Australian Miniseries: SpaceWarp (Holly Harrison)


Holly Harrison Composer
Alex Voorhoeve Cello

“SpaceWarp” premiered online on 4 December 2020.

Composer’s note

Written for 5-string electric cello and effects, SpaceWarp conjures up space-inspired and intergalactic imagery. The sound of the cello is quite literally ‘warped’ by effects, particularly delay, creating a kind of wrinkle in time and space.

The cello is rhythmically frenetic, yet is continuously interrupted by lyrical fragments that burst through, giving way to a more melodic middle section. These moments see the cello sounding more natural or familiar. It’s no accident that SpaceWarp sounds rather like spacewalk, with the delay effect in the slower section suggesting a sense of slow-motion or weightlessness experienced by astronauts in zero gravity.

Holly Harrison

Portrait of Holly Harrison
Holly Harrison, Australian composer

Holly Harrison is a young Australian composer from Western Sydney. Holly’s music is driven by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, embracing stylistic juxtapositions, the visceral energy of rock, and whimsical humour. Her music has been performed in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA. She has recently been announced as the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s first ACS composer in residence across 2020 and 2021.

Holly’s music has been performed by artists including four-time Grammy award-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird, Alarm Will Sound, Australian Youth Orchestra, Ensemble Offspring, Orkest de Ereprijs, Goldmund Quartett, and Nu Deco Ensemble.

Her works have been heard at the 2020 String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam (NL), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (NL), November Music (NL), LA Phil’s Noon to Midnight (USA), Sounds of Sweden (SWE), and Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (USA).

Holly has held composer in residence positions at MLC School and Prairiewood High School. She plays drum kit in the improvised rock duo, Tabua- Harrison – their debut record Scout is available on Psychopyjama.

Alex Voorhoeve playing the cello outdoors
Alex Voorhoeve, CSO cellist (Image: Australian Dance Party / Lorna Sim)

As a young cellist, the great inertial mass of my musical education enticed me to Europe, a natural progression for a young, classically trained musician. My time spent with various ensembles I performed and toured with; the sheer quantity, quality and diversity of experience; and the consumption of brilliant, strange and challenging artistic productions of all manner inspired me to explore my own esoteric expressions of how I personally experience music.

To this end I returned to Australia where I completed a graduate diploma in computer animation at the Australian Centre for Arts and Technology. These skills brought forth Discovery, Familiarisation, Recognition, a prototype musical visualisation written for three cellos, exploring how to embed the structural and acoustic information in a piece of music into a coherent visual narrative.

I wanted to explore if this complex, translated visual information could reflect a similar emotional portrait experienced by the listener. Supplementing this work, I developed an interactive DVD-rom which used this music visualisation as an educational tool to introduce a wide variety of the concepts which underpin harmony, rhythm and musical structure. After featuring this work at a variety of international conferences and music festivals, my focus became more granular, pursuing explorations in composition, sound design and relationships between movement and sound as articulated through my work with ensembles like AmpleSample and the Australian Dance Party.

My explorations into the avant-garde have been nicely balanced with my more traditional work with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, chamber ensembles engagements including choral and ballet productions, film scores and jazz productions.

Alex Voorhoeve


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