ABC Classic and ABC Jazz reveal recipients of $90,000 Composer Commissioning Fund

Pictured: Eric Avery

ABC Classic and ABC Jazz have announced the 15 recipients of the inaugural Composer Commissioning Fund to support the creation of new music from emerging and diverse Australian artists.

Chosen from 150 applications, all compositions will be recorded live for broadcast and commercial release via ABC Music, with each successful applicant being granted up to $6,000 to assist in the writing and recording of their work.

Out of the 15 successful composers and performers selected in the fund, more than half identify as female, with two composers identifying as First Nations, three as LBGTQIA+, and five as linguistically and culturally diverse.

The compositions will see artists explore diverse themes such as motherhood, Indigenous culture,, LGBTQIA+ experiences and the Australian bush, with traditional classical and jazz instrumentation being implemented alongside the Arabic Oud, Japanese Shō, Chinese pipa, banjo, harmonium, electrical cristal and an Indigenous choir.

ABC Classic and ABC Jazz’s acting content manager, Joe Gelonesi, celebrated the diversity of the composers who had made the cut.

“It was so pleasing to see an extraordinary range of creative responses from all over the country,” Gelonesi said.

“The diversity of talent and startling selection of music themes to be brought to audiences through the $90,000 composer commissioning fund bodes well for the future of quality classical and jazz music-making and highlights the ABC’s vital role in the discovery and development of new Australian music.”

A full list of the compositions to be financed through the Composer Commissioning Fund can be viewed below.

Brent Keogh – Six Dances for World Plucked String Quartet

Composer and world music expert Brent Keogh will create a suite of dances working with the techniques and sounds of diverse plucked string instruments. The ensemble, led by Keogh on Arabic Oud, will feature Chinese pipa-player Marjorie Li, Fiona Horbach on classical mandolin and Werner Reucker on classical guitar.

Eric Avery – Biamanga

First Nations violinist and emerging composer Eric Avery will compose a new quartet for two violins, cello and marimba, inspired by the idea of a canoe that can sail up or down stream – holding information passed down through generations. Biamanga will be performed by Avery on violin in collaboration with Ensemble Offspring artists Claire Edwardes, Veronique Serret and Blair Harris.

Titjikala Womens’ Choir – Kun-kunpa iti (Sleep Baby Sleep)

The Titjikala Womens’ Choir will work with Northern Territory singer/songwriter Nancy Bates and pianist/electrical cristal player Gabriella Smart to compose two new songs that explore intercultural dialogue and spiritual communication. The songs Kun-kunpa iti (Sleep Baby Sleep) and Kamiku Tjukurpa (Grandmother’s tjukurpa) will centre on themes that are close to the women of Titjikala but universal to the entire creative team.

Christine Pan – Music for solo harp

Emerging harpist Kate Moloney will commission versatile emerging composer Christine Pan to create a new work for harp. Pan creates colourful and dramatic scores for concert, film and game music. This project will be the ABC Classic debut for both artists.

Camille Barry and Thomas Green – Mothers’ Suite, Sweet Mothers

Violinist Camile Barry and composer-producer Thomas Green will collaborate to create a multi-movement work for violin and piano that puts the spotlight on motherhood, parenthood and partnerships, drawing strongly on Barry’s personal experiences. Barry is a member of Brisbane’s celebrated Camerata and leader of the Black Square Quartet. She will be accompanied by jazz pianist Kellee Green.

Heather Percy – Three Night Songs

This collaboration between composer Heather Percy, the Sydney Chamber Choir and the choir’s Artistic Director Sam Allchurch is three-parts: “To the Evening”, based on poems by Phyllis Wheatley, Sara Teasdale, Emma Lazarus and Christina Rossetti; the lullaby “Holy Innocents”, based on a text by Christina Rossetti; and an ode to night from an Australian perspective, based on a new text by emerging Melburnian poet Emilie Zoey Baker.

Elizabeth Younan – New work for contemporary Baroque quartet

Composer Elizabeth Younan will draw on her Lebanese heritage to create this new suite of three dances for contemporary baroque quartet Croissants & Whiskey, featuring Miranda Hill on G violone, Ryan Williams on recorder, Katie Yap on Baroque viola and Joy Lee on harpsichord.

Emily Sheppard – Woven

Tasmanian composer and musician Emily Sheppard and singer-songwriter Claire Anne Taylor will collaborate to weave classical, jazz, folk and blues modalities into compositions for a chamber ensemble. The ensemble is led by Sheppard on violin and viola and features Taylor on vocals, guitar and banjo, Michael Kieran Harvey on organ, piano and harmonium, Danny Healy on clarinets and Aurora Heinrich on double bass.

Henry Liang – Kaiko – Legend of the Mulberry Silkworm

Emerging composer-performer Henry Liang will compose and perform music for flute and shō, a free-reed bamboo mouth organ from ancient Japan. Kaiko will be a four-movement piece depicting the life cycle of the mulberry silkworm. “I have always been intrigued by silkworms,” Liang said. “Growing up in China, they were my only pets as we could not accommodate larger animals. We would go to the market and buy them from aunties off the street.

“When I was in Japan to study shō, I visited a friend who had silkworms in her home. This brought back many nostalgic childhood memories and got me thinking about how my life would have turned out if I never moved to Australia. In this piece, I hope to evoke hope and reflection in audiences, and offer them to draw parallels between the humble worm’s metamorphosis and their own life’s challenges, triumphs and important milestones.”

Meta Cohen – Queer Experience in Song

Emerging choral group Divisi Chamber Singers, led by Alexander Gorbatov along with pianist-collaborator Coady Green, will commission emerging composer Meta Cohen to write a song cycle for vocal consort and piano, in celebration of diversity in Australian LGBTIQ+ experiences. The song cycle will feature newly commissioned texts from four young Australian LGBTIQ+ poets, Leona Cohen, Savanna Wegman, Christopher Healy and Victor Hu.


New music by Omid Shayan

Exploring the intersection of jazz and Iranian music, saxophonist and composer Omid Shayan aims to harness 3000 years of musical history for new audiences. He will be joined by a jazz sextet of Melbourne instrumentalists.

Ilaria Crociani – Connecting The Dots

Eight new vocal tunes will be composed for a project lead by Ilaria Crociani, inspired by significant Australian women from history. Crociani will be joined by a cast of Australian jazz voices, including pianist Tony Gould, guitarist Geoff Hughes, and drummer Niko Schäuble.

Mark Ferguson – Where Emus Roam The Streets

Pianist Mark Ferguson will compose a new album of jazz, inspired by the Northern Flinders Ranges on Adnymathanha country in South Australia. He will lead an ensemble of three emerging female jazz musicians on varying instrumentation to explore personal, historical and natural aspects of this area of Australia.

Minnie Hill – A Journey Through Life

Composer Minnie Hill will create a five-part suite that mirrors the arc of a person’s life. With influences from Maria Schneider to Nat Bartsch, Hill will lead a sextet of Melbourne musicians in this “journey through life”, with each movement adapting and developing on what has come before.

Rafael Karlen – Eucalyptus Treeo

Saxophonist and composer Rafael Karlen will collaborate with Hannah James and Steve Barry for a project that explores their shared love of the Australian bush. Inspired by the changing histories of Australian National Parks, the group will bring nine new compositions to audiences, utilising the trio format of saxophone, bass and piano.

Comment Form

Your email address will not be published.

Recent comments (0)
Post new comment


See all