BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE
The APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund is now open to Australia and New Zealand composers aiming to express their “innovation, compositional craft, and excellence”. It doesn’t matter what style of music you work across — sound art or jazz, film music or opera — the challenge is yours. The pool is $82,500, and your share when awarded is $7,500.
While you’re thinking about how this money could serve your project, you can discover Corrina Bonshek’s story. This composer received a grant from the 2022 Art Music Fund, and it went straight into her work the space between us… The funding helped her craft more than 30 minutes of music, which premiered at the Brisbane Music Festival and is about to go global.
Corrina tells CutCommon about the significance of her Art Music Fund success.
Corrina, how would you describe that initial feeling of hearing the news that you had been successful in the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund?
I remember feeling both delighted and relieved when I heard the news. Brisbane Music Festival program launch was coming up — with the public announcement of the date of the premiere of the space between us…. The Art Music Fund was the last component of my commissioning fee, and I was nervous about where I would source funds if it didn’t come through.
Speaking of nerves, many artists have brilliant ideas but face a barrier to making things happen. How much stress do you feel artists face when it comes to the financial pressures of realising their projects?
This is a high-stress industry as can be seen by mental health stats in the performing arts generally. There are so many barriers to realising creative projects, and at any time it can fall over.
Personally, I deal with the stress of the unknown by meditating, and working on projects that I am truly passionate about, as I find that fuels me up for risk-taking. I aim not to worry about things I cannot control, and ‘trust’ that it will work out.
It helps that I have a bunch of producer buddies around me who are great problem solvers!
The Art Music Fund offers a huge pool of financial assistance in this area — and that means it’s competitive. How did you approach the application, knowing you’d be up against artists in a similar position — those who were also seeking generous funding to make their project happen?
Yes, it is competitive. I applied unsuccessfully twice before.
The feedback I received was incredibly useful, and this helped me craft a better application this time around.
So when it came to that submission, did you do it alone, or did you seek help along the way?
Alex Raineri [who played piano in the premiere] was a big help on this application. He read my draft and offered some really helpful tips and, as artistic director of Brisbane Music Festival, was a great sounding board generally.
I also had support from next stage partners, especially master percussionist Luis Bittencourt who is championing the project’s presentation in Portugal.
Knowing that I have the support and interest of collaborators and partners helps me put in the hard yards and take risks.
When you found out you received the Art Music Fund to support your work, what did you do next to get things happening?
Brisbane Music Festival had already arranged the musicians and venue for the premiere, and so I was free to lean into composing and planning of the work, including staging as an installation inside St John’s Cathedral with the audience walking amongst the musicians.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could leave space in the music for the reverb of the cathedral to activate and bloom. It was really fun!
In what way does receiving external funding make you feel accountable to your work? Does it keep you on track, or make you feel part of a community?
For me, securing funding is a key part of my composing life, one that allows me to compose during business hours. It is a job in itself.
I spend around a third of my work time sourcing funding, another third organising and putting on works — producing, and the remaining third composing.
I formed a company called Corrina Bonshek & Collaborators to support this process, with the support of long-term producing collaborator and musician Greta Kelly.
You recently had the world premiere of the space between us… at the Brisbane Music Festival on December 9. How did you find this experience of hearing the culmination of your work?
It was an absolute delight to hear my creative ideas come to life within the massive reverb of St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane, and to work with such an accomplished group of musicians on the realisation of the work.
I was co-commissioned by Alex Raineri and Brisbane Music Festival. Alex is a long-term collaborator who has championed my music since 2016. I have immense trust and respect for his abilities as an artist and director. The experience was very smooth.
I understand you’re now taking things global! What’s on the cards for your international collaboration?
I am really excited about the next stage, which will be scaling up the work for large orchestral forces for performance in cathedrals in two Portuguese cities in 2024. This is the fruit of collaboration and discussions with master percussionist Luis Bittencourt who is an immensely creative sound maker, musician, composer, and researcher.
I’ll be applying for funding and fundraising in 2023 to support the composing of this work later this year.
What would you say is your key takeaway from being an Art Music Fund recipient?
I think the big takeaway for me is to dream big, and to share those dreams with your music friends and collaborators. If they get excited about them too, they might be in a position to help you realise them.
Applications now open for the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund. Visit the website to learn how to apply for $7,500 towards your dream project in composition.
the space between us… was co-commissioned by Alex Raineri for Brisbane Music Festival, with support from the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund in partnership with the Australian Music Centre and SOUNZ, Arts Queensland, and the Australian Government through the Australia Council. Listen to the work online.
Images supplied. Corrina captured by Spill Photography.