In January 2020, Sophie Van Dijk was one of four composers to embark on the bustling two-week adventure of the composition program at AYO National Music Camp. Two and a half years later, Sophie can be found working with Omega Ensemble as part of the CoLAB program, collaborating with Sydney-based composer collective Konzertprojekt and chipping away at her own solo projects. You can follow Sophie’s work via her Instagram and website.
Sophie took time out of her busy schedule to reflect on her experience at National Music Camp and its impact on her as an emerging composer.
The days of National Music Camp are well structured for instrumentalists with rehearsals and tutorials aplenty, but the Composition program follows its own flexible rhythm. In 2020 the program was led by American-Australian composer Melody Eötvös.
“Our days were pretty varied – we had a fair bit of flexibility to implement what we were learning into our compositions. I spent most mornings working on my piece over a coffee before our sessions began!” Sophie notes.
“Most days we had a workshop with our mentor Melody and the other composers, and a session with one of the instrumental tutors. The percussion, tuba and harp sessions were particularly valuable as those instruments seemed the most intimidating!”
Sophie’s creative influences fall within the broad spectrum of human psychology: “I’m inspired by people and am interested in finding ways to reflect community and faith and common human experiences in my music. My creative process often starts with introspection, seeking catharsis through the creative process. I am also incredibly inspired by other art (especially poetry) and social commentaries or essays.
Musically I’m drawn to delicate, minimalist and repetitive elements of music, and forming constellations of complexity from simple origins. My pieces are made with threads of melodies and rhythms that weave together to tell the story of an experience.”
National Music Camp brings together over 200 musicians, tutors and conductors from across Australia, for two weeks filled with musical collaboration and learning. Sophie singles out this diverse range of voices as one of the things that sets National Music camp apart.
“My experience of National Music Camp 2020 can best be described as inspiring, re-energising, challenging and encouraging.
National Music Camp was pivotal in finding my voice as a composer. The creative conversations over the course of the fortnight, and intensively refining my chamber orchestra piece really helped me to reflect on why I make music, what I want to say, and what my sound is.
The program was also really important for me in expanding and consolidating my creative practice – I now engage with and am inspired by a wider variety of artforms – and I was reminded that all art is interconnected and writing music doesn’t happen in a silo.”