Open Letter From Composer Sebastian Lingane About Their New Work In 'Queensland's Finest'

Queensland Symphony Orchestra will feature three of Queensland's brightest musicians together for the first time in 'Queensland's Finest', as part of Brisbane Festival.

Sebastian Lingane

Conducted by the acclaimed Dane Lam 'Queensland's Finest' features pianist Jayson Gillham, who won the Montreal International Music Competition in 2015 performing Beethoven, and composer Sebastian Lingane, who won first and second place in the ASME QLD Young Composers Competition.

Sebastian is a percussionist, pianist, ukulele player, and part-time accordionist too. They followed their Young Composers triumph with a first place in the Darren Middleton Songwriting Competition, and in 2018 had multiple pieces premiere including a full original score for a production of 'Hamlet'.

'Queensland's Finest' will comprise of a new work from Sebastian, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4 in G, and 'Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (Till Eulenspiegel's lustige Streiche)' from Richard Strauss.

Here, Sebastian Lingane pens an open letter for us ahead of presenting their new work in 'Queensland's Finest'.

“When writing any music, I try to shake myself of societal expectations and give myself brief moments of freedom to be untethered and unaffected in my own skin; thus, my life exists as a perpetual search for the opportunity for this feeling – this joy. I can use my own perspective and proverbial gaze to take from my interests and the world around me to create art that represents me as a person. 

This writing mindset led me to my new work with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, 'Illuminating Paradise', a tone poem about the ideals of pre-20th-Century western esotericism. As I draw from archaic references to make new music, I can place new context on these forgotten ideas, especially as someone who perhaps wouldn't have been allowed to have engaged with them. So my piece is a continuation of the great composer traditions at the turn of the 20th-Century, a subversive resistance of their beliefs, and an exploration of my own emotions. 

QSO Beethoven 3

'Illuminating Paradise' is a highlight reel of my writing style as it whirls through fantastical flourishes and relentless chant-like rhythms. I wanted to write as if the music was in a cloud, slowly but constantly falling to fashion the feeling of dreaming. The blurry textures give way to intense and biting perpetual rhythms – the difference between the alchemist and the pagan. Repeating throughout is the ouroboros theme, a twisting serpentine melody that distorts and weaves between the instruments. Is this snake a reference to inevitability, Satan, men, society, magic, nature, the universe? Perhaps it is referencing transitioning and the many challenges that follow it? 

I find this piece has meant many things as I've become more comfortable in myself and begun transitioning throughout the piece's life. It paints a symbolic picture of my experience from the depths of dysphoria to the ecstasy of being respected. 'Illuminating Paradise' followed me from the previous self and is emerging by my side as an empowering and empyrean experience. I thank the beautiful people at Queensland Symphony Orchestra for commissioning me to write this work, as well as my supportive friends and co-musicians.”

'Queensland's Finest' plays Queensland Performing Arts Centre 3-4 September.


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