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Geoffrey D'Ombrain : Associate Artist

Random Audio Sample: Introspections (saxophone with pre-recorded sound) by Geoffrey D'Ombrain, from the CD art of Peter Clinch.

Photo of Geoffrey D'Ombrain

Geoffrey D'Ombrain was born in Melbourne on 17 May, 1931. After writing a childhood symphony, Sir Bernard Heinze suggested that he study harmony, so he began lessons in theory and composition with Peter Andry, also continuing with flute. Peter was later to become the International Director of EMI, London.

He studied music at Melbourne University, where he completed a B.Mus. in performing and teaching (1953), Dip.Ed. (1954), B.Ed. (1960), M.Mus.(1975). His Masters thesis was titled The Concept of the Electronic Music Studio, North America, 1972. Having gained the reputation as a leading music educator, in 1965 he became Music Method Lecturer at Melbourne University. In 1968 he was appointed Music Lecturer at Secondary Teachers' College in Melbourne, leading to the position of head of the Music Department at Melbourne State College (1974-1982). Here he was able to develop a course with the focus on music as a creative medium. The course was characterized by improvisation workshops, electronic music composition, contemporary music studies and collaboration with other arts areas.

D'Ombrain was awarded the Spivakovski prize for composition in 1985 for, Under the Trees (a song cycle), poetry by Keith Harrison. In 2003 he received an Arts Victoria grant for a double CD Geoffrey d’Ombrain, Electronic Music (1978-1991) (d’Em Recordings CD0012).

Compositional ideas of John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio and Pierre Boulez have been major influences, but the driving force has been collaboration with poets, dancers, sculptors, painters and dramatists. The electronic work, Five Reflections for a Painter (1978) and Sonata No. 2 for flute and piano (2001-2), best represent his work.

Commissioners include: AVEC, film score for Lost in the Bush (1970); Brussels Saxophone Quartet, Composition for Saxophone and Prepared Tape (1978); Telecom/Moomba, Let Your Fingers do the Walking, score for sound sculpture (1981); the Australian Contemporary Dance Cooperative, for the ballet Birds (1983); Salamanca Arts Festival, Sands of Time (1983); ABC, electronic sound score for The Man Who Loves Frogs (1985). Between 1985 and 2002, primary schools and colleges both in Australia and USA commissioned 68 music theatre works. These works were performed under the composer's direction.

A passion for the sea, has led him to boat building and sailing. He loves singing at maritime festivals, but also plays the roles of The Troubadour, Bob the Swagman and The Pied Piper. These performances include original pieces, but mainly indulge his life-long love of folk songs and the playing of diverse musical instruments.

Biography provided by the composer