Composition

Composing music is my passion. I spend much of my time creating sounds for all manner of groups and situations. I like to write for myself and the people I work with, or for my students, either solo pieces or chamber groups or large ensembles such as string or full orchestras. Writing for a commission is of course the best, and I enjoy the challenge of having set parameters and deadlines to work within.

I have been interested in composing since I was in secondary school, but in those days, the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, there was no school curriculum, so my early attempts were self taught and not very successful. I did do some arranging for school groups and my A Capella choir arrangements of “Ruby Tuesday” and “California Dreaming” were well received.

At the Queensland Conservatorium I studied Composition with Alan Lane, also receiving guidance from Howard Davidson and Robert Boughen. I met with moderate success in the ASME Young Composer’s Competition, getting a Highly Commended for my “Scherzo for Two Pianos”, no doubt partly because of the excellent performance by Piers lane and Jenni Fleming.

My first post-graduate thesis, a composition folio entitled The Horn in Ensemble, received a high distinction, and the major work from the folio, “Cellismas”, was later performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. This thesis was the first expression of one of my goals as a composer, which is to enrich the repertoire for the French Horn. Comparing the depth of the Piano repertoire with the scanty range of Horn music, made me realise that there was a much greater need for new music for that instrument.

Over the last 30 years my compositions have been performed and recorded by a large number of professional and student orchestras and ensembles, including the Melbourne and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, the Queensland Youth and Philharmonic Orchestras, the Townsville Youth Orchestra, the Philharmonia of Melbourne, the Solitaire Tuba Ensemble, The Praetorius Wind Quintet and the Nexus Ensemble.

(See List of Compositions with their first performance for more details)

In 1987 I won the Dorian leGallienne award with “Songs of the Priestess of the Moon”, and in 2001 received an Australia Council grant for “Wrestling Kali”, performed by Brisbane group Topology at the Powerhouse.

Recent premieres include the first 2 movements of my new Oboe Concerto, performed by Julia Cheong with the Corda Spiritus Chamber Orchestra, and “Songs of the Ming Dynasty”, sung by Joanna Fairs-Wu at the 4MBS Festival of Classics, both conducted by Stephen Wu.

My biggest success so far was being declared a winner in the International Music Prizes Competition, Advanced section, with my work for Horn and Piano entitled “Bromeliad: the Epic”.

For this I was awarded an honorary Fellowship of the National Academy of Music Colorado, and now have more letters after my name: honFNAM.

This work was subsequently orchestrated for String Orchestra accompaniment and was performed at the 4MBS Festival in 2011.