Grooves Unspoken

Yvette Audain is a composer and musician who’s performing a show, Grooves Unspoken, at the Auckla


Yvette Audain is a composer and musician who’s performing a show, Grooves Unspoken, at the Auckland Fringe. In the classical genre, Yvette has played clarinet for New Zealand Opera, Bach Musica and Waitakere City Orchestra, and is an associate saxophonist with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO).

Yvette Audain is a composer and musician who’s performing a show, Grooves Unspoken, at the Auckland Fringe. In the classical genre, Yvette has played clarinet for New Zealand Opera, Bach Musica and Waitakere City Orchestra, and is an associate saxophonist with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO).

As a composer, she keeps busy with commissions for film, orchestras (among them the APO) and musical groups. And as a performer, she gigs regularly with The Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band, Brett’s New Internationals, Doris and The Committee, among others.

Renee Liang spoke to Yvette about her latest set of work.

What drew you to music as a career?

I think it’s more of a case of ‘what didn’t?’, haha… basically I don’t think I was ever meant to do anything else, and we can’t really help how we’re made. Everyone told me when I was growing up “oh you won’t be able to make much money” and all that, but I really couldn’t help but gravitate towards music regardless. It’s not even just a case of ‘do what you love’, it’s more like a compulsion.

What was your inspiration for this set of work?

Righty, let’s go through the programme in order. Grooves Unspoken was something of a return (although not a deliberate, planned one) to early influences, in this case Dave Brubeck’s Time Out album. Hazine (Treasure) was sparked by my ever-interest in music of various ethnicities, plus a desire at that time to explore somewhat darker and less common modalities on my instrument than I had explored previously. Meditations Upon Nasreddin Hoca was borne out of a request from one of my schools, to write a companion piece for Hazine (read: similar in tonality and influence, but longer and with a piano accompaniment!) so that both pieces could be played by an advanced student of mine for assessment under the Cambridge examination structure.

The title is inspired by a quote from the work of Middle Eastern fabler Nasreddin Hoca. Hold Fast is one of my oldest pieces and was inspired by pipe band music, being that the title is the motto of my grandmother’s Scottish clan, the MacLeods. An Irksome Vengeance displays yet more eclectic influence, as it is inspired by the constant pulse and drive of hip-hop, mainly through my involvement in the Auckland Philharmonia’s Remix the Orchestra programme. Its title is actually part of a lyric from the song It’s a Shame by Monie Love! And finally there are my 2 sax quartets, funny little things that they are… bulletproof petals is a temperamental beast, sparked by a feeling I once had that I might possibly be the world’s last remaining ‘uber-sensitive musician’ and that my metaphorical skin was FAR too thin compared to that of most people, haha.

Then we finish with my most recently-completed work, that has not yet been performed: A Charleston Kick With Steel Caps, which I guess programmatically actually comes from a similar place to bulletproof petals, but I’ve had the title in my bank of ‘possible titles’ for years now and I’m really glad to have finally used it. Stylistically it owes a lot to my love for, and involvement in, 1920s early jazz, although my tonality here is at times so twisted that the ‘20s influence is really ‘through a glass darkly’! I think overall, and I could be wrong, the first half will probably come across as more ‘accessible’ than the second somehow.

What drew you to Moroccan music?

I think it all began years ago when I heard the music of Australian band Cantigas, and UK outfit The Dufay Collective, who had included in their repertoire some ancient tunes from the one-time ‘silk road’ route, which had included Northern Africa. Whichever way you look at it, I have ALWAYS had a thing for medieval dance music, and I can’t see that going away any time soon. I also wanted to visit Morocco because I speak a bit of French (although NOWHERE near to the standard I’d like!).

You’re a frequent collaborator with other musicians, artists and writers. Why do you collaborate, and what are some of your favourite projects?

I love being involved in bands and smaller ensembles, and a great part of the satisfaction here for me is the social side of it, as well as getting to involve myself in a variety of genres. In terms of other artists, of course the collaboration that immediately springs to mind here is the one I’ve recently been involved in with poet Olivia Macassey and actor Stuart Devenie, as part of an APO Composers’ Workshop (performance: May 11). Since the completion of my work Eulogy, Olivia (who I have still yet to meet and talk to in person) has actually sent me other work of hers that has resonated with me, and I will NEVER forget the day Stuart came to my house to go over the narrator’s part, listened again to the recording and gave me some scarily profound insights into my own work that even I myself didn’t know were there. It can be a highly illuminating experience exposing your work to artists from other disciplines.

Where are you aiming to go in the next ten years?

This is a tricky one, seeing as the question is more general than compartmentalised, ie. it’s not split into what I call the three major parts of my life: work, life and career. I think it’s time someone raised the issue of needing to find a ‘work-life-career’ balance – I mean, we’ve long known the notion of ‘work-life balance’, but for some people (I think particularly those involved in creative pursuits), ‘work’ and ‘career’ don’t necessarily always directly tie in. For example, you may have a lucky abundance of paid employment, which may in some way be related to your long-term ‘career’ interest and in which you may also find great joy, but at the same time you’re probably also working hard-out, and often for little or no pay, at stuff that is directly related to your long-term career advancement (for me it’s the composing, arranging and performing). So when you’re done with that, where is the time for the gym, or for a movie with a friend?!

For me I think the next ten (or however many) years need to be focused on gaining a balance. I’m dimly beginning to realise that although I’ll always be driven in the advancement of my creative growth and career, and although of course we will always need money, health (both physical and emotional) is important too. In fact if you don’t have it, you can’t get on with the aforementioned work and career in the first place.

What are you working on next?

I think a new orchestral epic needs to be written, and I’d love a symphonic rock project to come along, but hot off the press is the suggestion of a little vignette for flute, having had a competent flute student from one of my schools come up to me the other day and shyly go “um, you know how you’re a composer? Weeeell, do you think you’ll have time to write me a piece to play in the NZ Woodwind Competitions?”. So again, another ‘commission’ for free, haha, but when someone (who is also my former recorder student from years ago) comes up to you like that… plus I suspect there’s another pre-dreamed-up title waiting in the wings, so I must get on and find a use for it somehow! Every new piece keeps the compositional ‘wheels’ oiled, as it were.

Sun 6 March, St Lukes Church, 2pm

Yvette Audain presents this exciting one-off programme of her own music in a variety of saxophonistic and clarinetistic styles.

Written by

Renee Liang

28 Feb 2011

Renee is a writer who is exploring many ways of telling stories, including plays, short stories, poetry (which she also performs), and cross-genre collaborations with composers, musicians, sculptors and filmmakers.

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