Music & Sound Projects

Speechless: The Polar Realm – Original music for feature film (2015) (45’)
Commissioned by & in collaboration with film-maker Richard Sidey
Premiere at Documentary Edge festival (NZ), 21 May 2015
Subsequent screenings include: Documentary Edge festival (NZ) 23, 25 May, 5, 8, 13 June; World Ocean’s Day Hawai’i 2015, June 2015; CayFilm: Cayman Islands International Film Festival, 19 June 2015; New Zealand Mountain Film Festival 2015, July 2015; Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, October 2015.

Awards:
Best Music & Nature Film (2015)
Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, New York

Best of Festival (2015)
Wolves Independent International Film Festival, Lithuania

Best New Zealand Cinematography (2015)
Documentary Edge Festival, New Zealand

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This Earthly Round (2014) (8′)
Alto Saxophone and Prepared Piano
Commissioned by Michael Duke and premiered by HD Duo: Michael Duke and David Howie

Commissioned and Premiered by HD Duo: Michael Duke and David Howie at NASA (North American Saxophone Alliance Conference), Illinois, USA, March 2014

Subsequent performances: Kyle Hutchins & Neil Qiang – Studio Z, St Paul, USA, 6 March 2015 & University of Minnesota, 24 March 2015; Kyle Hutchins and Hyun Kim – Recital Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, CO, 19 October 2015 @ 7:30pm.

HD Duo – Mexico, 25, 27, 28, 29 April 2015; Queensland Conservatorium of Music, 15 May 2015; Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Perth, 8 August 2015; Sydney Conservatorium of Music, 25 August 2015; St John’s Southgate, Southbank, Melbourne, 29 August 2015; Charles Darwin University, 9 October 2015.
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Solstice LAMP for VIVID Sydney (2013) Interactive Sound and Light Installation
In collaboration with Luke Hespanhol, Martin Tomitsch, Reuben Young, Oliver Bown, Digital Pulse, Amplify Festival, Vivid Festival

AMP Building, Circular Quay, Sydney, 24th May – 10th June, 2013

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Chatterbox (2013) Sound Installation
Collaboration with Oliver Bown (Design Lab, University of Sydney)
Micro-computers, Dickensian storytelling, live signal processing

Premiered at Tin Sheds Spots, Old School House, Darlington, Sydney, 21 February 2013
ICMC Perth, Hackett Hall, West Australian Museum, 15th August, 2013

Realtime Arts 117
‘Complexity from Simple Tools’
John Barton

‘With sonic variety and colourful instrumental exploration, the 5th of the International Computer Music Conference concerts prominently featured works for percussion and electronics. In Chatterbox, Oliver Bown [UK/AUS] and Miriama Young [UK] saturated the room with sound—from Raspberry Pis [credit-card-sized single board computers]—planted under the seating. Spatialised sine waves were juxtaposed with a wonderful, shimmering static layer. Chatterbox was imaginative, never losing itself to electronic music clichés.’…

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Inner (2012) 7′
A sound-film collaboration
Video Direction, Cinematograhy & Editing : Richard Sidey
Composition, Vocals & Harmonium : Miriama Young

Percussion : Chuck Staab
Guitar : Mark Dancigers
Bass : Ken Pendergast

Premiered at AllShorts Festival, New Zealand, 27 October, 2012

 

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Zen Story (2010) 16′
Scottish Opera – Five: 15
Zen Story (Video extract)
Music: Miriama Young
Words: Alan Spence

A young girl finds herself pregnant. When confronted by her parents she declares the child is a holy man’s. Despite the threat to his reputation and position, he accepts responsibility without complaint…but why? A timeless tale of humanity and forgiveness, with music inspired by the richly resonant sounds of the temple.

Premiered at Word Festival, Aberdeen 15, 16 May 2010
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 20, 21, 22 May 2010
Oran Mor, Glasgow 25, 26, 27 May 2010

‘The first woman composer to be featured in the Five:15 portfolio is a New Zealander…. Young’s music alludes to the east and sounds of the temple through its sonorities’. – Carol Main, The List, 14 May 2010

‘Only Miriama Young and Alan Spence’s Zen Story tries to pack a full-length opera into 15 minutes. The rest are cast largely as single episodes with a tendency towards melodrama’. – Rowena Smith, The Guardian, 16 May 2010

‘Zen and the art of making music’, Profile – Miriama Young – Michael Tumelty,The Herald, 17 May 2010

‘Although Western attempts to understand Buddhism are frequently problematic – the translation of the key ideas into Christian philosophy has led to a generation of mistaking a vibrant tradition with a vague self-satisfied quietism – Zen Story is fifteen minutes that reflects on a famous parable. Shoving a pithy slogan and allusions to other Zen stories into the mix, and a score that suggests Japan rather than orientalise the orchestra, librettist Alan Spence and composer Miriama Young match the simplicity of the myth with a gentle opera.

‘Naturally, the passions that drive opera are submerged beneath the Buddhist insistence on acceptance: in this subtle tension, the words are allowed to resonate and the monk-hero Hakuin’s message of compassion for suffering is illuminated. Simple phrases become resonant. When Hakuin concludes “is that so?”, the depth of his teaching is radiantly apparent.

‘The 5:15 format here becomes the ideal medium for expression of an idea, as the drama of opera recedes into the simple set and reflective commentary. Hakuin’s antagonist, a young, pregnant girl, is given character – something lacking in most versions of the myth, thanks to Zen’s frequently macho spirituality. Short and concise, this is elegant, contemporary performance that manipulates its traditons to moving effect’. – Gareth K Vile, The Skinny, 17 May 2010

‘The unhurried unfolding of Miriama Young’s Zen Story… conjured appropriate atmospheres…. Writer Alan Spence and composer Miriama Young were complementary in their expression of the relationship between words and music. The Copland-esque, minimalist opera was an entity’. – Michael Tumelty, The Herald, 17 May 2010

‘The piece which worked best for me was the opener, Zen Story, mainly because of its atmospheric orchestration. Concerning a holy man in modern Japan, the mystical, almost gamelan-influenced score fitted the material like a glove…. It also successfully fitted a whole scenario into the 15-minute format. In an evening of distinguished vocal performances,… there was a welcome return from Dean Robinson whose rich bass was perfect for the holy man in Zen Story’. – Simon Thompson, Musicweb International, 20 May 2010

‘Miriama Young’s score for Alan Spence’s Zen Story has a strong Japanese feel. It is an excellently conceived piece which sees Miranda Sinani’s Girl blame Dean Robinson’s Zen master, Hakuin, for getting her pregnant…. There are flashes of vivid emotion in the score, while Spence’s libretto has a truly enigmatic twist. Great stuff’. – Thom Dibdin, Annals of the Edinburgh Stage, 21 May 2010

‘Of all the operas presented last night, the first, Zen Story by Miriama Young and Alan Spence, was my favourite. It tells the story of a monk who is said to be the father of a young girl’s child. Simple and elegant, the music and the text paced the story perfectly. Interestingly, this was the only performance that didn’t seem too long’. – Jake Danson-Faraday, Fresh Air, 21 May 2010

‘Miriama Young’s Zen Story, a tale of humanity and forgiveness devised by Alan Spence, has easily the best score, with suggestive chord-clusters and an elegiac mood…. The production, directed by Michael McCarthy and Matthew Richardson, makes the most of simple means, and the Scottish Opera orchestra proves its versatility under Derek Clark’. – Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 21 May 2010

‘Miriama Young’s Zen Story, to words by Alan Spence, is spacious and pungent, with a gaunt simplicity that echoes Stravinsky’.– Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman, 23 May 2010

‘Miriama Young’s concentrated Zen Story to a libretto by Alan Spence has a meditative quality with circling chord clusters and a bluesy trumpet’.– Lynne Walker, The Independent on Sunday, 1 June, 2010

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Beds (2009) 7′
spoken poetry, found sound recordings, singing voice

voice, harmonium: Miriama Young
spoken poetry: Catherine Bowman
found sound recordings: Young, Bowman

Premiered at Woodend Barn, Scotland, May 2009

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The Point of Contact (2008) 5′
the voice and electronic modulation

voice, harmonium: Miriama Young
bass: Ken Pendergast
drums: Charles Staab

Premiered at Woodend Barn, Scotland, May 2009

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Two Monk Miniatures (2006) 3′
arrangements of two Thelonious Monk standards:
Blue Monk and Brilliant Corners
(tuned percussion, “found” percussion)

Premiered by So Percussion, Princeton, Feb 2006

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Souffle (2006) 10′
voice and harmonium

Performed music by Miriama Young (voice, harmonium)
Choreographed dance by Anemone Dance Theater
CRS, New York City, Oct & Nov 2006

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The Inner Voices of Blue (2006) 12′
pierrot ensemble with mezzo-soprano plus percussion
text: “Côte d’Azur,” by Sarah Arvio

New Millennium Ensemble w Rebecca Ringle, Princeton, Nov 2006
New Music Group, Aberdeen University Chapel, Scotland, May 2009

“For her piece entitled The Inner Voices of Blue…. The poem… speaks of the sea, of water and of tides and Miriama’s instrumental writing coloured many aspects of this seascape most effectively. It was a moving and wonderfully imaginative piece of sound painting.” – Alan Cooper reviewing the UK premiere of Inner Voices of Blue

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1, 000 Kisses (2005) 5′
features Cathy Bowman’s speaking of her poem 1, 000 Kisses, integrated into an electronic poem-scape

Performed at Cowdray Hall, Aberdeen, Scotland, Oct 2008
Woodend Barn, Banchory, Scotland, May 2009

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Côte d’Azur (2004) 12′
clarinet, cello, piano, tenor
text: “Côte d’Azur,” by Sarah Arvio

Nash Ensemble of London w John Gilchrist, Princeton, April 2005

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Titlipur (2003-2004) 13′
interactive sound-dance performance with video projections
Titlipur Video

Sound design and composition by Miriama Young, with performance, choreography & costume created by Sara Baird of Anemone Dance Theater in collaboration with Video Artist Lee Whittier

Gallery 138 Installation, Chelsea, New York, Feb 2005
Australasian Computer Music Conference w dancer Kristian Larsen, NZSM, June 2004
The Puffin Room, New York, Anemone Dance Theater, May 2004
“Listening in the Sound Kitchen” Princeton, Nov 2003
Dancespace Center, Soho, New York, Sept 2003

“The gardens were deep in the mist, through which the butterfly clouds were swirling, one mist intersecting another,” – Salman Rushdie

Titlipur is a real time interactive piece for dance, utilizing custom-made hardware. The choreography is drawn from the Butoh tradition and explores the human habitation of a bird-like form through movement. For the interactive sound component, Sara manipulates in real time birdsong samples of a bird endemic to the islands of New Zealand, the Tui. In terms of the technology, custom-made hardware features a pair of accelerometers attached to the dancer’s hands, so that as she moves, a signal is sent in real-time via basic stamp to a Max MSP patch.

The sounds themselves, as they are derived from bird song, have a vocal-like quality, which Sara exploits in her theatrical interplay between sonic performance and choreographic improvisation – as if the bird-like creature were speaking or “voiced” through her body. In this way, the dancer transforms the birdsong using her body, and the role of dancer, choreographer and composer elide in performance, creating a palpable tension that challenges our traditional notions of the relationship between the body and music in works for dance. She plays her body to make song, but also dances to the sounds she makes with her body. Additionally, I composed an electronic soundscape that provides the background accompaniment to Sara’s structured interactive improvisation.

This piece featured in Anemone Dance Theater’s show series at the Puffin Room in New York City, and as an installation at Gallery 138 in Chelsea, NYC.

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Warmbeat Domain (2004) 8′
orchestra

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Princeton, May 2004

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L’Horloge (The Clock) (2003) 11′
pierrot ensemble plus percussion
text: “L’Horloge,” by Charles Baudelaire
“My Metal Throat Can Speak All Tongues”

Now Ensemble, Princeton, Dec 2006
Now Ensemble, Tenri Cultural Institute, NYC, Feb 2006
Proteus Ensemble w Melissa Madden-Gray, Princeton, May 2003

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Snapdragon (2003) 9′
baritone saxophone & percussion
Snapdragon Video (YouTube)
Composed for and premiered by the Yesaroun’ Duo

CD: Waiteata Collection of NZ Music, 2005
Score published by Waiteata Music Press, 2005

Selected performances:
Daniel Stenziano, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY, 20 April 2013
University of West Georgia Bands, Townsend Center for the Performing Arts, Carrollton, Georgia, USA, November 29, 2012
MATCH Percussion’s Alison Eddinton & Michael Duke at the Recital Hall East, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Australia, 2010 ISCM World New Music Days Festival 05 May 2010
Tempo Dance Festival (choreographed performance) Auck, NZ, Oct 2008
Jim Geddes, UWEC, Wisconsin, USA, 20 Oct 2008
Vibeslap Duo, Bigastro, Alicante, Spain, 29 Nov 2008
Michael Jamieson, and Ruud Roelofsen, Amsterdam Passenger Terminal, Amsterdam Piet Heinkade 27, 20 Aug 2008
Michael Jamieson, ArtEZ Conservatorium, The Netherlands, June 2007
Te Whaea (choreographed performance) Wellington, NZ, May, June 2007
Bang on a Can Summer Institute, MassMoca, MA, July 2003
Yesaroun’ Duo, Princeton, May 2003

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The Prime Cut (2002) 22′
The Prime Cut on Amazon.com
sound documentary on the Meatpacking District of New York

Radio New Zealand Dec 2002
Resonance FM – London, UK, Dec 2002
Resonance FM–London, UK, Nov 2002
Taplin Auditorium, Princeton University May 2002
National Public Radio (NPR) – USA, October 2002; May 2005

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Learning to Breathe on the A-Train (2002) 12′
large chamber ensemble

Commissioned and premiered by Stroma, with support from Creative New Zealand
Stroma, Wellington International Jazz Festival, New Zealand, Oct 2002

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Speak Volumes (2000) 9′
fixed media, electro-acoustic, with spoken voice

The piece features on CD in the book, Just Like Us; alongside an analysis and commentary by Dr Dugal McKinnon.
An earlier version of the piece also features on the CD New Zealand Sonic Art 2000

“Voices in the Air” Victoria University, New Zealand, Aug 2002
“Experiments in Sound” Adam Art Gallery, Victoria Uni, NZ, Aug 2000

‘The dark and ominous murmurings in the music are simply the dark castles of Chronos at the End of Time crumbling under the sweeping magic of Miriama’s wand!’
– Sonoloco Record Reviews

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Iron Tongues (2000, revised 2004) 7′
percussion trio

Commissioned and premiered by Strike Percussion Ensemble, with support from Creative New Zealand

Features on the CD New Zealand Percussion Music

Selected Performances:
Quey Percussion, Bloomsburg University, PA, Oct 2006
Quey Percussion, East Hartford, CT, Oct 2006
Quey Percussion, The Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, CT, Nov 2006
So Percussion Ensemble, Taplin Auditorium, Princeton, NJ, April 2006
TimeTable Percussion, Saratoga, NY, Jan 2005
So Percussion, Princeton, Dec 2004
Strike Percussion, Nelson College, NZ, July 2001
Strike Percussion, Massey University, Wellington, NZ, May 2001
Strike Percussion, Baycourt Theatre, Tauranga, NZ, April 2001
Strike Percussion, NRSM, Manchester, UK, Nov 2000
Strike Percussion, Wellington Town Hall, NZ, Oct 2000
‘Iron Tongues by Miriama Young… explored the phenomenal timbre of the marimba
beautifully’.
– The Nelson Mail (New Zealand), 19 July 2001

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Monkish (1999) 6′
tuned percussion ensemble

Wellington International Jazz Festival, New Zealand, Oct 1999
Musicwomen Aotearoa: The Third Composing Women’s Festival, NZ, April 1999

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Caul (1999) 10′
clarinet & electronics

Concert of Contemporary New Zealand Music, IAML Conference, July 1999
Imaginary Space, Australasian Computer Music Conference, July 1999
Musicwomen Aotearoa: Third Composing Women’s Festival, NZ, April 1999
“Gum”, Amalgam’s Show in the Wellington Fringe Festival, NZ, Feb 1999
First Prize – Victoria University Composers’ Competition, NZ, Sept 1998
Wellington City Council Music Prize, NZ, 1998

‘First prize was won by the same student as last year, Miriama Young… for Caul for solo clarinet and tape. It was of exquisite refinement, careful construction, and a cumulative emotional impact that drew you increasingly into it’.
– Lindis Taylor, The Evening Post (New Zealand), 16 September 1998.

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Bent (1999) 6′
electronic

“Music in Space,” Wellington City Art Gallery, New Zealand, August 1998

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Like Two Balls of Liquid Silver Pedalling the Sky (1998) 8′
in four easy movements
baritone saxophone & electronics

“Banging, Blowing and Bowing”, Wellington Fringe Festival, NZ, Feb 1998
First Prize – Victoria University Composers’ Competition, NZ, Sept 1997