Composer Spotlight Q&A: Aidan Teplitzky

Aidan is currently undertaking a PhD at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. 

A recipient of sound's lockdown composing commission and skills development opportunity, Aidan's new work was premiered by musicians from new music ensemble, Any Enemy (North East New Music Ensemble), in a unique live performance during lockdown over Zoom in June 2020. 

The performance is available to watch again here.

Find out more about Aidan and his musical interests and inspirations in our recent Q&A below. 

What stage are you at in your career right now? 

I think I apply somewhere in the mush between emerging and emerged artist, like a really grotesque butterfly.

When and what made you decide to pursue composition as a career? 

Pfft, who considers composition as a career in the 21st century?! I think it’s more realistic to treat it as a vocation but the desire to create and to get better at creating came about while I was at school. I had an amazing music department at my school (Hyndland Secondary) and in getting extra composition lessons at the RCS Juniors school with Audrey McPherson I realised I wanted to keep on creating new music. 

Do you have a favourite composition you have written and why? 

Whatever I am currently working on. I think it’s very easy for artists to get misty-eyed over their past and I don’t see much point in reminiscing when I should be trying to make the next piece my best piece.

What are your compositional aspirations post pandemic, and have they changed from before 2020? 

I am going to be continuing my PhD at RBC with Dr. Michael Wolters and Joe Cutler looking at how to embody working-classness in new interdisciplinary compositions. I’m also really thinking about the importance of physicality in music making, not in some embarrassing way like a player doing some John Cage knock-off, but about the importance of physical presence and who is present in our artistic spaces, both artist and audience and whether they are actively or passively (or passive progressively) engaged.

What forces do you prefer writing for and why? 

It all depends on what the piece is. It is too easy to adopt some ‘brand identity’ of only writing music for a particular set of forces and I don’t think that limitation is healthy for continuing to challenge your artistic voice. To badly quote Bowie, you’ve got to feel like you’re almost drowning when you’re creating.

Which composer (dead or alive) has most inspired you and why?

Julius Eastman. Hands down. His work is so incredibly individual and almost human. What I mean by this is that it rides that line between drawing you in and pushing you back so you, as a listener, are trying to stay with it (pardon the pun) to attempt to understand it.

What would your dream commission be? 

That’s a weird question because it’s so self-centred. A commission is always a relationship between yourself and whoever is wanting to work with you. I don’t want to force myself on some fancy ensemble as some pathetic ego-trip and would much rather just work with people who actually want to work with me

If you could describe your work in three words, what would they be? 

Direct, Honest, and Uncompromising.

What music have you been listening to lately that you would recommend to others?

Been listening to a lot of Cardiacs, Carlos Chavez (mostly chamber music), and Kate Bush. Also the odd bit of Captain Beefheart, SOPHIE, and Lingua Ignota.

Click on these links to find out more about Aidan: