Matthew Shlomowitz at the Adelaide Festival

Lecturer in Composition Matthew Shlomowitz reports back about a recent performance at the 2014 Adelaide Festival:

Last September I wrote a post for this blog about a sixteen-minute piece I was working on at the time for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, which you can read here. The work was performed on March 9 in the Adelaide Festival and I’m pleased to say it went well. The work features a solo part for drum kit, and my mate Eugene Ughetti played the part brilliantly. It’s a big and super tricky part and beyond simply nailing it in technical terms, he also played with real joy and verve.


This was my first professional experience working with an orchestra and I very much hope to have the opportunity again soon. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra did a great job and were lovely to work with, especially in negotiating the final five-minutes of the work where every member of the orchestra (including every string player) has a one-bar solo!

My piece was performed as part of the two-day Tectonics new music marathon, which was programmed by the conductor Ilan Volkov. Ilan (who has had principal conducting roles with the Boston, BBC Glasgow and Iceland Symphony Orchestras) was terrific to work with: I admired his ears, ideas and efficient method in getting the most out of the rehearsal time.

I enjoyed many other Tectonics performances, including a new collaborative work for violin and orchestra between composer Elena Kats Chernin and improviser John Rose. Xenakis and Scelsi were the featured composers (there was a super performance of Xenakis’s string orchestra piece Aroura) and the programming was distinguished by the way it brought together a variety of musical practices on the innovative end of music making, including improvisers and sound artists such as Oren Ambarchi, Carolyn Connors, Crys Cole and Takehisa Kosugi.

I also saw a bunch of other shows in the festival. My highlights were School Dance, a teenage theatre show put on by Windmill Theatre, and Morton Subotnick’s performance of his 1960s electronic classic Silver apples of the moon – such beautiful and warm electronic sounds and with such a sense of sonic depth perspective.

There were a number of reviews in the Australian press of the Tectonics new music marathon, and I have pasted the relevant mentions of my work below.

Listening Styles is an early highlight, a demented cross between big band swing and contemporary classical music which sees Australian percussionist Eugene Ughetti, clad in canary yellow while everyone else is in black, batter the living daylights out of a drum kit while crazy dissonance erupts all around him.

Alex Needham, The Guardian (Australia edition)

Conductor Ilan Volkov directed the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in the premier of Matthew Shlomowitz’s Listening Styles, an engaging mash-up of big band riffs and idioms translated into the orchestral domain, where they appear at once familiar and foreign. The piece is virtually a concert for drum kit, played superbly here by Eugene Ughetti. 

Stephen Whittington, The Adelaide Advertiser.

The second premiere, Listening Styles by Matthew Shlomowitz (attending), performed by the ASO and soloist Eugene Ughetti sounded like a fabulous melange in a dance hall, contrasted with stark silences. In this most dynamic of pieces, percussionists duelled and chatted with drums, as hints of swing and rumba peeked through. The seven-note theme was soloed (in various guises), by pretty much everyone, and will stay with me for a long time. Ughetti stood out, not just for his yellow shirt; his lightning fast cymbal stops and energy a highlight.

Gordon Forester, Glam Adelaide

Matthew Shlomowitz’s Listening Styles was equally memorable for its pesky exchanges between solo drum kit and individual members of the orchestra.

Graham Strahle, The Australian