Charlie Wells [Age 15, SA]

Composition: Mars Awakens

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

Music has been a significant part of my life for as long as I can remember. Since a very early age, I have been amazed and intrigued by all the sounds and possibilities of music. When I was about four or five years old, I started learning the piano, and today I continue to play piano as well as the trombone, pipe organ, and singing.

In 2013, I moved to St Peter’s College, where I first found my talent as a singer and started singing in the choir at St Peter’s Cathedral in North Adelaide. From there, I was given the opportunity to sing solo with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra on two occasions: in 2015 for the Adelaide Festival for ‘Danny Elfman’s music from the films of Tim Burton’, and in 2018 for the ASO’s concert “Freedom and Joy” in Bernstein’s ‘Chichester Psalms’. With the choir I also went on two international tours in 2014 and 2019 (to the UK/France and the UK respectively). I currently sing in multiple choirs at school, and last year was awarded “most promising vocalist” at the music festival Generations in Jazz as part of the Small Jazz Vocal ensemble.

At school, I play lead trombone for Big Band 1, Senior Concert Band and Orchestra. Last July, I went on the school music tour to Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and many cities in Italy, where I played piano and trombone in the Jazz band and sang in the choir and small vocal group. This year, I played trombone in the Adelaide Fringe as part of the 60Four’s backup band.

Composition Inspiration.

There is nothing in particular that my fanfare “Mars Awakens” draws inspiration from (any similarity to Holst’s ‘Mars’ from The Planets is coincidental; the fanfare was named after its completion). It is primarily built around the timpani part. However, my compositional style has been influenced by many different styles and genres of music.

The overall sound/timbre of the fanfare resembles film/video game music, in fact my classmates often commented that it sounds like it should have been in a video game while I was writing it. Films and video games rely on the music to captivate the audience, just as a fanfare does. The 6/8 time feel as well as the full orchestration creates a similar energy to the themes from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ or ‘Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’.

Although not immediately noticeable in my composition, I have been influenced by jazz, Latin and 20th century orchestral music. This is most prevalent in the rhythms and articulations. My fanfare is highly syncopated and varies between a duple (6/8) and triple (3/4) feel, a common device used in the music of 20th century composers such as Leonard Bernstein and in many Latin style jazz pieces. The articulated off-beats are something commonly found in Jazz music, and much of the brass parts bare resemblance to Big Band music.