Composer Francesca Brzoskowski on Topology's Launchpad Mentorship
For emerging composers in this fragile music industry, innovative quintet Topology have announced their Launchpad mentorship program for 2020.
Under the umbrella of Top Up, Topology’s Launchpad nurtures and empowers composers in their creative work and professional practice.
This year, led by guest mentor Isabella Gerometta, emerging composers Samuel Carrick, Francesca Brzoskowski and Andrew Udal will participate in the program.
We spoke to composer, classical jazz pianist, artist and writer Francesca Brzoskowski on the program and her career to date.
The Creative Issue: What drew you to Topology’s Launchpad program and what are you hoping to achieve?
Francesca Brzoskowski: For me, it’s so helpful. I’m quite new to composing and to be guided by professionals in the industry is just so helpful, on so many levels. It just gives me an advantage to ask questions I want to ask and get the feedback for pieces that I’m struggling with. I’m honestly so thankful for it. I’m very grateful.
I am hoping to achieve a greater knowledge about instrumentation and getting first-person knowledge from people who actually play those instruments on the limitations of what they can play. Then, using that in my music to create innovative and new pieces.
TCI: What is so enriching in working one-on-one with the members of Topology in Launchpad?
Francesca: I really enjoy building a bond with professionals in the music industry. I really believe that it’s just as important as who you know, than what you know. With the networks that you make, you can ask them questions that you were afraid to ask, you can go to them for help, and help build each other up, rather than to be competitors in the same industry. I find this mentorship so enriching because they’re giving back to younger people who might be struggling in music. As a younger person in the music industry, to be supported in this fragile music creative world, it’s very hopeful for a future and a career.
TCI: You also worked with Topology earlier this year for your debut composition, Sigh. What was this experience like?
Francesca: I released my single, Sigh, in late March. To have professional musicians play the music I wrote, really brought it to a new level. They weren’t just playing music, they were breathing it, they were living it, they were speaking the emotions that I wrote in real life time. To have access to studios and recording equipment with my mentors really helped me to give a musical edge to my piece Sigh. Sigh is available on Spotify, iTunes and most streaming services, under Francesca Brzoskowski.
TCI: How has your journey as a professional composer been so far, and where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Francesca: So far, I believe that I have come a long way in the two years since I started composing. I have recently submitted a fanfare orchestration piece to Sydney, and I recently just won the Australian Fanfare Competition. I think that really shows that I am making progress in my career. In five years’ time, I hope to see myself working more in theatre, as musical theatre and plays are really my passion. I hope to be working with directors and taking their vision and putting it in a sonic way. I’m also passionate about performing and living art as well, so I hope to be working as a composer doing commissions.
TCI: Do you have a process for composing? What inspires you?
Francesca: For me, my process is really digging deep into my emotions and finding a chord or a particular note that represents that. For a few hours or so, something will stick. It will just stick inside my head, and I’ll just keep repeating that little passage over and over again. Gradually, I’ll build upon that. I do love to get lots of feedback on my pieces as well. So I’m always calling up my friends saying, ‘Hey, do you like this? What does this sound like to you?’. It’s so helpful, having that strong support network, in any industry, is important to thrive and grow. So I would say feedback and just having fun, playing around. I try not to take myself too seriously in the composing program, I like to let it happen naturally.
TCI: Do you have any musical influences or favourite genres for your work?
Francesca: My biggest influence would have to be Joe Hisaishi, the composer for the Studio Ghibli films. I find his simplicity, how his music is so simple, yet it conveys so much. I love his use of silences, juxtaposed to theses giant, enormous clashes of instrumentation. There’s just so much to say in a few notes. I would say that using silence in my music, and just using a little bit of notes here and there. What I’m trying to say is, how can I convey what I’m saying in as little as possible. I really like that idea of restraint and setting myself challenges to work with. So, I definitely think Joe Hisaishi is a huge influence of my music.
TCI: What other projects are you working on at the moment?
Francesca: I’m really excited for this year, I’m writing my EP Ocean Sounds. I worked with a Brisbane photographer and I’m taking his photos of the ocean and conveying them through sound, using the Topology instruments. I’m also really excited to go to Sydney, to be recording with the Australian Youth Orchestra, my fanfare, that I won in the competition. I’m currently working on music for a play performed by Vena Cava Productions. I am also working on a few choral pieces and a small album of piano sketches.
Francesca: Definitely! For people who are in the same boat as me, just past starting out, they know where their ground is but they’re asking themselves where do I go next? I definitely recommend it for intermediate composers.
More info on Launchpad here. The signature works culminating from the Launchpad 2020 program will be performed by Topology during 2021.