Visiting Composer Member Emili Rackemann Talks About the Contemporary Music Scene in Australia

ACM composer member and pianist Emili Rackemann recently talked to Andrew Tham about the contemporary music situation in Australia.  She’ll be performing at our school at 1758 W. Wilson on Sunday, November 3rd at 3:00 PM.


“As a composer and pianist here in Australia, contemporary classical music has, to some extent, remained secure, controlled and bound to black formal attire and large biographies, rather than an appreciation of one’s unique journey, which may not always include elaborate reviews praised by critics. Slowly, I believe the paradigms of how classical contemporary music is perceived in Australia, is diminishing, and new ways of marketing contemporary music are being explored.

Now, artists of diverse backgrounds with less mainstream education have an opportunity to share their creativity, without heavy scrutiny regarding technical ability as a performer, focusing instead on the art form of composing itself.

Having been raised on a remote cattle property in rural Central Australia, then later moving to the city of Melbourne, Victoria, my personal journey as a composer has always been influenced by story-telling and imagination.

Experiencing the extreme diversities of Australian outback, and more recently, metropolitan culture, has allowed me to step aside from what generally constitutes a classical musician.

I have always felt somewhat removed from the many surrounding pockets of contemporary music culture, instead, simply enjoying the creative process of composing, focusing on removing the conditioning of older generations by rehashing, reforming and refreshing the sound of classical piano composition.

My personal goals as a composer are not only to bridge the gap between the past perception of classical performance and the current changing paradigms, but also to create a landscape of sound, based on true stories, past realities and imagination, allowing the audience to embrace a connection to themselves, their personal thoughts and memories. Australia is certainly an extremely diverse and open- minded music culture, full of opportunity to create a new wave of contemporary classical music, with the ongoing support of annual funding and active participation within non-profit organizations.

Living in Melbourne and Regional Victoria over the past seven years, has offered an array of opportunities, with increased funding towards contemporary music from the Federal Government. With supportive organizations such as Arts Victoria, Australian Arts Council, PPCA, APRA and AMCOS, contemporary artists have a store of funding opportunities that are increasingly on offer for project development.

In May 2012, Australian Arts Minister, Simon Crean, boosted funding towards contemporary music by $750,000 within twelve months, allowing grant funding to increase and non-profit organizations to implement further strategies regarding the movement of contemporary music development nationally.

From a personal perspective as a composer and pianist, contemporary classical music in Australia is defined by high levels of institutional support and professionalization, mostly occurring among local scenes, filling small community halls, performing arts centers and recital centers. However, in order to fill large concert halls with pro-active enthusiasm from the general public, I believe there is still a silent plea for something new and theatrical, fresh but safe, with all the familiar classical elements.”