A Way of Making Ghosts (Kairos)

A Way of Making Ghosts

ELISION (Aaron Cassidy & Manuel Nawri, conductors), Ensemble Musikfabrik (Aaron Cassidy, conductor), JACK Quartet, line upon line

    A way of making ghosts (2018–20)
1  Self-portrait, 1996
2  Self-Portrait, Three Times, Standing (15.3.1991–20.3.1991)

3  String Quartet (2002)
4  A republic of spaces (2019) 
5  a/grammatical study for three (quasi-)independent players (2002/2008)

    From The wreck of former boundaries
6 The wreck of former boundaries (2015) contrabass solo

The wreck of former boundaries (2016) alto saxophone solo
8 The wreck of former boundaries (2015) electric lap steel guitar & electronics


Ensemble Musikfabrik (1)
Helen Bledsoe, piccolo, alto flute
Christine Chapman, horn
Carl Rosman, contrabass clarinet, E-flat clarinet                                                         
Dirk Wietheger, cello
Aaron Cassidy, conductor

ELISION (2, 5–8)
Daryl Buckley, electric lap steel guitar (8)

Rohan Dasika, double bass (2)
Joshua Hyde, tenor saxophone (2), alto saxophone (7)
Graeme Jennings, violin (5)
Benjamin Marks, trombone (2)
Peter Neville, percussion (5)
Kathryn Schulmeister, double bass (6)
Peter Veale, oboe (5)
Alex Waite, piano (2)
Aaron Cassidy, conductor (2)
Manuel Nawri, conductor (5)

JACK Quartet (3)
Ari Streisfeld, violin 1
Christopher Otto, violin 2
John Pickford Richards, viola
Kevin McFarland, cello

line upon line (4)
Adam Bedell
Cullen Faulk
Matthew Teodori


Recorded, Mediapark 7, Cologne, 8 March 2020 (1); David Li Sound Gallery, The Ian Potter Centre for Performing Arts, Monash University, Melbourne, 26 August 2022 (2, 7); Phipps Hall, University of Huddersfield, 28 March 2009 (3) & 3 November 2019 (4); Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, 26 July 2008 (5); Ginger Studios, Melbourne, 12–13 April 2018 (6, 8)

Producer, Aaron Cassidy; Co-Producer, Stephan Schmidt (1); Daryl Buckley (2, 5–7)                                                                                         

Sound Engineer, Stephan Schmidt (1), Alistair McLean (2, 7), Pierre Alexandre Tremblay (3), Alex Harker (4), Jim Atkins (5), Jimi Lloyd-Wyatt (6, 8); Recording Assistant, Scott McLaughlin (3); Alistair McLean (6, 8); Mixing & Editing, Aaron Cassidy (1–4; 6–8); Jim Atkins (5); Mastering, Richard Scott

Liner notes by Evan Johnson

Supported by the Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM), University of Huddersfield, Australia Council for the Arts, and the RISE Fund of the Australian Government

Kairos 0015073KAI, December 2022

This one has been a long time coming, and has had many more obstacles than even the average commercial recording, which is saying something these days. It comes almost exactly 10 years after my first portrait disc (on NEOS in January 2013), and, even more than that release, which was a kind of snapshot of the first decade of my work, contains a pretty wildly broad collection of pieces across my output, spanning nearly 20 years, from my most recent works back to pieces that were written as I was finishing my PhD in Buffalo in the early 2000s. 

The recordings, too, were made across a huge timespan. The earliest recordings here are from my first few years working at the University of Huddersfield, where I started in October 2007, and where I finished working only a few weeks ago. The a/grammatical study recording was connected to my first portrait concert, with ELISION in Melbourne in 2008, and String Quartet was recorded by the JACK Quartet on their visit to Huddersfield in March 2009. The title work for the disc, A way of making ghosts, a two-part diptych based on the self-portraits of Gerhard Richter, comprises the two most recent works here to be recorded, and even these are both very much a sign of our recent times, making the best of unforeseen obstacles: Self-portrait, 1996 was recorded with Ensemble Musikfabrik barely three days prior to the first lockdowns in mid-March 2020 (I still vividly remember the breathless newspaper headlines that morning in Cologne, which, in retrospect, understated the situation by many degrees of magnitude); Self-Portrait, Three Times, Standing was meant to be recorded in May 2020, but was postponed countless times through a series of Covid cancellations and travel restrictions. We finally managed to get our internationally dispersed quintet together in August 2022 in Melbourne, thanks in no small part to the dogged determination of Daryl Buckley, ELISION’s Artistic Director, as well as through some very generous funding from the University of Huddersfield, which, it must be said, made every track on this disc possible. I am enormously grateful for the institution’s support over the 15 years that I worked there, and this disc is a perfect summation of the projects that were made possible by that support over those years.

A special mention is due to Rohan Dasika, who stepped in with very short notice for Kathryn Schulmeister, due to an injury, and did so absolutely brilliantly. Kathryn’s own contribution here, on the Wreck contrabass solo, was recorded more or less straight off an airplane from California to Melbourne, and without much real notice that it was going to happen — again a bit of a Daryl Buckley special, and indicative of his ability to a) find extraordinary musicians and b) get the very best out of them through his uncanny ability to make the business of new music unbelievably fun. 

Thanks as well to the people at Kairos, who dutifully kept pushing the release date back again and again as new obstacles emerged for that final track.

Finally, many thanks to two people who managed to bring this disparate collection of recordings spanning so many years together into a focused and cogent release: First, the mastering engineer Richard Scott, who I’ve had the pleasure to work with several times through releases on the HCR label, brought together recordings from four venues from 14 years with pretty dramatically different configurations into something that sounds like a record. That was no small task. Second, my very dear friend Evan Johnson, who I first met right around the days when the earliest pieces on this disc were written, contributed a beautiful, elegant booklet essay that pulls all of the overlapping threads of the disc into some sort of clarity. Besides being a superb composer, Evan is one of the best writers I know, and I’m deeply grateful that he’s lent his talents to this release. 

For now it’s available through the streaming service of your choice. Physical copies will be available sometime in the coming days from Kairos and from international retailers. I’ll post a link to the relevant sites and to the liner notes once they’re available. 

Recording with ELISION, David Li Sound Gallery, Melbourne, August 2022
In the booth with a bunch of trouble-makers
Rehearsing Self-Portrait, 1996 with Ensemble Musikfabrik
L to R: Tim McCormack, PA Tremblay, and the JACK Quartet in its original formation: John Pickford Richards, Chris Otto, Kevin McFarland, Ari Streisfeld
Recording String Quartet with the JACK Quartet, Phipps Recital Hall, University of Huddersfield
line upon line recording A republic of spaces
Kathryn Schulmeister, double bass; Jimi Lloyd-Wyatt, recording engineer
Daryl Buckley preparing to record The wreck of former boundaries
Screen shot of the mixing of The wreck of former boundaries for lap steel guitar and electronics. Probably more tracks than is reasonable for a solo piece.

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