Josephine Macken is a composer and improviser who lives and works on Gadigal land (Sydney, Australia). Her work centres the concept of ‘interference’ as both a vital compositional tool and an aesthetic framework for articulating her practice. This materialises in her work through mediations of disclosure and secrecy, disturbances unfolding within and across modes of sound production, feedback loops, subversions of agency hierarchies and an unyielding preoccupation with the uncanny.
Her research and its practical basis follows the fault lines of resistance patterns and draws from the kinds of translations across expressive modes (notation, sound, text) afforded by the cracks that form. This is the case most recently in her completion of a Masters of Music (composition) on scholarship under Prof. Liza Lim at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music as a participant in the 2018–20 award-winning Composing Women Program.
Josephine has presented her research at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music (2017), Fujian Normal University (2017), Darmstädter Ferienkurse (2018), Harvard University (2019) and Columbia University (2019), the latter two as part of a delegation from the Sydney Conservatorium.
In 2021, Josephine’s first opera ‘The Tent’ was nominated for an APRA AMCOS Art Music Award in the ‘Work of the year: Dramatic’ category; the panel noted how “Macken created a world of beautiful chaos in this work, using haunting electronics and the human voice to explore a technological dystopia. …Very engaging in its slow-moving narrative, the dreamlike, almost entirely wordless score invites us to contemplate mythologies of presence, absence, loss and consciousness.”
Her work has been performed internationally by such artists and ensembles as Claire Chase, Elision Ensemble, Speak percussion, Sydney Chamber Opera, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Offspring, Ensemble Noveau and Mivos quartet.
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