Featured compositions

OPPOSITES ATTRACT for solo piano ─ composed by Antonio Tenace ©2016

Performed by Michael Kieran Harvey at the Creativity Unlimited Music Festival, Western Sydney University, NSW, Australia, 1 September 2016.

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Composer’s note: The archetypical feature of this composition is the deployment of the whole-tone scale in conjunction with its complement to generate a large majority of the thematic and harmonic material. This scale is considered to be limited in relation to extended musical expression due to its entirely uniform structure which consists of a succession of six whole steps without any key centre. Essentially, the scale is its own inversion, has another resultant whole-tone scale as its complement, and offers no structural change when mirrored. With these perceived limitations at play, I thought it would be an interesting challenge to compose a work for piano that not only juxtaposes the two-forms of the whole tone scale, but also the ‘quirky’ and conventional character of the piece. Hence the title “Opposites Attract”.

KONTRAPUNKT for saxophone quartet ─ composed by Antonio Tenace ©2005
Performed by Simon Charles (soprano sax), Lachlan Davidson (alto sax), Tony Hicks (tenor sax) & Tarko Sibbel (baritone sax) for the presentation of the 2006 Zavod Jazz/Classical Fusion Award at Melba Hall, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 10 September 2007.

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Click here for the presentation of the award by Allan Zavod (adjudicator)

Click the ‘play’ button below in the audio player to hear the full concert performance of ‘Kontrapunkt’

Composer’s note: The piece is essentially through-composed in which a large majority of the contrapuntal textures are employed as a means of creating a tapestry of harmony without the application of the stringent rules and procedures of counterpoint, although the title “Kontrapunkt” may suggest otherwise. The overall structure is realized through a framework of four main sections that do not appear as clear individual divisions, but which are designed to depict changes of character within the temporal flow of the composition.

JEALOUSY: music and prose for alto saxophone, baritone saxophone and percussion ─ composed by Antonio Tenace ©2009
Performed by Lachlan Davidson (alto saxophone), Stuart Byrne (baritone saxophone) and Eugene Ughetti (percussion) at the Melbourne Composers’ League ‘Spring’ concert, Fitzroy Town Hall, Victoria, Australia, 6 December 2009.

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Composer’s note: The idea for this piece was initiated by my interest in composing a work based on the Seven Deadly Sins, specifically ‘Envy’. In order to convey this emotion into a tangible expression of music, I decided to write a brief poem entitled “Jealousy” so as to integrate the text as prose with my own music using speech interaction as an extra-musical event. As a composer, I thought it would also be interesting for the performers to summon their acting skills in conjunction with their musical talents.

OUT-TAKES for amplified string quartet and tape ─ composed by Antonio Tenace ©2005
Performed by Silo String Quartet – Aaron Barnden (violin), Jessica Bell (violin), Ceridwen Davies (viola) and Caerwen Martin (cello) at the Melbourne Composers’ League “Four Colours: ORANGE” concert, Richmond Town Hall, Richmond, Victoria, Australia, 9 December, 2012.

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Composer’s note: The idea for this piece evolved from a chance recording of a conversation contained on a CD which I bought several years ago entitled ‘Jerry Lee Lewis – the alternate collection’. Either by accident or by design, the microphones were left running during the second take of Great Balls of Fire of which a religious discussion ensues between Jerry Lee Lewis and his producer Sam Phillips from Sun Records. As this conversation became quite animated, I began to notice the rhythmic and melodic contours of their voice inflections which were punctuated by their distinctive southern American accents, and I was immediately fascinated by the thought of transcribing some of these voice samples and integrating them within a string quartet environment à la Steve Reich. This is the result.

KAEMELEON a soundscape (electroacoustic) ─ composed by Antonio Tenace ©2006
Composed, programmed and recorded by Antonio Tenace. Premiered at the Melbourne Composers’ League Elbow Room concert, Dizzy’s Jazz Bar, Richmond, Victoria, Australia, 29 May 2006.

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Composer’s note: The principle strategy of this composition is to demonstrate the propagation of transitional sound colours and timbres within an electro‐acoustic environment. This concept was inspired by the faculty which the chameleon (a native lizard of Africa) possesses – i.e. the unique ability to change its skin colour as a camouflage response to temperature, light and mood. The design of this piece therefore encompasses recorded samples of sounds collected from different settings, which have been sculptured to create a modulating soundscape of waveforms. The array of these samples emanate from recordings containing environmental, urban, instrumental and studio produced sounds. These recordings include wildlife sounds from Kinglake National Park, traffic noise from my residential street, samples of musical instruments and my own voice. Each of the recorded samples were spliced, manipulated and processed using digital techniques as a means of creating additional secondary source samples of sound, all of which have been assembled and selectively combined with their primary source samples.

BOULT TO MARINA for mezzo soprano voice and two guitars ─ composed by Antonio Tenace ©2008
Performed by Deborah Kayser (voice), Ken Murray (guitar) and Geoffrey Morris (guitar) at the Melbourne Composers’ League ‘Crossing the Blue’ concert, Trinity Uniting Church, Brighton, Victoria, Australia, 9 November 2008.

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Composer’s note: ‘Boult to Marina’ was composed using the text setting from a poem written by Ern Malley, a fictitious Australian poet created by James McAuley and Harold Stewart during the 1940s. For those who are unfamiliar with the notoriety, McAuley and Stewart who were themselves conservative poets concocted a ruse in an attempt to undermine the modernist literary movement espoused by the publisher Angry Penguins, a literary and art journal of the time established by Max Harris, the editor and the hoaxers’ target. They sent Harris a collection of 17 poems which were assembled in one afternoon by randomly lifting words and phrases from the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a Collected Shakespeare and a Dictionary of Quotations. Harris immediately published the poems in a special edition of Angry Penguins and was thereafter embroiled in Australia’s most celebrated literary hoax. As fascinating as the tale is, I became interested not by the controversy and repercussions of this event, but more so in the cut and paste methods adopted by the hoaxers as a means of creating a perceived unified work of art. As a composer, the challenge for me was to create a somewhat meaningful piece of music in a tongue-in-cheek style by incorporating a hodgepodge of pseudo pretentious waffle. This is the result.

AWAKENINGS for flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin and cello ─ composed by Antonio Tenace ©2006
Performed by Johanna Selleck (flute), Robert Schubert (clarinet), Isin Cakmakcioglu (violin), Chien-Hsiu Ong (violoncello), Michael Kieran Harvey (pianoforte) and Peter Neville (percussion) at the Melbourne Composers’ League ‘La Flor en la Colina: New Chamber Music from Australia and Chile’ Concert, BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 8 February 2009.

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Composer’s note: The title of this piece refers to a spiritual awakening of oneself whereby a new insight and understanding is achieved from a poignant moment of clarity. This composition represents a musical manifestation of this new awareness, and the levels of consciousness one must endure to attain a vision of inspiration. Once achieved, changes occur in patterns of thought, emotion and behaviour by which this sense of awakening propels the individual into deciding a course of action towards a singular goal. The essence of these cognitive states are embodied within the structure of this piece in that the four main sections depict the changing levels of consciousness associated to this new awareness.

YESTERYEARS for orchestra ─ composed by Antonio Tenace ©2006
Performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Brett Kelly, recorded at Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 21 November 2006.

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Composer’s note: The character and essence of this piece is intended to evoke my own personal feelings of nostalgia, and also to hint at mainstream popular styles and jazz idioms which reflect my past experiences as a performing musician. The infrastructure is therefore designed whereby the basic rhythmic and melodic cells that are initially presented, occur in various guises and provide the genesis for the entire work. These combined elements are the embodiment of the aforementioned sentiments, and represent tangible expressions of emotion associated with yesteryears.