In this series, we present our new composers. We are proud to introduce Micah Thompson.
Hello!! I am Micah Thompson and I’m a young Wellington composer/musician and devotee of English literature. I was born in Hawkes Bay but lived around the Waikato and was lucky enough to spend some time living in Great Barrier Island (which I would argue is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand). I am in the later part of a degree in English Literature and Composition and also studied violin for two years at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music.
I think my earliest memory of classical music that stands out the most is when my parents brought some classical CD’s from the Warehouse home (probably for less than $2.50). The CD’s were a Yehudi Menuhin recording of the Bach Brandenburg concerti, and a recording of Vivaldi’s L’estro Armonico (I know it was these two specifically because I still have the CD’s today in my memory box). This music must have made a lasting impression on me as I still listen to Bach most days and have been obsessed with classical music ever since.
I don’t think I have a particular aesthetic direction – a sentiment I think is quite familiar for my generation. When I compose I work very closely musicians and their instruments, I read quite a lot, and I still do counterpoint exercises. I think this probably sheds more light on my work.
Here is a quartet I wrote:
I love this piece because, despite its rough edges, I think it bridges my interest in extremely reduced pallets of sounds that I discover from working closely with friends, and a melodic/lyrical style that has slowly emerged over time.
Here is a short piano piece that is more or less a homage to the piano of Jenny McLeod:
I discovered so much freedom in McLeod’s Tone Clock pieces. I love the unbelievable craft and architecture of her music but mostly how this is coupled with a lyricism and expressive poignancy. Not just with this piece but most of my work has been, in some way, influenced by her work.
I have recently finished writing a Bass Flute concerto for Kim Tan from the absolutely fabulous Melbourne ensemble Forest Collective (check them out!). I was extremely lucky to have been invited to be their 2020 Composer in Residence by the wonderful conductor Evan Lawson, who conducted a piece of mine last year.
Anyone who knows me well enough will know I have an ongoing obsession with the flute and particularly its sibling the bass flute so this was the opportunity of a lifetime without being too hyperbolic. Throughout my study at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music I have been lucky enough to work closely with the fantastic flutist/friend Samantha McSweeney on a particular palate of trills and double sounds for the flute which I have been obsessed with for the last two years.
This piece was a wonderful opportunity to culminate this research/collaboration in large a piece. The premiere was set to be around August but I’m weary of this with the ongoing pandemic. My fingers are crossed as the manuscript woefully sits on my bed…
At the moment I’m working on a large orchestral piece, which like the flute, has occupied my writing for the last two years (as well as occupying a large space of my wall and room which is currently covered in manuscript much to the annoyance of my partner). I am however slowly running out of manuscript which is a growing concern with the lock-down but hopefully, I can make it to the final barline with the last three empty manuscript pages I have left…
The piece has been a strange to-and-fro between my ongoing close research into instruments and pallets of sound but also me trying to reconcile the weight of the orchestral literature, which I have loved for so long. I think this is the main difficulty of writing for me – reconciling the histories of instruments with my own relationship with them.
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