Biography

Composer, performer, and naturalist Ron Nagorcka (born 1948) spent much of his childhood exploring music and the natural world on a sheep farm in Western Victoria (Australia). He went on to study history, pipe organ with Sergio de Pieri, harpsichord with Max Cooke, and composition with Keith Humble, Ian Bonighton and Jean-Charles Francois at Melbourne University and then composition and electronic music at the University of California San Diego, where his teachers included Kenneth Gaburo, Pauline Oliveros, Bob Ericson, and John Silber. During the 1970s he was active as a composer in Melbourne where he founded the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre - providing a venue of considerable importance to many emerging composers and musicians of the time - and taught composition at the Melbourne State College.

He has toured Europe, the USA and Japan on various occasions as a composer and performer:

1979 - Europe with Warren Burt
1983 - Paris Autumn Festival
1987 - Europe with Roberto Laneri
1997 - Japan with Robert Williams and Larry Polansky
2001 - London with Elizabeth Anderson
2003 - New York with Downtown Ensemble
2003 - Norway with David Scott Hamnes & Sweden with Gary Verkade
2007 - USA with Sarah Lloyd, Norway, Sweden, Italy

In 1986 he visited Tasmania as a tutor at the National Young Composers School in Hobart, and decided to move to the island. Since 1988 he has been living and working in a remote forest in northern Tasmania, where he has built his own house and solar-powered studio.

As an active Field Naturalist, he takes a keen interest in the science, as well as the aesthetics of the Australian bush and along with David Stewart of “Naturesound Australia” has produced a comprehensive identification CD for Tasmanian birds. He has also made several camping trips to inland Australia to collect the sounds of Australian wildlife.
His recordings of nature also become the basis for many of his compositions. The melodies, rhythms, even the instrumental quality of the music are generated by painstaking listening and analysis of natural Australian soundscapes.

Digital technology also enables him to explore a long held interest in the ancient tuning known as "just intonation". An analysis of birdsong provides the basis for the scales he designs. He also writes for conventional instruments using equal temperament. It was the influence of Australian indigenous culture - in particular the didjeridu players with whom he occasionally worked - who encouraged him to develop more of an understanding of the Land, and to reflect this in his music. He makes and plays his own didjeridus, and has incorporated this instrument into his music since 1974. The influence of traditional Aboriginal music is otherwise most evident in his rhythmical techniques.

From 1990 - 1996 much of Nagorcka's output was performed by the ensemble NYET, which began as a collaboration with Tasmanian poet Bruce Roberts. During the summer of 1996, with the help of a grant from the Australia Council, NYET were joined by other artists directly inspired by Tasmania's natural heritage in a series of public workshops and concerts in national parks and remote areas of northern Tasmania.

Recent Career Highlights
2007 – tour of USA, Norway, Sweden and Italy, including live performance on KPFK-FM radio in Los Angeles, a residency at Dartmouth College New Hampshire in association with naturalist Sarah Lloyd, and major concerts in Trondheim Norway with Bert Chan (clarinet), Ole Jorgen Melhus (trombone), Tonje Bekken (cello) and David Scott Hamnes (pipe organ).

2003 - completed a major work -”Artamidae” - commissioned by ABC Classic FM. This was premiered by Nagorcka in 3 concerts in New York with the Downtown Ensemble in May 2003. June and July 2003 - presented 5 concerts in Norway with organist David Scott Hamnes, 2 concerts in Sweden with organist Gary Verkade and a concert in Florence with Roberto Laneri and the group “Musica in forma di Cristalli”.

2002 - completed a CD of his music with Move Records in Melbourne, and presented his music at concerts in Eltham, Toorak, Hobart and Launceston.

2001 - performed major work “This Beauteous Wicked Place” with Elizabeth Anderson at the City of London Festival in the Great Hall of the Old Bailey. Performances in Gent and Florence in July 2001.

1999 - "Wilderness Residency" at Eddystone Pt. sponsored by Arts Tasmania where he wrote “This Beauteous Wicked Place” for harpsichord, didjeridu and Australian bush sounds. This was premiered at the Ballarat Goldfields Festival in January 2000. Awarded a commendation by Melbourne University in the Albert H. Maggs Composition Award.

1998 - "Tasmanian Toccata" for didjeridu, sampler and pipe organ (played by Calvin Bowman) received enthusiastically by full houses and with critical acclaim as the main feature of three concerts to open the new organ in the chapel of Trinity College in Melbourne.

1997 - joined by Robert Williams and Larry Polansky (from New Hampshire, USA) in a concert of his music as part of the "Sounding Sphere" festival in Harima, Japan.

1996 - collaboration with Sieglinde Karl, Kate Hamilton, and Hazel Smith for the installation "Secret Places" in Launceston, Hobart, Melbourne and Orange.

Further Information
24 Australian composers by John Jenkins NMA publications 1988
Oxford Companion to Australian Music
www.amcoz.com.au (Australian Music Centre)
www.frogpeak.org (Frogpeak Music)