Carl Vine--Running the American and Australian Range

As former British colonies speaking the same--or at least variations of the same--language, America and Australia share much cultural common ground. According to Australian composer Carl Vine, the biggest similarity is diversity.

“Australia has not evolved a unique compositional style and neither has America,” says Vine, whose Symphony No. 2 will be performed by the touring Sydney Symphony tonight at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

“There are many things going on in each country, and no one style or composer really stands out.”

The 34-year-old Sydney resident was born and reared in Perth and attended Western Australia University, first studying physics, then music. Trained as a 12-tone composer, Vine eventually drew most of his influences from Steve Reich and John Cage, avoiding the more accepted English influences in Australia.


“Actually, I don’t think there has been a good English composer since Henry Purcell,” observes Vine. “All over Australia, many composition teachers were emphasizing the music of English composers like Britten and Walton, but luckily for me, my teacher, John Exton, studied with (Luigi) Dallapiccola.”

Working with the West Australian Symphony as a pianist as well as concertizing on his own in local clubs, Vine is now a full-time free-lance composer, prolifically composing for many mediums including dance. His move to Sydney brought him in contact with a wide variety of new music, and this has had a strong effect on his own music, which he now describes as a mixture of Romantic and Minimalist sensibilities.

“It’s hard to completely like the entire output of another composer, but three recent works have really influenced me: ‘Harmonielehre,’ by John Adams, ‘Einstein on the Beach,’ by Philip Glass, and ‘Tehillim,’ by Steve Reich,” he continues.

“I also discovered the music of Donald Martino when he was in Sydney.”


Above all, Vine exudes optimism about the scene in Australia. He is also very positive about the scene here in America and its influence Down Under.

“The 1950s were a decade of very rapid growth and revolution in America,” he says. “In Australia, we are just now feeling the impact of what was happening here back then.”

In addition to performing Vine’s Symphony No. 2 tonight, the Sydney Symphony, under the baton of Stuart Challender, will perform Mahler’s “Ruckert Lieder” and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. The U.S. debut concert of the ensemble, it’s the first stop of a three-week tour of the United States celebrating the Bicentenary of the European settlement of Australia.

STRIKE UP THE PHIL: The Los Angeles Philharmonic opens its 1988/89 season Thursday, with Andre Previn conducting a program featuring Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Berlioz’s Overture to “Le Corsaire.” Previn will also act as soloist in a performance of Mozart’s C-minor Piano Concerto. The performance, scheduled in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center, will be repeated on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Projected highlights of this season: appearances by conductors Christopher Hogwood, Edo de Waart and Kurt Sanderling, as well as Claus Peter Flor conducting the Berlin (East) Symphony, Sir Colin Davis conducting the Bavarian Symphony and Zubin Mehta conducting the Israel Philharmonic. Other artists appearing this year include Maurizio Pollini, Yo-Yo Ma, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jessye Norman, Horacio Gutierrez, Joshua Bell, Dawn Upshaw, Murray Perahia and Emanuel Ax.

MARATHON IN LONG BEACH: Saturday, the California Outside Music Assn. is giving a music festival that will present the talent of 35 local musicians and music groups at four different venues in Long Beach: System M, OveReact, The Works Gallery and Mum’s. Included in the festivities are performances by micro-tonal composer Kraig Grady, accordionist Nick Ariondo, woodwinds player Vinny Golia, pianist Walter Woods, saxophonist Lynn Johnston and performance group Hichi-rikis.

DANCE: The San Francisco Ballet has added Jerome Robbins’ “Interplay” and Agnes de Mille’s “Rodeo” to its 1989 repertory, which already includes premiere performances of choreography by company artistic director Helgi Thomasson, James Kudelka, and Val Caniparoli.

SCHIFRIN AMONG THE RUINS: Lalo Schifrin, noted film composer and artistic director of the Young Musicians Foundation in Los Angeles, will conduct the premiere of his “Songs of the Aztecs” Oct. 29, on the stone stage of the Plaza de la Luna in the Aztec ruins of Teotihuatan. The performance of the 40-minute work enlists the Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra, and Placido Domingo among other soloists.


NEW WORLD SYMPHONY ON TV: The British Landseer Film and Television Productions company will produce an hourlong documentary on the New World Symphony, the Miami-based training orchestra featured in the New World Music Festival in Orange County this summer. The program will air in Britain in February, and has been sold to the Arts and Entertainment cable network in this country.