Our Rising Star Young Composer-in-Residence programme gives young composers the chance to hone their craft by working closely with the APO. We spoke to our Rising Star for 2018, Kirsten Strom, about her journey so far.
When did you know that you had a talent for writing music?
Well, talent is a bit of a funny word, but I guess I’ve been writing music all my life. Apparently I came up with my first tune when I was a baby! I grew up in a musical household, where everyone wrote songs, so I did too. But I always had an orchestra playing in my head, so it just became a quest to write it down. The actual notating came later. I’ve had wonderful people to work with both through school and university, who helped me get thoughts to paper, and beyond!
Do you have any highlights from your time working with APO so far?
I just love the APO. I know it sounds cheesy, but I do! Just their input to the community is amazing. And the players I’ve worked with have been so warm and helpful. A highlight was having my piece ‘Ice’ played by the orchestra last year, and working with the Antipodes Percussion Project earlier this year. They performed my piece Time is Money for coins, as part of their Suitcase Percussion Project (using anything that ts inside a suitcase). It was a tad theatrical, and they were so enthusiastic, inhabiting their roles and making it their own. It’s now part of their repertoire for performing in schools, which is fantastic. I love seeing performers take my piece and put something of themselves into it, really bringing it to life.
As our APO Rising Star Composer in residence, what sort of things lie ahead of you for 2018?
Well, I have to write three pieces as part of the Connecting programme. One is for the Summer School, where I’ll be writing for students aged 10 to 16, supplemented by APO players, which is an interesting mix. Then there’s a piece for the full APO orchestra, which will be great. The third piece is for Koru Quintet, for their APOPS programme in schools.
Where to from here?
Well, I would love to be a professional composer, as long as the opportunities keep coming! I do a bit of conducting in schools as well. I love working with the students, seeing their output transform over time – it’s very rewarding. I often cheekily say conductors get the best deal – we get to shape the expression of a piece, and in many ways composing and conducting go hand in hand. So yes, I just love music, and I don’t think I could ever stop composing. It’s in my veins.