Featured Composer: Samantha Wolf
Melbourne-based composer and pun enthusiast Samantha Wolf is quickly gaining recognition as one of Australia’s most distinctive young voices. A graduate of the Queensland and Melbourne Conservatoriums, and the recipient of numerous awards, her music has been described as ‘haunting’ (XS Entertainment), ‘enigmatic’ (Blue Curtains) and ‘affecting’ (Partial Durations). Her diverse practice encompasses solo, chamber, choral, band and orchestral works, interdisciplinary collaborations, and electroacoustic and fixed media works that incorporate noise, speech, and found sounds.
For Samantha, music is a way of understanding and interacting with the world around her. As such, her music is deeply reflective of its time and place, and draws inspiration from a wide array of sources, including philosophy, scientific and physical phenomena, and environmental and social justice issues. Her work inhabits the space in between classical, contemporary, acoustic and electroacoustic worlds, while maintaining its grounding in the notated tradition. She has a particular fondness for weird and wonderful instruments, such as the Uilleann Pipes (Splinter), and common classical instruments used in unusual ways, such as Prepared Harp (Scintillation) and bowed Electric Guitar (at the mercy of the elements). Often, her pieces are born out of close collaboration with performers, most notably a year-long interdisciplinary collaboration with MakeShift Dance Collective and Kupka’s Piano which culminated in The Binds That Tie Us, earning great reviews at its premiere at the Judith Wright Centre in 2015.
Her ongoing interest in electroacoustic and fixed media works has generated a flurry of activity in this area. Most prominently, her soundwalk The More I Think About It, The Bigger It Gets has been performed around Australia and is included in the University of Melbourne’s Noise & Sound Art curriculum. A rallying cry to eliminate violence against women and sexual assault, Samantha presented this work, along with four new works she commissioned from young Australian female composers, at This Will Be Our Reply, a fundraising concert for the Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre’s frontline services. The More I Think… was subsequently presented at the Musicological Society of Australia’s 2016 National Conference, and featured in Dr. Linda Kouvaras’ chapter in Diversity in Australia’s Music: Themes Past, Present, and for the Future, published by Cambridge Scholars in 2018.
Recent interests include exploring found sounds, particularly from objects that have been discarded, damaged or unused. Want Not, commissioned by Rubiks Collective for the inaugural Pythia Prize, utilises these elements most extensively, constructed from a sound palette including kitchen tiles, gum packets, fruit bowls, plastic forks, old music boxes, empty wine bottles and bulldog clips, alongside the core instrumentation of Piccolo, Piano/Toy Piano, Percussion and Cello. Found sounds will be further explored in Beg, Borrow, Steel, an upcoming work for Ensemble Offspring’s Hatched Academy.
Samantha has worked with many of Australia’s leading new music ensembles, including the Melbourne and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, The Song Company, Ensemble Liaison, the Horsley Williams Duo, Rubiks Collective, and Kupka’s Piano, with whom she is an Associate Artist. Her music has been performed around Australia and internationally, including at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music (Germany), soundSCAPE Festival (Italy), Impuls Academy (Austria), Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (USA), and local staples Tilde New Music Festival, 2high Festival, and the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp. Her music has been broadcast on ABC Classic FM, 3MBS, PBS and 4MBS, and featured by Making Waves, Partial Durations, Collective Soundwaves, and ABC’s New Waves podcast. An avid writer, Samantha’s articles have been published by Resonate, CutCommon and Rehearsal Magazine. When not composing or attending as many concerts as she can, Samantha can be found jogging along the Merri Creek trail, or curled up with a good book with her partner Kieran and tabby cat Claude Depussy.
Samantha is represented by the Australian Music Centre.