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Barry Conyngham : Represented Artist

Three themes dominate my music: what it means to be Australian: my involvement with Japan: to explore the emotional.

Random Audio Sample: Water ... footsteps ... time (multiple orchestras) by Barry Conyngham, from the CD Australian composers


Photo of Barry Conyngham

Artist website: http://www.conyngham.net

Barry Conyngham was born in Sydney, Australia. He studied with Peter Sculthorpe in Australia and with Toru Takemitsu in Japan.

Combining a distinguished academic career with his life as a composer, he has spent time at many prestigious institutions around the world. From 1993-2000 he was Foundation Vice-Chancellor of Southern Cross University. During 2000-2001 he held the position of Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University, after which he turned to full-time composition. In February 2011 he commenced his present appointment as Dean of the Faculty of VCA and MCM at the University of Melbourne.

He has received numerous awards, prizes and grants for composition, including Churchill (1970), Harkness (1972-74), Australia Council (1975), and Senior Fulbright (1982) Fellowships. He has an ARIA and two Sounds Australian Critics Awards and has been twice recognised at the Paris Rostrum of Composers. In 1997 his contribution to his country was recognised when he became a Member of the Order of Australia.

Conyngham has over 70 compositions under contract with Universal Edition (London, Vienna), Boosey and Hawkes (Sydney, London) and Hal Leonard (Melbourne). There are over 30 recordings featuring his compositions - most notably a complete CD by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Performances of his works in Europe, Asia, the USA and South America indicate the international acceptance of Conyngham's music. In Australia, the Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras have all premiered new works by him since 2004.

2006 saw the premieres of Cathedral in Edinburgh, a chamber opera, Electric Lenin, commissioned by Lyndon Terracini, and To the Edge, a work for the Melbourne-based chamber orchestra, Pro Arte Australia.

In 2007, two established works, the keyboard concerto Monuments (1989) and the orchestral piece Passing (1999), were featured by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, respectively. The latter work has been recorded for release on CD by the NZSO. This year also saw the completion of his third String Quartet Bushfire Dreaming for the Modigliani String Quartet of France.

In 2008 he received the prestigious Albert Maggs Award Commission and the chamber work Dry Spell was premiered in Melbourne. Later that year, the large orchestral work Cala tuent, featuring the music of the Balearic Islands of Spain and commissioned by media company Grupo Serra, had its premiere season on three continents with conductor Geoffrey Simon. On October 10, the folk pipers Pep Toni Rubio (fabiol) and Joan Frontera (xeremies) joined with the Orquestra Simfonica de Balears for the world premiere in Palma Mallorca, Spain, with projections of specially commissioned paintings by Nil Burwiz. The following month, the Queensland Symphony gave the Australian premiere, and the Pro Arte Orchestra of Hong Kong (Music Director Ho Man Choi) performed the Asian premiere in Hong Kong with Chinese suona player Ge Li performing the Spanish folk material.

The Double Bass Concerto Kangaroo Island, featuring bassist Robert Nairn, was premiered in Boston and Pennsylvania in April 2009. His contribution to Jane Sheldon's 'The Origin Cycle', Darwin: Comparing the Eye to a Telescope, was premiered in October 2009. Major recent commissions include The Gardener of Time for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, celebrating the life of conductor Hiroyuki Iwaki and premiered in November 2011, Showboat Kalang for the Australia Ensemble, and Symphony, premiered by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2012.


Barry Conyngham — current to 2013

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2012 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Orchestral Finalist Gardener of Time
2008 Albert H Maggs Composition Award First Prize Showboat Kalang
1997 Order of Australia Member of the Order For service to music as a composer and to music education and administration
1978 Albert H Maggs Composition Award First Prize String quartet

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Showboat Kalang : for flute, clarinet, piano, two violins, viola, cello Commissioned by Albert H. Maggs Foundation for performance by Australia Ensemble.
Symphony : full orchestra (2012) "Thanks to Jane Mathews who supported the creation of this work"
Fallingwater : concerto for two bassoons, string orchestra, flute, clarinet, harp and percussion (2010) Commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Digital sheet music sample Kangaroo Island : concerto for double bass and orchestra (2009) Commissioned for Robert Nairn.
Fix : for baritone and orchestra (2004) Commissioned by Symphony Australia for performance by Sydney Symphony.
Playground : trio (2002) Commissioned by Verdehr Trio, Michigan State University.

Analysis & Media

- Article: Tribute To A Composer Brings Out The Ghosts

- Article: Contrasting Composers Committed To Local Music

- Program note: Barry Conyngham's "Fix"

- Program note: Barry Conyngham's "Monuments"

- Program note: Barry Conyngham's "Now that darkness"

- Program note: Barry Conyngham's "Passing"

- Article: Dawn of a new world symphony