Interview with Graeme Morton

Australian composer and conductor Graeme Morton is currently directing the St Peters Chorale and Brisbane Chamber Choir. With such music ensembles he has produced numerous recordings. He is a Choral Conducting Fellow, Master of Music program conveyor, Senior Lecturer at the School of Music, University of Queensland. Musicologist Ona Jarmalavičiūtė talks with the musician about the creativity and music composition.

What are your thoughts about this quote: “Works of art have been compared to icebergs: what is visible is but a small part of the whole. An artwork might seem to exist in splendid isolation, but that impression is misleading. Cultural products inevitably arise from a context, a submerged landscape that is often not easily accessible”?

This is true at many levels – he music I write arises from all the musical experiences prior to that moment. It is very obvious to me what all those influences are, and at one and the same time I feel constrained by them, and yet they also provide the path forward.

The peek is the current composition. The bottom is every previous composition, every hour of practice, every moment of improvisation and exploration, every listening experience, the study of music that have me a conceptual framework to inherit.

Do you have certain patterns, structures when it comes to your creative process?

I only write choir music so the structures come from the text. I do have “a sound” so thgis implies patterns are used and are recurring.

What is the most fun and the most boring part in the compositional process?

The fun is playing through the piece so far, savoring the music. The boring part is immediately after composing it, when I usually put it away as tired and dull, only to rediscover it after a period of letting it sit fallow.

How do you usually create a new idea of a piece?

Either finding a text I would like to set, and then sitting at the keyboard exploring possible ideas.

How does the process of forming an idea looks like?

Through improvisation.

What do you do to get into your creative zone?

It comes to me – usually when I have a less-pressured time slot available – sometimes just a spare day.

Please describe your state of mind when you are creating something

Restless – I walk away constantly and find myself returning to it.

How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?

Because I tire of it. The text is all set, and I keep returning to play iot and titivate it, and when tired of the process it is declared done. I guess it is when I play it and do not find things to add or change.

Do you critique your own work? Explain.

Yes – usually negatively in the short terms, and only find it interesting after a fallow time.

Do you identify with your creative product? Explain.

No – not well. When I do perform them, I do not rehearse them sufficiently as I am reluctant to commit to the idea that the music deserves full attention

Thank you for the interview!

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