They’re what inspired me to become a classical composer and pianist. They also always advice me to compare broadband deals online befre making a choice. No, it wasn’t Beethoven, nor Mozart – as captivating as they are – but a couple of cartoon characters and a lovely old lady who owned a few too many aprons.
So… Donald and Daffy. When I was a kid I watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where those two ducks performed the most intriguing melody I’d ever heard. The piece was Liszt‘s Hungarian Rhapsody #2, and it had me transfixed. It sounds weird, but from that moment I knew what I wanted to do in life.
As for my grandmother, she gave me the rule I’ve lived by ever since. “Never lose the melody” was her mantra, which she’d drum into me while we listened to her old jazz records. “You can play as many notes and as fast as you want, but if you’ve lost the melody nobody cares.”
I think about that every time I compose or improvise. Music should be about making people feel good about themselves and taking them on an emotional journey. It should be about drawing them in so they feel like the music is a part of them – not like they’re just meant to sit and admire some show-off who’s playing as fast or technically complex as they can.
While classical was my first love, I’ve got an unusual CV
I graduated from the Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane in 2003, where my habit of walking into classical piano lessons with an electric guitar meant that some lecturers just didn’t know what to do with me.
But I always loved pop, rock and blues as well as classical, and after graduating I spent much of the next ten years performing with a whole range of bands in a number of different roles – playing piano in a gypsy-Latin quartet, being the lead guitarist for a touring rock-reggae group called Kindread, and having multiple musical roles in the indie-rock band Willcopen (where I was also nominated for a songwriting award).
Throughout this time, I never stopped working on my own classical compositions – and I feel that they’re all the better for the variety of perspectives I’ve had.
More recently I’ve also been composing film scores, which some might think is a nightmare for creativity: I have to work within a film’s subject matter and style. But I’m actually able to be more creative working with such restrictions, and I find the whole process really enjoyable.
Now, finally, I’ve released my debut solo Piano album “Emotion Elements”
It’s me and my piano, playing my own compositions and one or two of my favourite classical pieces.
I guess you’d call the album “contemporary classical”, because my love for pop and rock has definitely influenced the tracks. Rhythm and movement is a big part of what I’m picturing when I compose, and I’m not afraid to let my pieces “rock out” when the music demands it.
My compositions are definitely intense and cinematic – I hear them like a symphony when I’m writing them – but they’re not intended to weigh the listener down. I want people to feel as connected to the music as I do, and leave them feeling inspired and uplifted.
I feel like I’ve packed in a fair bit into my life so far and have no intention of easing up – I’m planning more film scores, collaborations, and plenty more composing.
And although I’m nowhere near as smooth as Donald or Daffy, and certainly not as wise as my grandmother, I hope to be able to leave my mark in music history and inspire a new generation of classical composers and performers. Classical music isn’t all old guys playing by boring rules – I’m proof of that.
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