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Brendan Colbert : Represented Artist

...variously described as exciting & enervating, intense, intricate, engrossing, obsessive, and joyously mercurial, Colbert's music is disinclined to surrender all its secrets at a single hearing - it both demands and rewards concentration...

Random Audio Sample: Split : for B flat clarinet & piano by Brendan Colbert, from the CD Strings

Photo of Brendan Colbert


Brendan Colbert was born in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1956. His output comprises a substantial number of works (currently 90+) and includes commissions from many significant local and international artists, ensembles, and orchestras, with concert and festival performances throughout Australia, Europe and the USA.

Having moved to Melbourne in the 1970s, he worked with various progressive-rock bands as keyboard player and songwriter, and during the 1980s took private composition lessons with Brenton Broadstock and Riccardo Formosa. After a series of early commissions (most notably from ELISION) he was selected twice for the National Orchestral Composers' School (1991 & 1995 - tutors Gerard Brophy, Richard Mills, and Carl Vine) which led to the premieres of Machinations and Jericho's Strange by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The following years saw the resolution and assimilation of disparate influences, the revision or withdrawal of several early works, and the emergence of an uncompromising individual voice.

Numerous internationally acclaimed soloists and ensembles have commissioned, performed, and/or recorded Colbert's works. Major commissions include those from Symphony Australia - for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra - and from the US flautist Linda Wetherill (both with assistance from the Australia Council), with premieres of Eirenicon in Perth (2000), and Shades of Futures Past - a concerto for flute/alto flute/piccolo and small orchestra - in New York in a version for soloist and CD(2004). Shades of Futures Past was subsequently given its first full performance in Melbourne in August 2011, with the Arcko Symphonic Project conducted by Timothy Phillips, and featuring Sarah Beggs as soloist.

A commission from Arcko's artistic director resulted in the premiere of ...like a Maelstrom - a double concerto for piano, trumpet, and small orchestra - in Melbourne in February 2015, with the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble conducted by Timothy Phillips, and featuring Peter Dumsday (piano) and Bruno Siketa (trumpet) as soloists. This premiere took place as part of a composer portrait concert, that also included the premieres of Proxima (by Silo String Quartet - Aaron Barnden, Attila Kuti, Phoebe Green & Caerwen Martin), The palest light (by Timothy Phillips - glockenspiel), and Torque (by Phoebe Green, viola).

Other recent premieres include Puck (by Johanna Selleck, Aaron Barnden, Ceridwen Davies, and Caerwen Martin in Melbourne, September 2014), Kandinsky (by Six Degrees Ensemble, featuring Melissa Doecke, Phoebe Green, & Peter Neville in Melbourne, November 2013), InQuietude (by Peter Neville, Steve Falk, Tim Phillips, Dan Richardson, cond. Johanna Selleck in Melbourne, November 2013), and Blitz (by John McMurtery in Memphis, USA, June 2013).

A number of works are available on CD, with several others pending release. Various scores are published by BMG Ariola and Red House Editions, and all other scores are available from the Australian Music Centre, or from the composer.

Brendan Colbert — current to May 2016

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Like a maelstrom : for piano, trumpet in C and chamber orchestra (2013) dedicated to Joseph Bono (1926-2013)
Digital sheet music sample Shades of futures past (flute with chamber orchestra) (2003) Commissioned by Linda Wetherill.
DisTanz : for percussion quartet (2002) Commissioned by Speak Percussion.
Sphinx : large chamber ensemble (2001) Commissioned by Elision Ensemble.
Eirenicon : for symphony orchestra (2000) Commissioned by Symphony Australia for performance by West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
Digital sheet music sample Steigung : for alto saxophone, piano, violin, viola & double bass (2000) Commissioned by Topology.

Analysis & Media

- Program note: Brendan Colbert's "Semplice"

- Program note: Brendan Colbert's "pneu·ma"