Con composers hit new highs

26 July 2011

The Con is home to countless talented performers and composers.
The Con is home to countless talented performers and composers.

Undergraduate and postgraduate composers at Sydney Conservatorium of Music continue to collect accolades for their original work from competitions held nationally and around the globe.

Two of the most recent successes come from young composers near the start of their studies. First-year student Virginia Botha is one of 15 international composers selected as part of the 15 minutes of Fame series run by Vox Novus, a US-based collective of composers, musicians and enthusiasts who collaborate to create, produce, promote new music.

Virginia's one-minute acoustic work Roundabout was selected as one of 15 pieces to be performed by clarinetist Bruce Curlette in New York on 30 October 2011.

Second-year student Anastasia Pahos is one of the two winners of the 2012 WomenSing Inspiring Youth Composition Competition, an international competition for 18 to 25 year olds, also run in the US. Anastasia's choral work is based on the poem Reflections in accordance with competition guidelines, and will be performed next year in California.

Other undergraduates, third-year Lachlan Hughes and fourth-year Owen Salome have been selected for the Halcyon First Stones Project, in which they will write music for the vocal group Halcyon with instrumental ensemble.

This is a nationally competitive program in which 15 composers from around Australia were selected as part of a yearlong development campaign, helping young composers write for established musicians at the highest professional level.

Fourth-year Sophie Spargo recently won a grant from the Foundation for Young Australians to present a concert of her music at the Sydney Opera House on 15 October, and in this concert she will be including the works of other student composers of the SCM.

Postgraduate and recent graduate composers are also meeting the high levels of success of their undergraduate peers. These include Alex Pozniak, about to graduate with his Master of Music degree, who won one of the APRA Professional Development Awards for 2011. Fellow composer and shakuhachi virtuoso Lachlan Skipworth was recently awarded a Churchill Fellowship as well as an Australia Council Skills and Arts Development Grant to work with renowned New York ensemble Bang on a Can.

Versatile jazz musician and composer Jeremy Rose has just returned from a three-week period at The Banff Centre, Canada, working with some of the biggest names in jazz, courtesy of a PPCA Award.

It is an exceptionally strong year for Con composition students, who are following in the footsteps of their teachers and predecessors: Associate Professor Hindson is writing a ballet for the Birmingham Royal Ballet for 2012, Professor Anne Boyd and Dr Michael Smetanin are both writing operas and Dr Trevor Pearce is adding the finishing touches to a Violin Concerto for premiere in September.

Dr Damien Ricketson is about to tour his ensemble, Ensemble Offspring, to Hong Kong, Macau and Shanghai, presenting his music in festivals and arts events.

Dean and Principal, Professor Kim Walker, commented: "All this good news is a great credit to Matthew and his fantastic team of composition teachers and students. Once again, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music is leading the way in creating and performing the new music of the 21st century."

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