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Graeme Denniss : Associate Artist

Music needs to have meaning and coherence, an underlying thread which connects a composition, such as melody or harmony, a rhythmic impulse or an extra-musical narrative, which allows the listener to enter the sounds and become immersed within them.

Artist website: http://www.dcomposition.com

Graeme Wright Denniss has had a varied career as a composer, as a performer on French horn and piano, and as a music educator. Born in 1954 in Broken Hill, he later attended the Queensland Conservatorium studying composition with Alan Lane, piano with Allan Fraser and French horn with Olwen Jones. He also received guidance in composing from Howard Davidson, Robert Boughen and John Gilfedder. After two decades as a performer including 14 years as principal third horn in the MSO. he returned to Brisbane where he completed his PhD in composition with Philip Bracanin at the University of Queensland.

Denniss has had his works performed and recorded by the Queensland Philharmonic and Youth Orchestras, the Melbourne and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, as well as a wide range of smaller groups and solo musicians including the Praetorius Wind Quintet, Solitaire Tuba Ensemble, Melbourne Brass Trio, Best of Brass Quintet and the Nexus Ensemble.

In 1987 he won the Dorian Le Gallienne award commission with Songs of the Priestess of the Moon for soprano, clarinet and harp. In 2011 his success in the International Music Prizes for his work Bromeliad: the Epic for French horn and piano led to his being awarded an honorary fellowship at the National Academy of Music Colorado USA.

Much of Denniss's output is for the French horn in a wide variety of combinations. Most notable are Static Blues for horn, violin and piano and Bach Paintings for solo horn. In this area he has an insider's knowledge as to the sound potentials of the instrument and a desire to enrich its repertoire.

Another significant body of work is in the field of piano duets where he has produced 4 graded volumes in his Duetica series.

Commissioned works include Velocipede for orchestral winds, commissioned by the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra, and Wrestling Kali for the Southbank Contemporary Music Ensemble, assisted by an Australia Council grant and later performed by Topology.

Compositional styles include influences from minimalism, Renaissance music, the rhythmic techniques of Stravinsksy, and various harmonic techniques including Messiaen modes and Gregorian church modes. Underlying all the techniques is the search for expressive continuity.

Graeme Denniss — current to May 2012

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
1986 Dorian le Gallienne Composition Award Recipient