Plush, Vincent

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Plush, Vincent

Plush, Vincent , remarkable Australian composer; b. Adelaide, April 18, 1950. He studied piano, organ, and voice before embarking on regular courses at the Univ. of Adelaide (B.M., 1971), where his principal instructors in composition were Andrew McCredie and Richard Meale. From 1973 to 1980 he taught at the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. In 1976 he founded the Seymour Group, an ensemble devoted to the performance of contemporary music. In 1981 he joined the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (A.B.C.) in Sydney. From his earliest independent activities as a lecturer, radio commentator, and conductor, Plush dedicated his efforts to the promotion of Australian music. Thanks to a generous Harkness fellowship, he was able to spend a couple of years at Yale Univ., conducting interviews with a number of American composers for its Oral History Project; also worked at the Univ. of Minn. (1981), and participated in an Australian Arts Festival in Minneapolis (1982). He then spent a year at the Center for Music Experiment and the Computer Music Facility at the Univ. of Calif, at San Diego. Returning to Australia in 1983, he became composer-in-residence for the A.B.C., where he inaugurated a series of radio broadcasts pointedly entitled “Mainstreet U.S.A.,” dedicated to new American music. A firm believer in the authentic quality of Australian folk music, he organized in Sydney the whimsically named ensemble Magpipe Musicians, which gave performances of native music in schools and art galleries, on the radio, in the concert hall, at country festivals, citizenship ceremonies, railway openings, and suchlike events, public and private. Their programs were deliberately explorative, aggressive, and exhortatory, propagandistic of new ideas, often with a decided revolutionary trend. The titles of Plush’s own works often pay tribute to revolutionary or heroic events, e.g., On Shooting StarsHomage to Victor Jara (a Chilean folksinger murdered by the fascistic Chilean police), Bakery Hill Rising (memorializing the suppression of the rebellion of Australian gold miners in 1854), Gallinoli Sunrise (commemorating the sacrificial attempt at capturing the Gallipoli Straits in World War I, during which thousands of Australians perished), and The Ludlow Lullabies (recalling the brutal attack on striking coal miners in the region of Ludlow, Colo., in 1914). The musical setting of each of these works varies from astutely homophonic to acutely polyphonic, according to the requirements of the subject.


DRAMATIC : Australian Folksongs, musical theater piece for Baritone and Ensemble (Sydney, July 19, 1977); The Maitland and Morpeth String Quartet for Narrator and String Quartet (Sydney, April 1, 1979; rev. 1985); Facing the Danger for Narrator and Instruments, after the poem Say No by Barbara Berman (1982; Las Vegas, Jan. 18, 1983); Grody to the Max for “Val”-(i.e. San Fernando “Valley Girl”) speaker and Trumpeter (1983); The Wakefield Chronicles, pageant for Narrator, Solo Trumpet and Trombone, and Ensemble, after Edward Gibbon Wakefield (Adelaide, March 5, 1986); The Muse of Fire for Narrator, Baritone, Trumpet, Flute, Piano, Chorus, 2 Brass Bands, Children’s Chorus, and Organ, after Andrew Torning (1986–87). ORCH.: Pacifica (1986; rev. 1987; Aspen, July 10, 1988); Concord/Eendracht (Utrecht, May 18, 1990); Pilbara for Strings (1991). Brass Band : The Wakefield Chorales (1986); March of the Dalmatians (1987). CHAMBER : Aurores for Horn, Piano, and Ensemble (from O Paraguay!; Kensington, New South Wales, July 31, 1979); Bakery Hill Rising for Solo Horn and 8 Other Horns (1980; Ballarat, Victoria, Feb. 14, 1981); On Shooting StarsHomage to Victor Jam for Ensemble (Sydney, Sept. 11, 1981); FireRaisers, “Concertino in the Style of a Vaudeville Entertainment” for Trumpet and Ensemble (Brisbane, Queensland, Sept. 30, 1984); Gallipoli Sunrise for Tenor Trombone and 7 Other Trombones (1984); Helices for Percussion Quartet (from The Wakefield Chronicles; 1985); The Wakefield Convocation for Brass Quintet (1985); The Wakefield Invocation for Trumpet and Organ (1986); The Ludlow Lullabies for Violin and Piano (Colorado Springs, Oct. 19, 1989); SkyFire for 10 Pianos and Tape (Colorado Springs, Nov. 19, 1989); Aunt Kelly’s Book of Tangos for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1990); Florilegium I, II, and III (Sydney, Sept. 28, 1990); Los Dios de Los Muertos for Percussion Quartet (1990); The Love-Songs of Herbert Hoover for Horn Trio (1991); also pieces for Solo Instruments, including Franz Liszt Sleeps Alone, piano nocturne (1985; Budapest, March 12, 1986) and Encompassings for Organ (Canberra, March 16, 1975). TAPE : Estuary (1978); Stevie Wonder’s Music for Flute and Tape (Sydney, Nov. 4, 1979); All Ears (1985); Metropolis: Sydney (WDR, Cologne, Nov. 14, 1988). VOCAL : Magnificat for Soprano, Flute, and 3 Vocal Quartets (1970; Sydney, Sept. 8, 1976); 3 Carols for Soprano, Contralto, and Children’s Chorus (1978, 1979, 1982); The Hymn of the Winstanly Levellers for Speaking/Singing Chorus (Sydney, May 23, 1981); Ode to Knocks for Mixed Voices and Instruments (Knox, Victoria, Sept. 6, 1981); Letters from the Antipodes: 6 English Reflections on Colonial Australia for Small Chorus (1984; Sydney, July 9, 1989); Letters from the Antipodes: 6 English Reflections on Colonial Australia for Small Chorus (1984; Sydney, July 9, 1989); All Ears, radiophonie composition for Voices (Radio 2MBS-FM, Sydney, March 16, 1985); The Muse of Fire, pageant for Voices and Instruments (Penrith, New South Wales, Oct. 17, 1987); Cornell Ceremonial Music for Brass Instruments and Chorus (Winter Park, Fla., Nov. 10, 1988); Andrew Torning’s March to Victory for Small Chorus and Piano (1989); The Arraignment of Henry Lawson for Voices and Instruments (1991); songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire