Xiao-Xiao Kingham [Age 16, VIC]

Composition: Melbourne Flourish

Hi, I’m Xiao-Xiao Kingham, 16 years old and live in Victoria. From the age of 3 I began playing piano, at 6 I started on violin, 8 on electric organ and two years ago I started bassoon. In regards to composition, I started composing mainly piano when I was 6, to the point where I performed with two of my compositions in Jakarta and Bangkok, as part of the Asian Pacific Junior Original Concert in 2010 and 2011. When I was 12 I started exploring a wider range of instrumentation, developing into string quartets and eventually orchestral works.

Composition Inspiration 

The title of Melbourne Flourish is part homage to Melbourne and part play on words. There are various definitions of flourish, but my key focus on the word is ‘to thrive in growth’. Melbourne is a city full of a mixture of everything, sports, arts, people, cultures, etc, but in my piece I mostly focused on its combination of city and bush. The view from my backyard, especially, highlights this, with parkland as far as the eye can see with skyscrapers towering in the distance. Through these differences, Melbourne grows, thrives and, well, flourishes, in its own unique way. I experience this personally every day as I have to travel to Melbourne’s centre to reach my school each day. Another definition of flourish I used is ‘to add embellishments in writing’. This I adhered to the technical aspects of my piece, with plenty trills, ornaments and ‘flicks’ through various instruments, along with its wide range and frequent jumps, making it light and flowing.  Finally, flourish also actually means fanfare. To be honest, I wasn’t even really aware of this when I composed it.

There are two main sources that influenced my piece. First, is the opening of Leonard Bernstein’s operetta, Candide. When I first developed this piece, I couldn’t get its opening motif out of my head and knew I had to incorporate it somehow into my piece, especially as it would prove affective in grasping the attention of its listeners – essential in a fanfare. However, I did feel as if the music was heavier and busy than I felt best suited this piece, which is why I then incorporated my second influence, Ross Edwards.

As a Melbourne based piece, this iconic Australian composer well known for his pieces specifically addressing this county’s ‘elements’ along with Peter Sculthorpe, seemed essential in composing. Specifically, Ross Edwards’ Pipyarum Mantra with its jagged rhythms, lightness, and playful aspects inspired me, especially in the second part of my piece.