WHEN ONLY THE WALLS CAN SING

Mark Pollard is Associate Professor of Music (Interactive Composition) and a champion of music and musicians associated with the University of Melbourne over many decades. Site-specific compositional practice is one of Mark’s many areas of innovation, which he integrates with his teaching and research. The site-specific work When only the walls can sing was composed for the Multivocal exhibition, and was performed live at the Old Quad on 24 March 2021.

Mark writes: “This new work… re-imagines sonic memories from the very first graduating year performance concerts of the Conservatorium in Wilson Hall 8pm Wednesday 10 June 1896 and the School of Music VCA, Orchestral Studio 10am Sunday 20 November 1977. Sound moments from 6 music works performed within these programs are deconstructed and reconstructed in sound, space and place via solo vibraphone and 20 overlaid orchestras to illuminate layered glimpses of music sounding out from the past, present and future. When only the walls can sing is dedicated to my wife Marie.”
In the following video, Mark discusses the changes in his compositional process wrought by the arrival of COVID-19. He writes “I began composing this work and chose the title, concept and wrote the  program note in January 2020, well before any sense of COVID-19 here.  However last sections of the work were completed in isolation as the world moved to a new era of virtual and isolated interaction. This experience completely changed the meaning of this work, as concert halls, music buildings, music venues and mammoth conservatorium buildings here and around the world now stand empty. All that remains are the distant echoes of the sound of music past embedded in the walls and spaces that is now resonating to no one.”