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

Listen to Jennifer’s composition performed by the QYO Chamber Orchestra.

Jennifer Gao [Age 18, NSW]

Composition: Funfair Fanfare

I’m Jennifer Gao, a composer, and a first-year student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music studying Composition for Creative Industries. Music has led me through most years of my life.  Beginning my first interaction with music, I started learning the piano at age 5, pursuing grades for 3 years. When I moved to Australia, I began my challenging but enjoyable journey in self teaching, both piano and musical notation. Music has always been a substantial part of everyday, whether it’s listening to songs, performing, composing or analysing, I’ve really enjoyed each second. I had especially taken a liking to analysing and admiring the layers of instrumentation, melodies, harmonies, rhythms and the overall skills and effort in each piece of music. However, it took me way too long to realise my passion for composing over other forms of musical practice as I had only been exposed to it in 2020, my final year of high school. It’s the way I was so absorbed into composing my piece for HSC music that helped me understand that “This is what I want to do.” So now, I’m very honoured to participate in Artology’s Fanfare Competition, and am thrilled to achieve my dream of having my work performed.

Compositional Inspiration

When I first thought about composing a fanfare, my mind immediately thought of the loud blaring music of a circus, and this idea stuck with me until the end. My piece “Funfair Fanfare”, as the title suggests, is inspired by and composed to serve the purpose of a carnival theme played at the beginning of a circus show, to grab the attention of the audience. “Funfair Fanfare” takes inspiration from “Cuphead”, a video game near and dear to my heart, as I had loved it both music and gameplay-wise. I very much admire the composer, Kristofer Maddigan, for the stylistic features of his pieces, matching the 1930s cartoon feeling of the game’s visuals. Maddigan uses specific instrumentation and techniques from jazz and ragtime genres to achieve this, which is something I aspire to do in my future career as a composer as well. For my own piece, I emphasised heavily on the playful, bizarre, and essentially the “wacky” qualities of a circus show through “honky” tone colour, fast tempo, and anticipating glissandos. I aim for my piece to capture the listener’s attention and imagine themselves in at circus show without… actually being in a circus.