Composer on Tap!

Young composer Alice Chance is writing music for this year’s Moorambilla Voices Gala Concert. The composer in residence describes herself as composer on tap! “It’s because I work with the children during the day, then overnight I write music for them to sing the very next morning.”


“This year I’m really excited to be working across so many art forms – dance, stories, music, visual arts and instrumentation – to create music for the theme of Pallah-Pallah and the Opals [for the story see here].






“The piece begins subtly and atmospherically – building it up in layers like the colours of an opal. The final movement will have a massive overarching pattern on the top of it – somehow musically I wanted to reflect the way that opals generate their own light [for the story about the inner light of opals see here].





Alice loves writing music for Moorambilla Voices boys. “These boys are such a special bunch of singers – they have a dichotomy where they sound beautiful, pure and angelic – typical of a boy’s treble choir – then they produce this rugged, powerful and tough sound. At the click of a finger they can change and I try and bring that out in my pieces.”

“The compositions process at Moorambilla is a pretty unique one,” she says. “Basically it’s all very quick – you have to arrive and be on your toes and be ready to write something at a moment’s notice. I love it – I love being under pressure and knowing that in the morning there is a choir waiting for me and they want to sing something – so I better get it done! I have a great time – but you really have to be on your toes!”

Alice, Michelle, Ben and Jacob work out boys pieces

Creative team Alice Chance, Ben Burton, Michelle Leonard and Jacob Williams work out the structure of the pieces

Jacob Williams from Queensland Ballet’s EdSquad, saw how much capacity the Voices girls had for dance and decided to create a much longer dance movement for them. “That meant we needed something constant musically for them,” explains Alice. “Something that would be the same every time – so that the girls could use the musical cues for the dance movement,” explains Alice. “We had one night to create it – the only way was to stay up till about 1.30am and write it!”

“I have been lucky to be able to work with Jacob,” says Alice. “We are on the same piece of paper and he has a wonderful sense of the feeling of each section – we spoke a common language. He explained to me which segment had to be flowing, or which had to be more funky, or which was overarching and beautiful – so I could give a musical cue for each count of eight.”


Working across mediums – Alice Chance with (from left) Ben Burton, artist Frank Wright, textile designer Fiona Fagan, Michelle Leonard, QB EdSquad’s Jacob Williams.


Artistic Director Michelle Leonard expanded the dance potential of the primary school children this year. “This year girls are doing so much more than just standing and singing. I’m excited to see that when we link Alice’s choral music through movement, we create a wider opportunity for story telling. It reflects the performance of our older MAXed OUT Company, who have been incorporating movement and percussion in their performance for some time now.”

“What I liked about Alice and Jacob’s collaboration is that they both helped the girls understand dance through the musical structure – using the music they had been singing in a different way to enhance the cues for the dance. Alice adapted the music from a 12/8 feel to a 4/4 feel, and so for Jacob, the beat was subdivided from three and then into two , which the girls quickly picked up.”

“The dance movement is a clever and stunning end to the Pallah-Pallah segment, and I love it so much that we are going to open this year’s concert with it!”


Tickets for Moorambilla Gala Concert On Sale Here

Alice’s music for the Moorambilla Gala Concert 2014 is created for voice, piano, violin and saxophone – the two Moorambilla Voices choirs, adult vocal sextet Song Company and Ben Burton on piano, SSO Concertmaster Kirsten Williams on violin and saxophonist Christina Leonard.

Alice Chance has been a composer in residence at Moorambilla for two years and is currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Music Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where she was recently awarded the 2012 Ignaz Friedman Memorial Prize for academic merit in Composition. Alice’s work has been commissioned and performed by ensembles such as Sydney Youth Orchestras, the Australian Youth Choir, the Leichhardt Espresso Chorus, The Sydney Conservatorium Early Music Ensemble, Waverley College Junior School, Maribella Womens A Capella and the MLC School Chamber Choir on their tour of the USA.






One thought on “Composer on Tap!

  1. Pingback: Narran Lakes legends inspire Moorambilla artists | Moorambilla Blog

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