Views of light installations on marine vessels moving across Sydney Harbour during Vivid Sydney 2023.

Meet the student composer behind a major Vivid Sydney light display

20 May 2024
Connecting our city through music
Sydney Conservatorium of Music student Bailey Pickles will soon have his music heard across one of the world’s most iconic settings, Sydney Harbour. The emerging composer is the musical force behind Our Connected City, a major light display at this year’s Vivid Sydney festival.
Young man dressed in white sitting in a leather chair

Bailey Pickles. Image credit: Jess Gleeson

“It's completely mind boggling to be honest,” shares Bailey about the opportunity to compose for Sydney's annual festival of light, music and ideas. Millions are expected to flock to Sydney Harbour over Vivid's 23-night run, with the festival attracting a record breaking 3.48 million visitors in 2023.

“I love Vivid, and used to go every year as a kid so the fact that they asked me to write the music this year is mind blowing.”

Bailey was approached two months ago with the opportunity to create a 10-minute looping composition to soundtrack Our Connected City.

The major installation will light up the city skyline with kaleidoscopic colour and sophisticated lighting design, connecting iconic locations including the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, Circular Quay and CBD. Visitors will be able to listen to the soundtrack live through the Cinewav app. 

Vivid's 2024 theme, 'Humanity', inspired Bailey to create a work that would bring people together. The drive to connect also extends to his creative process, with Bailey enlisting the talents of his peers, violinist Hugo Hui and guitarist Ben Swissa, to enhance the richness of the composition and share in the unique experience.  The result is a work that melds a variety of genres; Cinematic, Rock, Pop, Classical.  

“There’s something for everyone,” Bailey explains, “and it’s music you can dance to!”

I think it’s important that people can come together and celebrate such a beautiful and large-scale event, the music needs to be equally beautiful, big, and upbeat.
Bailey Pickles

From Rising Stars to striking a chord 

Bailey’s journey at the Conservatorium began at a young age, when his aptitude for music making saw him accepted into the Con’s Rising Stars program at 10 years old. Since then, he’s received training and mentorship from teachers including Alexandra Vinokurov, Kirill Monorosi, Henrique Dib and Carl Vine.  

“All of my teachers have had a significant influence on the music I write today,” he reflects.

Now a third-year Bachelor of Music (Composition) student, Bailey is balancing his degree with a burgeoning music career and a whirlwind of creative projects. In addition to his studies, Bailey juggles writing and releasing music, collaborations with artists like James Bay, Becky Hill and OneFour, and creating content for his audience of over 1.3 million TikTok followers. 

As an in-demand musican with a blossoming career, where does Bailey see himself heading after university?

“Writing the music for Vivid has made me realise just how much I loved writing film music,” he muses. “I would love to write the music for a full-scale Hollywood film one day.”

In the meantime, Bailey is focused on releasing his own music and developing his reputation as an artist. His biggest priority, however, is maintaining connections with friends who inspire him.

“As long as I keep a calendar to stay organised and make sure I leave plenty of time for hanging out with friends, I’ll be happy,” says Bailey on how he stays grounded and motivated. 

“That’s actually why I invited some of my best friends to play on this track.” he shares. “I want them to share this experience too.”

Experience Our Connected City at Circular Quay and The Rocks as part of Vivid Sydney, 6pm-11pm every evening from 24 May – 15 June 2024.

Hero image: Destination NSW

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