Paul Clift was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1978. After completing his undergraduate studies in composition in Melbourne, notably with Dr. Thomas Reiner, Paul moved abroad: he continued his studies in Paris with Jean-Luc Hervé & Philippe Leroux, and in London at King’s College, where he received his M.Mus under the tutelage of Robert Keeley & George Benjamin. He is currently undertaking the second year of the New Music Technology & Composition Cursus with Yann Maresz at the IRCAM in Paris. Paul has also participated in Royaumont Voix Nouvelles, Centre Acanthes & Domaine Forget, allowing him further study with composers such as George Aperghis, Brian Ferneyhough, Michaël Levinas, Olga Neuwirth & Gerard Pesson.
Paul is currently working in collaboration with French choreographer Alban Richard on a new piece for five musicians & dance, which will be premiered at the 104 (Paris) in June 2009 by Ensemble l’Instant Donné & Laurie Giordano, as part of the Agora Festival.
Paul’s works have been performed in many countries throughout the world by renowned ensembles such as Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (Quebec), Ensemble Cairn, L’Itinéraire, l’Instant Donné & l’Orchestre Nationale de Lorraine (France), Ensemble Contrechamps (Switzerland), Lontano Ensemble (U.K) & Klangforum Wien (Austria). In 2007 Paul received funding from the Australian Council for the Arts.
In 2006 he co-founded, alongside Columbian composer Juan Camillo Hernandez Sanchez & American composer Christopher Trapani, the Paris-based composition collective 3 Hémisphères, which is dedicated to the performance and diffusion of young non-European composers in France. Ever frustrated with the limited opportunities for composers in Australia, Paul plans to institute a Summer new-music festival in south-eastern Australia, based on European & North American models.www.paulclift.net
Action Painting, for piano solo
Anyone who has improvised at the piano would understand that the experience is in many ways similar to that of a painter approaching a blank canvas; whilst I personally caution attempts at musical representations of objects which are not dependant on the flow of time in order to exist (such as paintings, sculpture & architecture), the act itself of applying paint to a canvas is, in my opinion, a fine subject to be explored musically. Nowhere is this concept so pertinent as in the work of the abstract expressionists; applying paint in broad, flowing movements or abrupt flicking, the gradual accumulation of layers to create rich and complex textures, and the occasional emergence of recognisable forms which have unwittingly floated to the surface from the artist’s unconscious… the relationship between the keys of a piano and an improvising musician shares many of these qualities: where realism can surface spontaneously in visual arts, fragments of recognisable quasi- melodies or harmonic progressions might appear in improvising at the piano.
The composition of this work is a concentrated exercise in reproducing these notions; though its own composition was far from improvisatory, it was nonetheless marked by a preoccupation with the parallels between spontaneous application of paint to a canvas and diverse pianistic gestures. The sensation of having a clearly-defined workspace, with all necessary tools within reach, and the facility to produce traits and gestures which in turn influence those gestures that proceed them is something inherent to both art forms.
If one considers a view upon a railway track: a representation of such an image might seem banal, but a railway track in the abrupt and ephemeral peace which occurs in the moments after a clattering locomotive speeds by is another matter entirely… just as with the creative process, the peace and tranquillity which can only be attained by contrasting hectic, overwhelming activity