Listen to Jasmine’s original composition submitted with her entry.

Jasmine Lai (Age 16, Vic)

TO COUNTRY: Wilderness

Jasmine is not only a young composer but also a pianist and percussionist. She is currently a year 10 student in Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS). She is studying composition from Tony Gould, piano from Glenn Riddle, and percussion from Sergei Golovko.

She started learning piano at the age of 4.  She was awarded Licentiate Diploma in Music performance (Piano) from Australian Music Examinations Board (LMusA Piano) in 2022, first place winners in Music Society Victoria (MSV) Piano Competition (DES Stevenson Award for 12 years and under in 2016 and EDA Schurmann Memorial Award for 15 years and under in 2020), winners of inaugural Sydney Eisteddfod Junior Pianoforte Scholarship and By the Bay Eisteddfod Margaret Green Junior Pianoforte Scholarship in 2021. Recently she is one of recipients of MSV Chamber Music Award with her “Bingus Trio”.

In composition, she was winners of ACMF National Songwriting Competition (Instrumental category) in 3 consecutive years from 2015 to 2017. In 2016 and 2017, she was the recipient of Tony Dorembus Original Composition Award.  In 2019 and 2021, she was one of selected composers in Artology Fanfare Competition with her compositions “Coronation Fanfare” and ‘Encore” performed by AYO and QYO respectively. In 2021, she won David Henkels Composition Award by Music Society Victoria with her ensemble piece “2020” premier broadcasted by 3MBS. Internationally, she received first prize for 5 years in Golden Key Music Festival Piano Composition Competition. In 2016, she performed her winning composition “Waltz in C major” in a World Composer Recital in Vienna Erhbar Hall.

Besides piano and composition, she is also a percussionist in Melbourne Youth Orchestra. In 2019, she was 1st place winner in Australian Marimba Competition (Australian and New Zealand Student Category). In 2020, she was awarded an Associate Diploma in Orchestral Percussion from Trinity College London. Recently, she performed marimba and won Audience Prize in 3MBS The Talent 2022 Season 1.

Composition inspiration

The title of my piece is ‘Wilderness’. This is because I want to describe the different aspects of it, for example the sparse land, as shown through the texture at the start and the wildlife throughout the piece. At first, I found it very difficult to get ideas because I was composing in a different style, but my teacher gave me the suggestion to get inspiration from William Burton, a famous didgeridoo player, and I watched him play at a concert a few months ago. This helped me with deciding on the instrumentation.  I used contrabassoon as the replacement for didgeridoo. I also used percussion instruments such as woodblock to imitate the sound of clapping sticks. For the tuned percussion (marimba/xylophone), I used a special effect by clicking the mallets to the edges of the bars to further enhance the clapping sound. In this piece, it starts off with a drone in D. I also use Dorian mode because I do not want to have an exact key. The rhythmic ideas are varied in the marimba and the melodic ideas are introduced firstly in the strings. The tension is built up as countermelodies are added from the wind and brass and its crescendos to ff, before dying down and going back to the sparse, wilderness feel again.