R. E. SMITH - australian composer & educator




MURAKAMI’S WELL – Performed by the Western Australian Youth Orchestra. Conducted by Tze Law Chan.

Murakamis Well draws inspiration from Haruki Murakamis The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, both fictionally and structurally. Extremely layered in nature, this piece is designed to be viewed through multiple lenses; each listening of the work highlighting different facets, and bringing a different meaning to the fore. From a technical standpoint, this piece is built upon a collection of notes called a tone row; a non-repetitive ordering of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. This particular tone row is steeped in sentiment as it was a parting gift from a dear friend of the composer. Whilst this collection is the foundation for the piece, the work is not completely serial in nature. Rather, there are glimpses of serialism within the greater context of extended harmony.Deeply rooted in the importance of gesture, colour, narrative, and texture, Smiths music has a certain ethereal quality that stems from ambiguous harmony that is largely unresolved, juxtaposed against complex rhythms. This sound world becomes the vehicle for an exploration of the effects of absolute isolation on the human mind; at the centre of this, the adaptability and elasticity of the brain, and how it alters its basic functions to cope with trauma and the unknown, opening up a wildly vibrant alternate universe.
PERFORMED: 9th July 2016, Perth Concert Hall (premiere)
24th September 2016,Perth Concert Hall
11th December 2016, School of the Arts SINGAPORE
19th December 2016, Hyogo House KOBE
22nd December 2016, Shinjuku Bunka Concert Hall TOKYO


FOREIGNER OR FOREIGNER – Performed by the Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by David Gilbert

A work for orchestra that explores dissociation from both one’s places of origin, and one’s places of destination. It is a kaleidoscopic montage of events suspended between two places of belonging.
PERFORMED: 13th February 2015, John C. Borden Auditorium NEW YORK


 APRICITY – Performed by the Western Australian Youth Orchestra. Conducted by Tze Law Chan

I have a great fascination with the idea of musical works already existing in some form, and the role of the composer in directing their progress into fully-fledged works of art. I was introduced to this idea when I came across some very insightful words by Emiliana Torrini; “It’s like a room full of balloons and you’re pulling one down by its string.” The intention of this work was to distil a pre-existing visual idea into its musical form; for the composer to play the role of alchemist, as opposed to solely creator. In this way the process of composition was quite different to that of my other recent works where I explore ideas of a more transcendental nature within self-conceived narratives. This work is a meditation on a singular phenomenon; a burst of the sun’s warmth on a cold winter’s day.
PERFORMED: 13th July 2013, Perth Concert Hall
BROADCAST: ABC Classic FM 2013

IMPULSION & OPIATE – Performed by the Australian Youth Orchestra. Conducted by Iain Grandage

A work for chamber orchestra in two movements inspired by a series of passages from Bill Bryson’s book A Short History of Nearly Everything which details the journey from the conception of the universe right through to the rise of civilisation. In particular, the absurd simplicity and wit with which he describes the very nature of our being. At the crux of the work lies the idea of an inconceivably vast conglomerate of particles knitting themselves together to weave what we perceive as the known universe.
Movement I – Impulsion A strong urge to do something; an impulse. The force or motive behind an action or process.
Movement II – Opiate The opiate of the masses; something regarded as inducing a false and unrealistic sense of contentment.
PERFORMED: 20th January 2012, Llewellyn Hall CANBERRA
BROADCAST: ABC Classic FM 2012



Openings and the Travelling Pools – Performed by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra EChO Ensemble

An image gleaned from C. S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew lies at the heart of this work. Two children find themselves in a wood so still and placid you can almost “feel the trees grow”. It is filled with small, brightly coloured pools; portals to a myriad of worlds lying in wait. In essence, Openings and the Travelling Pools is centered on the concept of quiescent potential awaiting human impulse, and the exploration of opportunity through openness of the mind.
PERFORMED: 23rd August 2010, ABC Studios PERTH
BROADCAST: ABC Classic FM 2010