Preview :: International Time Space Concerto Competition

June 27th 2012

‘Concerto’ isn’t a word we throw around a whole lot here at FBi. It conjures up scenes of grand classical splendour, complete with chandeliers, orchestra pit and a whole lot of outlandish arm-waving from that chap with the baton. Either that, or your grandma’s CD collection.

However, we’ve had our eyes opened to the world of the not-so-classical concerto thanks to a new contest run by the University of Newcastle, called (drumroll…) the International Space Time Concerto Competition. The competition offers the unique opportunity for 6 finalists to perform with an accompanying orchestra at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music Concert Hall. Another 2 finalists will take part in an international internet-linked ensemble spanning 5 countries. And there’s a total prize pool of $50,000. Phew!

What we love about this competition is that anyone can enter: classical instrumentalists and jazzsters, bands of all genres, and electronic, experimental and new media artists. You can team up with other composers, performers, producers and AV/mixing engineers to produce one hell of a ‘concerto’ – one that you get to design entirely yourself.

We got the lowdown on this massive project from the project manager, Tracy Redhead, plus a few inside tips on how to get yourself a place.


FBi: How did you come up with the concept for this competition? It’s pretty ambitious! 

It all started when highly generous and respected donor Jennie Thomas wanted to promote the new directions of the Newcastle  Conservatorium and do something huge and exciting. This resulted with a decision to have an International Concerto competition reflective of the Conservatorium’s music program, one that celebrates the past and promotes the future. We have worked on developing this concept over the past 2 years so it is pretty exciting to see it in fruition.

What does the term “concerto” mean to you in terms of this competition?

The term concerto basically means a soloist performing in front of an orchestra. The form of the concerto has changed over history and we are interested of today’s interpretations of what a concerto could represent. For example during the Baroque period audiences were in the center of the room with musicians performed around them. This would have been a very immersive experience for the audience. During the classical period of musical history the concerto focused on the virtuoso musicians fronting an orchestra in a traditional concert hall. Today in very loose terms a concerto could be a soloist in front of a band.

The competition is called the “International Space Time Concerto” – sounds alittle bit space-age – can you explain the name?

The celebrated composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein was right when he said “any great work of art readapts time and space.” Music exists in time and sounds in a space, be it real or virtual. The competition will showcase the evolution of approaches to space and time in the concerto form throughout history. The placement of the audience is crucial to these approaches.

Spatialisation of musicians has always been a feature of the visually engaging concerto form. Think of the juxtaposition of soloist against choir, band against band or instrumentalist against orchestra. In each of these the visual and sonic focus of the audience shifts from one to the other. Now, with the advent of the internet, this facet of performance can extend beyond the stage, beyond the concert hall, to link musicians and artists in disparate venues – even in different countries. The interaction between time and space in the concerto throws up an incredible number of artistic possibilities and the International Space Time Concerto Competition invites entrants to explore these new avenues for dynamic, cutting-edge presentation.

There are two categories for entries: can you explain the difference between them?

The two categories are Historical and Innovative. The Historical category celebrates the concerto form, across different periods of musical history, from the Baroque, Classical/Romantic or Modern/Post Modern eras.

The Innovative Category represents some significant themes and trends effecting music making in the 21st century. To summarize we encourage innovative and creative entries based on the following areas:

Remix / Recontextualisation – Looks at trends of re-use, remix culture, mash ups and sampling so basically your could remix a live orchestra, re-orchestration of an existing concerto or rewrite the solo part of an existing concerto for a jazz quartet, DJ and Hip Hop artist or singer. The options are endless you come up with the ideas and if selected you will get the chance to realize your work.

New Modes of Presentation – This section provides the opportunity to explore new ways or approaches to the concerto form. This could include: extending the orchestra into new directions; new instrumentation; popular, world or jazz music influences; hybrid forms; the use of computers, synthesisers or other electronic devices, digital and new media etc. The work could be an acoustic work or involve technology and interfaces.

We will talk about the final area, Networked Music Performance below.

Is there much room for collaboration, or is it individual ideas only?

We encourage collaborations and individual ideas in both categories. Within the Innovative category we would love to see collaborations between performers, producers, AV engineers, Digital and new media artists, visualization, animation etc.

Among the entries so far, has there been a majority of classical/orchestral artists, or quite a range?

Strangely enough the entries have been fairly equal. In the last couple of days though there has been a rise in historical entries. I think this due to the fact that a concerto competition doesn’t usually appeal to
such a diverse range of musicians and artists.

One of the opportunities offered to finalists is an “internet-linked ensemble spanning 5 countries” … how the heck?!

Due to the power of the Internet it is now possible for musicians that are thousands of kilometres apart, to play together from their own spaces simultaneously and in real time. As such, entries are open for you to produce a work for a Networked Music Performance with the support of the International Telematic Ensemble, which is made up of musicians spanning five countries including Linz (Austria), Singapore, Beijing (China), Auckland (New Zealand) and of course Newcastle (Australia). You are invited to adapt, remix or recontextualise an existing concerto or compose your own concerto.

We are looking for creative and innovative entries that explore new ways to utilize networked music performance and latency. You will have the opportunity to explore visualization with screens and collaborate with our international partners to produce your work. Telematic means the real time sending and receiving of information via the internet, wireless and satellite. Due to the distance and speed of transmission of the audio and video, there will be a delay. This is called latency and is an unavoidable parameter of networked music performance.

Any advice for people uploading their entries in the final week? What makes an entrant stand out? 

My advice would be not to miss out on getting your entry in!
In the Historical section musicianship, interpretation and performance skills will be the key. In the innovative section we are looking for creativity, originality, musicianship and of course stage presence.

Also remember you only need to provide a concept, sketches and proof you can deliver your ideas. You don’t have to submit a fully developed and completed project.


WHAT: International Space Time Concerto Competition
WHEN: Entries close midnight July 1 – get in quick!
ENTRY: Free to enter


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