Listen to Charlie’s original composition submitted with his entry.

Charlie Wells [Age 16, SA]

Composition: The Joy of the Night

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the endless sounds and possibilities of music: one of my earliest memories is of my parents giving me a little ukulele and me toddling down the hallway proclaiming, “it’s a guitar!” at the top of my tiny, two-year-old lungs. I started learning the piano at the age of about four or five, and since then, the piano has been like twin brother: we will get up to all sorts of mischief together, but now and then I’ll want to punch it in the face.

In 2013, I moved to St Peter’s College, where I was exposed to a multitude of opportunities. It was there that I took up the trombone in 2014, and the pipe organ in 2018, and started singing in the Choir at St Peters Cathedral in North Adelaide as a boy soprano. From there I was given the opportunity to sing solo in the Adelaide Festival in 2015 for Tim Burton’s Music from the Films of Danny Elfman, and 2018 for the ASO’s concert Freedom and Joy in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. With the choir I travelled to the UK and France for two tours in 2014/15 and 2019/20. The highlight of my musical ‘career’ was when I won an award at Generations in Jazz 2019 for the Most Promising Vocalist.

I play trombone in JazzSA’s Superband 1 and my school’s ensembles, and I am working towards my Certificate of Performance in Piano and Licentiate Diploma in pipe organ (I’m still a fair way off from the latter). I compose for joy and as an insomnia cure.

Composition Inspiration

My composition The Joy of the Night is my attempt at capturing the energy and beauty of a clear, summer night. It was written entirely at night: I was struggling to sleep one night in the summer holidays, so I did whatever any sane person would do and write a fanfare. By 4am, I had made this.

There are a number of inspirations for my piece. First and foremost, the night itself. It was around Christmastime when I wrote this piece, and there are multiple references to that ‘Joyful Night’ in the music. For example, the jingling glockenspiel bells and more explicitly, the first three notes of the carol ‘O come all ye Faithful’ in the horn line at the beginning and end of the piece.

Two composers who inspired my piece are Leonard Bernstein and Christopher Tin. My use of percussion, and sudden changes of pulse and meter share similarities with Bernstein’s writing. He is someone who immediately comes to mind when I think of bright, bold, and punchy music. Christopher Tin is an American composer of video game music (most famously the Civilisation series), and two of his works, Baba Yetu and Sogno di Volare have particularly captivated me.