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Michael Hannan : Represented Artist

For me composing is a form of listening. I listen to the sounds of nature, of technology, of other music makers and of my own imagination and then create mixes from all these sources.

Random Audio Sample: Mood variations : for piano by Michael Hannan, from the CD little variation

Photo of Michael Hannan

Photo: Leonie Lane

Michael Hannan (b. 1949) is a composer, performer and music researcher based in Nimbin in Northern New South Wales. He studied musicology at the University of Sydney and was awarded a PhD in 1979. In 1980 he undertook postgraduate studies in composition with Peter Sculthorpe, with whom he had also worked as an assistant from 1969-1971 and sporadically throughout the 1970s. In 1982 his critical biography Peter Sculthorpe: His Music and Ideas 1929-1979 was published by University of Queensland Press. The following year he received a Fulbright Postdoctoral Award which enabled him to work for a year in the Program in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. While at UCLA Hannan also studied composition with Elaine Barkin.

Michael Hannan has written over seventy works for concert hall, stage and screen, including experimental works and works involving improvisation. He issued a CD of his experimental piano interior works, Terrains, on Tall Poppies Records (2000) and he composed the music and many of the soundscapes for the Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA)'s major music theatre production, The Flood (2004).

The main inspiration for Hannan's work are the sounds of nature, particularly birdcalls, and he has written dozens of pieces, including the monumental Resonances I-IV (1987-1997), that employ transcriptions of the calls of the pied butcherbird and other Australian songbirds. As a composer Hannan is primarily interested in the complexities of natural sounds and complex combinations of instrumental timbres. Central to his creative practice is the notion of comprovisation, where musical materials improvised by him (or others under his direction) are then used to construct musical works using digital editing software.

His creative practice extends to garden design and the creation of outdoor sonic environments. The three-acre garden he developed with his partner Sue Boardman is his largest work and has been featured in Australia's Open Garden Scheme.

Michael Hannan is Professor of Contemporary Music at Southern Cross University. He was a member of the Music Fund of the Australia Council from 1999 to 2002, and Chair of the Music Council of Australia from 2003 to 2004. and Chair of the ISME Commission for the Education of the Professional Musician from 2004 to 2006. He is the author of The Australian Guide to Careers in Music (UNSW Press, 2003).

Biography provided by the composer — current to January 2007

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Resonances III : three movements for solo piano (1992) Commissioned by Sally Mays.
Bracefell's story : for baritone and piano (1990) Commissioned by Lyndon Terracini.
Garland piece : for large ensemble (1979) Written by invitation of the Seymour Group to celebrate the 50th birthday of Peter Sculthorpe