Peggy Polias is a composer and music typesetter based in Sydney. Polias prepares scores, instrumental parts and other print music materials for some of Australia’s leading composers. In 2010 she graduated with a Master of Music (Composition), supervised by Professor Anne Boyd at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Polias has had works performed and workshopped by Kammerklang, Ku-Ring-Gai Philharmonic Orchestra, Halcyon, Chronology Arts, and at the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp and Canberra International Music Festival. She is an Associate Represented Artist with the Australian Music Centre, and a co-curator of Making Waves, alongside Melbourne-based composer Lisa Cheney.
In 2015 Polias was awarded the inaugural Peter Sculthorpe Music Fellowship, jointly granted by Arts NSW and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. This will support a recording project, the composition of a new work for The Nano Symphony, and professional development activities for the duration of 2016.
Polias explores the influences of Javanese Gamelan, minimalism, feminism, fractals and handicrafts in her music, and takes a keen interest in the possibilities for music in the online space.
Composer website: peggypolias.com
The Moon, for large chamber ensemble.
“This work explores the phases of the Moon in nine tiny movements, one for each of the cyclic phases and an added final movement:
- New Moon: when the stars shine bright
- Crescent Moon I: peeking through an eyelid
- First Quarter: when the skytide flows
- Gibbous Moon I: “coiling, emerging”
- Full Moon: when the eyes shine bright
- Gibbous Moon II: recoiling
- Third Quarter: when the skytide ebbs
- Crescent Moon II: eyes are drooping
- No Moon: eyes are closed
A nocturnal mood envelopes the work, but this is often combined with a playful childlike or naive character. Rather than shape a conflict-and-resolution musical path, ideas just start and stop in a riddle-ish or enigmatic fashion. The cyclic and circular nature of the month and Moon is a main inspiration here, with repetitive processes occurring in most of the movements. There is also very simple use of fractals, and much interlocking of parts, both of which are inspired structurally by the composer’s experience learning Javanese gamelan music.”
Featured in Playlist 1: Chamber Waves (31/1/15)
Phlogiston, for flute, clarinet and string quartet.
The title of this work refers to a 17th century scientific theory that was eventually disproven, which hypothesised that combustion was caused by an element called phlogiston. Despite being incorrect, there is something hopeful and poetic about the concept that reminds me of theories of aether. I have tried to capture a lightness, optimism, and a sense of space in the music.
The work was written in response to a video artwork by the same name, by artist Keith Chidzey, depicting a Ruben’s Tube aflame, in mirror image. This gives the appearance of a horizontal band above and below which small flames flicker. The music explores a mimicking of this visual motif, with flame-like “flickers” upwards and downwards growing into “flourishes” then eventually returning to this central unison.
Featured in the playlist: Small Ensemble Waves (1/3/2016)
Time II from Picnic at Hanging Rock Suite, for solo piano.
Time II is the fifth movement of twelve in the ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock Suite’ (2009) for piano. Inspired by ideas in Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel and the separately-published extra chapter, this movement explores a possible transient dimension of time in which events loop without logic or reason, seemingly beyond the conscious, corporeal realm.
Featured in Keyboard Waves November 2016
Electro Fractal Gamelan, for solo percussion.
Electro Fractal Gamelan was written for the Kammerklang development project Worship the Machine, which paired music with trapeze. Worship the Machine visited the idea of androids playing nostalgic music in some kind of wasteland. The electronic backing track to this work is based entirely on sine wave blips revolving around the harmonic series on A. There are 8 lines which do the same thing on a different pitch class and at a different speed, creating a fractal effect. The binary rhythms and continuity of the notes evokes the effect of kotekan in Balinese Gamelan, where two parts play interlocking patterns to produce a rapid constant line. After a while, one begins to hear phantom rhythms in the electronic track. I wrote the vibraphone part by selecting a few such rhythms and allowing the vibraphone player some choice in the pitches used to explore these rhythmic cells. Over the duration of the track reverb and overdrive are gradually added, and eventually, to complement this, the vibraphone player moves to a tremolo passage with some freedom of pitch as well as timing. While the backing track is fixed, each performance of this work on the vibraphone will be unique.
Featured in Place Waves, May 2018