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15 October 2007

Symphony Australia Composer Development Program

Richard Mills Image: Richard Mills  

Composing for a professional orchestra can be a daunting experience, but with the help of Orchestra Victoria and Dr Richard Mills, a group of emerging Australian composers will soon be guided through the process from bare stave to fully orchestrated work.

Symphony Australia has offered its Composer Development Program every two years, but is now planning to make the course an annual event. Participants in 2007/2008 will work with Dr Mills and the full orchestra first, studying and listening to pieces for full orchestra, before the ensemble is broken down into its component parts. In sessions with brass, strings, percussion and so on, participants will learn about writing and arranging for every instrument of the orchestra.

Following the 2005 course, Judy Pile commented: ‘What an exciting week, even if I did feel like I had jetlag for about 10 days afterwards! It was certainly worth it. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the thrill of a live orchestra. What a great toy for a composer!’ A suggestion was made that the workshop be run over 2 weeks instead of one, which is exactly what will happen in 2007, so participants no longer have to write pieces overnight. Instead, a break in the middle of the course offers participants the opportunity to work on short pieces written for each section. Then, when they return from the break, the sections of the orchestra will workshop the pieces, discussing them with the students and offering advice.

Dr Richard Mills, whose opera The Love of the Nightingale premiered this year to critical acclaim, is one of Australia’s leading composers and was the recipient of the 2007/2008 Ian Potter Fellowship. In addition to many other roles across Australian classical music, Dr Mills is Artistic Consultant to Orchestra Victoria. Judy Pile says: ‘One thing that made the week unique and really valuable for me was Richard's ability to elucidate aspects of writing for orchestra from the multiple perspectives of conductor, orchestral musician and composer. He is so enthusiastic about the music, and it was a real pleasure to witness his relationship with the musicians.’

In July next year, participants will hear their final work (written over the months after the course finishes) premiered by Orchestra Victoria at the Iwaki Auditorium. The 2005/2006 group produced diverse pieces, indicative of the individual style and talent of each participant, yet they worked together beautifully, obviously enjoying the stimulation of working alongside other composers, as well as the thrill of working intensively with a full professional orchestra.

The cost of flights and accommodation are covered for interstate participants, and will be held at Orchestra Victoria’s premises at Albert Park. Symphony Australia is grateful to Dr Richard Mills, Orchestra Victoria, and the Australian Music Centre for helping to make this exciting program a reality for enthusiastic new composers.

Important Dates

Further Links

Justine Bashford is the Artist Development Manager of Symphony Australia


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