Composer Gemma Peacocke Premieres Work in US

New Zealand-born, New Jersey-based composer Gemma Peacocke will premiere a piece called “Skirl” at this week’s Mizzou International Composers Festival in Missouri.

The word “means both the shrill sound of a bagpipe and the keening of the bereaved,” Peacocke told the Columbia Daily Tribune.

In her piece, as in much of the music Peacocke composes, the weight of history intersects with a moment’s urgency; mind, soul and body connect to make a sound both glorious and devastating.

“I think a lot about the place of women and girls in our world and how our voices and our bodies are ruthlessly critiqued,” she said. “I imagined a collective skirl from women and girls whose worth has been questioned and diminished because of the patriarchal systems in almost all contemporary societies.”

Peacocke’s wide curiosity only helps her collapse created boundaries to find what we have in common. She is a student of literature, has collaborated closely with theatre artists, and continues to mine extraordinary and precious nuggets from the cultures she affectionately studies.

Peacocke’s fascinations also express themselves in a lightly comic way on her website where, on several occasions, she mentioned growing up in a bedroom once inhabited by Rocky Horror Picture Show composer Richard O’Brien. Meeting him someday is a mission for Peacocke.

“I love the fact that as children we both had the same bedroom in the same house, and that we both had to leave New Zealand to pursue music,” she said.

“I loved my childhood bedroom because it had these perfect, child-size hiding spaces above its two built-in wardrobes, and I could climb up into them as a kid and curl up and read books and let my imagination run free. Maybe Richard did the same thing.”

In 2016, Peacocke worked with Australian director Benita de Wit on her play Undrown’d about asylum seekers held in offshore detention centres.

Original article by Aarik Danielsen, Columbia Daily Tribune, July 20, 2018.

Tags: Columbia Daily Tribune  Gemma Peacocke  Mizzou International Composers Festival  Richard O'Brien  Skirl  

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