Collective expands its group to include electronics, string quartet, video and the Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus in this emotionally charged program of works by leading Australian composers.”
The performance is on 16 April 2015 at the Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum, University of South Australia, Adelaide.
13-25 February 2015
5 February 2015
My piece entitled Memory Tape (2015) was performed at St Pauls Hall at Huddersfield, UK
Stephen Menotti – Trombone
Ellen Fallowfield – Cello
LIVE: CeReNeM PGR Daniel Portelli rehearsing w/ Ellen Fallowfield & Stephen Menotti. Premiere tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/Doq7EYisVQ
— CeReNeM (@HuddCeReNeM) February 4, 2015
Bruce Crossman reports from the Asian Music Festival 2014, held in Yokohama and Tokyo 1-7 November.
“Australian composer Daniel Portelli produced a work of living breath that undulated its way into being. Portelli’s piece, entitled Undulations, explored shakuhachi-like breath qualities of two soprano saxophones whose long airy dronal qualities were reed-stabbed with dabs of colour which gradually grew in density and tension before subtly subsiding back into breath tones. The unpredictable inevitability of the shifting dabs of colour harkened to Jackson Pollock-like ‘blue poles’ of sound. This visual approach to sound is something that the late venerable Peter Sculthorpe identified as an Australian approach to sound perhaps drawn from a visual landscape culture and certainly expressed in his Sun Music series.”
Living Breath, Juxtapositional Flow and Emergent Spirit
Image: Daniel Portelli, Andrián Pertout,
Howard Dillon and Bruce Crossman at
Shibuya Cultural Center Owada Sakura Hall
© Katia Pertout
My performance at Soundstreams Emerging Composers Forum in Adelaide on 4 November 2014 won the Winston Music ECF commission of $1500 for my piano multimedia work, Mapping Australia (2014). Performed by Gabriella Smart, the concert was recorded to be broadcast on ABC Classic FM’s New Music Up Late program on 29 November at 10:30pm. I was also asked to write a new work for the Soundstream Collective.
Daniel recently represented Australia as the Young Composer Representative at the Asian Music Festival 2014 in Tokyo and Yokohama from 1-7 November 2014.
My piano work Mapping Australia (2014) was chosen by a jury to be performed at
Soundstream: Adelaide New Music Festival.
This is what was said about the competition: “A large number of works were received and the mentoring composers, Stephen Whittington (AUS), Melody Eotvos (AUS) and Jan-Bas Bollen (Nl), acknowledged that the selection process was intense, due to the quality of the works submitted. Melody Eotvos commented on the outcome: ‘the five scores that we did choose will certainly all be very strong contenders for the commissions.’
Here is a media article about my work Undulations (2014) for two soprano saxophones:
I participated in an insightful workshop by the Social Anthropologist Tim Ingold, at Leeds University. Run by CePRA (Centre for Practice-Led Research in the Arts).
The event focused on Ingold’s research into overcoming the distinction between ‘practical’ and ‘intellectual’ craft, and related problems such as the tension between ‘creativity’ and ‘research’, or whether we might think of a new word – not ‘research’, not ‘scholarship’, but something else instead – to describe the generation of new knowledge.
I have been selected to represent Australia at the Asian Composers League Young Composer Competition at the 32nd Asian Composers League Conference and Festival, 2-7 November, 2014 in Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan, with my work Undulations for two soprano saxophones.
I participated in a workshop reading session of my work Falls and Rises (2014) with soprano singer Peyee Chen as part of the Centre for Research in New Music Program (CeReNeM) in Huddersfield, England.
February 2013 – Past Collaborations
My orchestral work Finding Kensho was performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as part of the Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers’ Program – with mentoring by Australian composer Nigel Butterley.
(conductor Benjamin Northey with composer Daniel Portelli in Melbourne, 2012)
All content © 2019 Daniel Portelli