Liddell siblings make music
by Patrick ‘01 and Elizabeth Liddell ‘03
Last year, two Bradley University alumni came together from opposite sides of the planet to share their talents and passions in music. Siblings Patrick ’01 and Elizabeth Liddell ’03 met up in Melbourne, Australia: one the composer, and one the performer, in an opportunity that only comes once in a lifetime.
On June 30, performer Elizabeth was featured in the world premiere of a piece entitled “For Wee-Boo.” Her brother Patrick, a student at Monash University in Melbourne, wrote the piece for solo bassoon and double reed trio.
Patrick’s view of the experience:
I had already been in Australia studying music for a few months when my sister wrote me to ask where I was studying. The International Double Reed Society was holding its annual conference at Monash University, and she was curious as to whether I had heard of it. Funny enough, it was actually the school I was attending!
Soon, my sister got it in her head that she wanted to come down, attend the conference, and visit me. Basically it was an excuse, I assumed, to visit Australia; however, she was quite serious about it, and figured that it would be a good opportunity to play a new piece: namely, the one I had told her that I would write for her.
I based the three movements on memories of us growing up, playing and singing together. They were quite different in style from anything I had written, and, according to Lyz, different than anything in the double reed literature.
She worked very hard on those pieces. It was wonderful to have a performer so interested in correctly attending to every detail of my work. After a single performance during her master’s recital at The Ohio State University, she flew here to begin preparing with the ensemble I had put together for the conference.
Elizabeth’s view of the experience:
I wrote up a painstakingly detailed proposal, asking past and present professors for their advice and recommendations. Finally, almost a month later, I received the letter of acceptance! I was going to Melbourne! One week later, the sheet music arrived in the mail, and I started working. I researched and applied for grants through the university. I formed a double reed trio of my own in the United States, even though the conference performance would be with Aussie musicians.
I received both grants to cover the costly airfare. I gave a shaky preview performance of the piece during my master’s recital. Nine days later, I boarded a plane.
Reeds are terrible in weather changes; it was summer in the United States but winter in Australia. I struggled with my own reeds, spending hours bent over bits of cane and wire, while simultaneously trying to adjust to a new ensemble of players. The students, gathered from several Melbourne schools and universities, were skilled, and we quickly had the piece together.
The performance took place in a wintry hall on the Monash campus. The three movements are still stuck in my head, proof that they’re good in my eyes (or ears!). An internationally acclaimed performer has requested the sheet music for the work. I couldn’t have asked for a more successful event.
Patrick Liddell ’01 earned a bachelor of music in composition at Bradley and a master’s in music composition from Northwestern University in 2002. Elizabeth Liddell ’03 earned a B.A. in music and English from Bradley followed in 2004 by a master’s of music in bassoon performance from The Ohio State University.
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