Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Classical News - Australian Composers

Australia is an amazing country blessed with sweeping landscapes and a wealth of talented composers who make us proud. The works of our great composers cover a diverse range of colours, textures and styles that have inspired audiences both here and abroad. Hal Leonard Australia is pleased to represent a large number of our fantastic Australian composers, a small selection of who are listed below.

Elena Kats-Chernin
"Her status as one of this country’s most prolific and consistently innovative composers remains unchallenged… [She] appears to achieve the impossible, straddling the two seemingly irreconcilable camps of intellectualism and accessibility." - Sydney Morning Herald

Elena Kats-Chernin is one of the most cosmopolitan composers working today, having reached millions of listeners worldwide through her prolific catalogue of works for theater, ballet, orchestra, and chamber ensemble. Her dramatically vivid music communicates a mixture of lightheartedness and heavy melancholy, combining strong rhythmic figures with elements of cabaret, tango, ragtime, and klezmer. One of Australia’s leading composers, Elena Kats-Chernin has created works in nearly every genre. Among her many commissions are pieces for Evelyn Glennie, Ensemble Modern, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Sequitur, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Her brilliantly scored, energetic, and often propulsive music has been choreographed by dance-makers around the world. In 2000 she collaborated with leading Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard in a series of large-scale dance works. The first of these, Deep Sea Dreaming, was broadcast to an audience of millions worldwide as part of the opening ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Kats-Chernin's music continues to be heard on TV and at the cinema in the UK with the long-running Lloyds TSB advertising campaign "For the journey…" employing the Eliza Aria from her ballet Wild Swans. In 2011 Kats-Chernin was appointed Composer-in-Residence with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. It was a year filled with world premieres, including Obsidian Light, River’s Lament, Little Green Road to Fairyland and Symphonia Eluvium (Latin for symphony of the floods), a full length symphony inspired by the 2011 Queensland floods. It tells the stories of these times in four movements, inspired by turbulence and noise, survival and loss, the mud army and resilience, optimism and moving on. Elena Kats-Chernin is published by Böte and Bock.

Brett Dean
"...a voice of fertile imagination, originality and expressive subtlety." - Chicago Tribune

Brett Dean studied in Brisbane before moving to Germany in 1984 where he was a permanent member of the Berlin Philharmonic for fourteen years. Dean returned to Australia in 2000 to concentrate on his growing compositional activities, and his works now attract considerable attention, championed by conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Markus Stenz and Daniel Harding. One of the most internationally performed composers of his generation, much of Dean’s work draws from literary, political or visual stimuli, including a number of compositions inspired by paintings of his wife Heather Betts. Dean also performs widely, as solo violist, chamber musician and conductor, and these performing relationships inform and enhance his world as a composer. Recent premieres have included Dean’s first full-length opera Bliss (libretto by Amanda Holden after the novel by Peter Carey), in a highly-acclaimed production by Opera Australia which was described by The Australian newspaper as “a success in every way”. Dean’s String Quintet Epitaphs premiered this season and in February 2011 the Wigmore Hall presented a Brett Dean Composer Day in which Dean performed within a range of chamber music programs exploring his music. Brett Dean is published by Böte and Bock.

Ross Edwards
“There is no Australian composer whose music is as instantly recognisable as that of Ross Edwards.” – West Australian

One of Australia's best known and most respected composers, Ross Edwards has created a unique sound world which seeks to reconnect music with elemental forces and restore such qualities as spontaneity and the impulse to dance. His music, universal in that it is concerned with age-old mysteries surrounding humanity, is at the same time deeply connected to its roots in Australia, whose cultural diversity it celebrates, and from whose natural environment it draws inspiration, notably through birdsong and the mysterious drones of insects.

Ross Edwards's compositions, which are performed worldwide, include five symphonies, concertos, orchestral, chamber and vocal music, children's music, film scores, opera and music for dance. In 2010 Ross Edwards completed two commissions for the West Australian Symphony - Elegies and Epiphanies and Spirit Ground. Other recent works include Missa Alchera - Mass of the Dreaming, commissioned by the Brisbane Chamber Choir and Schola Cantorum, and Sacred Kingfisher Psalms, jointly commissioned by Ars Nova Copenhagen, the Edinburgh International Festival Society, The Song Company of Sydney and Ars Musica Australis. The latter work, premiered to much acclaim at the Canberra Festival in May, was also presented by Ars Nova Copenhagen at this year's Mostly Mozart Festival in New York and later at the Edinburgh Festival. Other recent premieres also include his violin concerto Maninyas, by the Sydney Symphony, Dene Olding and Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Exile, a new work commissioned by Julian Burnside for Duo Sol.

Carl Vine
‘... Vine is a major talent just waiting to be discovered here in the Old World. 'Radically tonal' (his phrase), the music is accessible but vital, richly coloured with a true, distinctive gift for melody, and somehow fresher than most current European writing.’ - The Independent on Sunday

Carl Vine first came to prominence in Australia as a composer of music for dance, with 25 dance scores to his credit. His catalogue includes seven symphonies, seven concertos, music for film, television and theatre, electronic music and numerous chamber works. His piano music is played frequently around the world.

Since 2000 Carl has been the Artistic Director of Musica Viva Australia, the world's largest entrepreneur of chamber music. Since 2006 he has also been the Artistic Director of the Huntington Estate Music Festival, Australia's most prestigious annual chamber music event. His most recent compositions include Sonata for Piano Four Hands for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, a String Quintet for Musica Viva and the Jerusalem Quartet and Symphony No 7 for the West Australian Symphony. 2011 saw the world premiere of his Concerto for Violin, performed by esteemed violinist Dene Olding alongside the Australian Youth Orchestra and conductor Thomas Dausgaard. Carl Vine is published by Faber Music Ltd.

Peter Sculthorpe
One of the world’s greatest living composers.’ – Gramophone

Born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1929, Peter Sculthorpe is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, where he began teaching in 1964. He has taught at universities within and outside Australia, and he holds honorary doctorates from universities across the globe. His catalogue of compositions consists of well over 350 works and his compositions are regularly performed and recorded throughout the world. He has written in most musical forms and his output relates closely to the unique social climate and physical characteristics of Australia, and to the cultures of its Pacific Basin neighbours. His geographical outlook as an Australian caused him to be influenced by much of the music of Asia, and especially during the 1960s by that of Japan and Indonesia. In recent years his music has become more deeply influenced by the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island music and culture in which he has taken an active interest since his teenage years. Sculthorpe has a deep love for his country and its landscape, which he regards as sacred. One of the most constant themes in his output is the protection of Australia’s environment, as well as that of the whole planet. His preoccupation, too, with the frailty of the human condition can be heard in works such as Earth Cry (1986) and the choral Requiem (2003). The latter grew from his concern about women and children killed in the war in Iraq. While his String Quartet No 16 (2006) addresses the plight of asylum-seekers in Australia detention centres, his String Quartet No 18 is devoted to climate change. Many of these seminal works will be heard at the 2011 City of London Festival, which this year features more music by Sculthorpe than any other composer. The festival will showcase many of his key works including a wide selection of his chamber music and the London première of his Requiem – a performance that Richard Morrison (Times, 31 Dec 10) flagged up as one of the artistic highlights of 2011 The recipient of many awards, Sculthorpe regards the most significant as being chosen as one of Australia’s 100 Living Treasures (National Trust of Australia, 1997). Peter Sculthorpe is published by Faber Music Ltd.

Matthew Hindson
Hindson has amazing range. He could probably wring a concerto from the sound of a doorbell. His source material ranges from classical to Metallica to soothing melodic riffs that may have been extracted from an elevator.’ – San Francisco Chronicle

In a short space of time Matthew Hindson (born in Wollongong in 1968) has emerged as the leading Australian composer of his generation. Performed by all the major orchestras of his native country, his music is now finding a global audience. The effect of his invigorating soundworld is immediate and direct. It provokes strong reactions, frequently causing divisions between audience reaction and critical opinion. The music often displays influences of popular music styles within a classical music context, and, as a result, musical elements such as driving repeated rhythms and loud dynamic levels are typically found in many of his compositions. The clue is invariably in the title, with works such as Speed (1997), Rave-Elation (2002), Headbanger (2003), RPM (2003), Rush (1999) and Homage to Metallica delivering a high-octane experience that often leaves audiences and players alike in a state of joyous exhilaration.

It’s not all up-tempo virtuosity, though. His slow music stays long in the memory, often drawing on harmonies and lyricism derived from popular culture. The slow movements of both the Violin Concerto (2001) and In Memoriam: Amplified Cello Concerto (2000) are the emotional cores of both pieces, whilst Spirit Song from A Symphony of Modern Objects offers a take on New Age music that, whilst tongue-in-cheek, remains a haunting and evocative experience and one that pays homage to Hindson’s teacher, Peter Sculthorpe through its use of bird song.

Hindson has had particular success in attracting young audiences to classical music, and to the concert hall. Youth orchestras worldwide have succumbed to his music’s verve and the messages and fan mail on his website are testament to the broad and refreshing appeal of his musical language. Professional orchestras have also found that his music makes a fascinating and successful ingredient for education and family events and workshops. The London Philharmonic Orchestra have performed several of his short orchestral pieces in this context and, in March 2009, premiered Dangerous Creatures (2008), an orchestral work commissioned by them for their sell-out FunHarmonics series family concerts in the Royal Festival Hall.

In May 2002, the Sydney Dance Company toured Australia to much acclaim with a new 90-minute production, Ellipse, choreographed by their Artistic Director, Graeme Murphy, and danced entirely to Hindson’s concert music. Playing to packed houses it broke box-office records for the company. In 2004 they then toured it throughout the USA to further acclaim. In September 2009 Birmingham Royal Ballet unveiled a new 30-minute orchestral ballet, E=mc2, commissioned and choreographed for them by their Artistic Director, David Bintley. It was lauded by the dance press with Hindson's score garnering particular praise. The production won the prestigious South Bank Show Award for Dance in January 2010. One of his latest dance works Thinking about Forever premiered at the Sydney Festival in early 2011, a short work that embraces the large issue of sustainability. Matthew Hindson is published by Faber Music Ltd.

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