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31 May 2012

Supporting emerging composers in Australia

Industry forum at Aurora Festival of Living Music 2012

Aurora Festival - Casula Powerhouse, Western Sydney Image: Aurora Festival - Casula Powerhouse, Western Sydney  

The topic of supporting emerging artists was explored by a panel of leaders in the new music community as part of the Aurora Festival of Living Music in Western Sydney in early May 2012.

Moderated by the Australian Music Centre's CEO John Davis, who is also the President of the International Society for Contemporary Music, the diverse panel brought together expertise from a number of different angles, including ensembles, individuals and organisations active in commissioning and programming work by emerging composers, the perspectives of publishers, the viewpoint from the orchestral world, as well as the experiences of composers themselves.

The panel included James Nightingale (New Music Network and Continuum Sax), Jenny Duck-Chong (Halcyon), Julie Simonds (Music Sales and 2MBS-FM), Kate Lidbetter (Symphony Services International) and Nicholas Vines (AMC Represented Composer and Director of Music at Sydney Grammar).

For the purpose of the forum, the panel worked with a concept of emerging that centred mostly around artists at the beginning of their career or starting out creatively, although it was acknowledged that there is a lot of scope and opportunity beyond this around the concept of 'emerging'. It was generally agreed that there are a lot of opportunities for emerging artists in Australia, including in the orchestral world, where there is a need for emerging composers to develop the specific skills for writing for orchestras in order to take advantage of these opportunities. The panel also highlighted the importance for composers in having the right support materials when pursuing these opportunities, such as recordings and networks in the industry willing to advocate for them.

The need for composers to choose opportunities and collaborations that were suited to them was also highlighted, with Duck-Chong suggesting that it was important for artists to start to create connections with ensembles, performers or organisations with whom they could see a connection to their work.

On the road toward establishing a career as a composer, it was stressed that there are a number of opportunities for ambitious creators, and that some of the vital success factors are hard work, persistence and careful selection of the right opportunities to pursue - not all opportunities are right for all composers. The most important thing for emerging composers to remember being that a 'no' doesn't mean wasted time and energy - no can just mean 'not right now' - engaging in any relevant opportunity means new connections and new exposure for work that builds foundations for future work and collaborations.

Watch the forum video (38 minutes).

Further links

From opera to noise: Aurora Festival 2012 (Resonate article)
Aurora Festival - http://www.auroranewmusic.com.au
RealTime 109 - extensive online coverage of Aurora events

Subjects discussed by this article:

Janine Marshman is the AMC's Online Business Manager. She has a background spanning business and marketing and the performing arts: she has a Master of Commerce, majoring in marketing, and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in music performance, both completed at the University of Sydney.


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