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Featured Composer: Jessop Maticevski-Shumack

Image credit: Belinda Strodder

Image credit: Belinda Strodder

Jessop Maticevski Shumack was born in 1997. He has studied classical guitar with Dan McKay and composition with Anthony Lyons at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS) and is currently a student at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne.

Since beginning his compositional endeavours in 2007, he has composed for a wide variety of musicians and ensembles, received performances around Melbourne and Victoria and has spoken about his music on ABC Radio. 

In 2009 Jessop was the only primary school student selected for a composition workshop hosted by 3MBS. From 2010 to 2014 he has also participated in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Sinfonietta Composition Workshop where his music was rehearsed and performed under the direction of Richard Gill. In 2012 he was the winner of Open Junior section of the Music Teachers’ Association of Queensland Composers Competition, including the June Fox patron award for best ensemble composition. In the same year he received first place in the VCASS Composition Competition. He was also the recipient of the Ian Harrison Composer’s Award in his final year there in 2015. 

In 2013 he was invited to compose a new work for guitar duo for the debut album of the young, award winning guitarists Ziggy and Miles Johnston. It has received many subsequent performances and radio broadcasts, including a performance by him and Miles Johnston in 2015 as part of the VCE Season of Excellence. He was commissioned by VCASS for a work featuring guitars and orchestra for the music students to perform in their 2015 concerts at the Castlemaine Town Hall and the Melbourne Recital Centre. A work for voice and ensemble conducted by Jessop was performed at the Melbourne Recital Centre in 2016 following his selection for the Margaret Schofield Composition Scholarship.

Jessop Maticevski-Shumack was the 2017 recipient of the New Music Network LAB Plexus Commission, and his new work Evolve was premiered in PLEXUS: Brunswick Beethoven Festival on 9 February 2017 at Brunswick Uniting Church.

Evolve   (2017)

This new work was commissioned through New Music Network’s national mentoring program LAB, a program designed to create connections between emerging and established new music artists to support creative action. 

The composer writes: “Evolve was the product of a period of creative frenzy in the early weeks of 2017 that I could not really anticipate until the very end of December, and I am forever grateful to Stefan, Monica, Philip and the New Music Network for this opportunity. 

“One of the most fascinating things about music is its inherent meaninglessness but its power to evoke different responses in different people, and how we ascribe meaning to the music we hear. Part of my job when it comes to composing a piece of music is to devise a title, a word or phrase which will allude to a meaning that ultimately depends on the perspective that one wishes to take. 

With a title such as ‘Evolve’ come various connotations, such as whether it alludes to the changes in heritable traits across time in all forms of life, or perhaps a reference to last year’s Pokémon GO fad (oh what fun it was to see your first Doduo evolve into a Dodrio!). I think the word ‘Evolve’ sums up my composition process quite nicely when attached to the word ‘ideas’ or even the phrase ‘thematic material.’ Upon completion of a work it is always extremely satisfying to see how far my ideas had changed and evolved and also to see which ideas I had that didn’t survive, in an almost Darwinian sense. That being said, revisions are inevitable to further refine this ‘completed’ work—its current state is really just another step in the evolutionary journey. 

As for the music itself: over the course of about seven minutes a single pitch gradually grows more complex through timbre and articulation. It reaches a Cambrian explosion of rhythm and melody, which begins a new series of musical ideas. The music is always derived in some way to what has been heard before, but always pushing ahead to the next evolution of musical material. It is not until the last few moments of the piece when we hear a clear reference to the opening again; a reminder that the bulk of the music all grew from a common ancestor: the primordial pitch of A flat.”