Ezra Hersch [Age 14, NSW]

Composition: Beginnings Echo

My name is Ezra Hersch. My passion for music encompasses the piano, clarinet, voice, music theory and composition. I began my music education when I was two-years-old at Australian Music Schools, where I met my first piano teacher, Chiara Pascuzzo, whose infectious enthusiasm continues to inspire my love for piano and music. I am now 14 and attend Emanuel School (Sydney) on a music scholarship. I participate in the school stage band, choirs, and recently played Rapunzel’s Prince in the school’s production of Into The Woods.

For three years running I participated in the Bondi Wave Music programme, mentored by Lindy Morrison. In this programme we composed original rock songs and performed them at the annual Carols by the Sea concert.

I am currently preparing for my Grade 8 examination in piano, my Grade 6 examination in clarinet (with Mark Walton), and my Grade 5 examination in music theory. I also have regular composition and piano lessons with Sally Whitwell, who is an inspiration as a teacher, performer and composer, and whose encouragement has enabled me to continually broaden my musical horizons.

My passion for singing has developed since I was six years old when I joined the Sydney Children’s Choir. SCC has given me an immense appreciation for choral music, and more than anything else has introduced me to the world of Australian choral composition. We have worked with composers such as Dan Walker, Paul Jarman, Paul Stanhope, Elena Kats-Chernin and many others. A few of the highlights for me have been working with the SSO in performances of Berlioz and Mahler at the Sydney Opera House, under the baton of Charles Dutoit and David Robertson.

Composition Inspiration

At the time of writing this piece, I was listening to a lot of Mahler (whose symphonies have many fanfare-like moments), and I was definitely inspired by his grand orchestrations creating thick textures.

In preparation for writing my fanfare, Beginnings Echo, I reflected on the elements that I thought a fanfare should contain, the most important being its ability to grab people’s attention. It needed to have a “Hey, look at me” quality. For me, the most effective way of achieving this was to create a sense of rhythmic irregularity to create a measure of discomfort in the listeners and to keep their attention. So initially I planned to have changes in time signature (like every Dan Walker piece ever!) from 7/8 to 4/4. But in the end I decided on achieving the same attention grabbing effect by keeping the 7/8-time signature throughout, but changing the quaver grouping between 3,2,2 and 2,2,3.

So it all started with a single irregular rhythmic pattern that I repeated throughout the entire piece. Another important element I thought about was that the piece needed a melodic figure that people would remember and hold onto. It is difficult to create this in such a short piece, which is why I chose repetition of an ascending melodic figure (inspired by my love of Philip Glass, who extensively uses repetitive structures).