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David Holyoake : Associate Artist

Holyoake is fascinated by the transformative and transcendental qualities of music, and in uniting new music with activism

Random Audio Sample: Intimation no. 1 : for solo cello by David Holyoake, from the CD Selected works by AMC represented artists


Photo of David Holyoake

Photo: Dan Oara

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David Holyoake is an Australian/British/French composer who spent most of his life in Victoria and is now based in Belgium. He is interested in music as deep language, in the concept of duende and in using new music as a vehicle for environmental activism.

Holyoake's music is published by Reed Music and his compositions are receiving increasing recognition and performances in the UK, Australia, Belgium and beyond. His works are accessible, technically challenging, and have been described as displaying emotional depth, providing musicians with excellent material for either performance or study purposes.

His music was part of the National Gallery of Victoria's first ever sound program called 'Now Hear This' which features new music of 10 Melbourne composers as part of the National Gallery's Melbourne Now exhibition, and ran till March 2014.

He holds a Bachelor of Creative Arts and a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from the University of Melbourne. His concert works have been performed at such venues as the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, the Brisbane Convention Centre, the Royal Academy of Music London, Fairfields Hall London, Beursshouberg Brussels, and broadcast on ABC Classic FM and other media. Holyoake has also composed music in various genres for professional and amateur theatrical productions, for contemporary dance, and for television.

In 2006, he won second prize for piano composition at the Brisbane finals of the Keys Australian Music Competition, and has regularly been awarded grants from Arts Victoria, The UK Arts Council, and the Belgian Minstry of Culture to support his work. He has worked or been Commissioned by with leading ensembles such as Silo String Quartet (Australia), members of Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles (Belgium), Ensemble Mendelsohhn, and leading choreographers such as Gerard Van Dyke of Kage Physical Theatre. Holyoake is a member of the Melbourne Composers League and has works selected and performed at several of their concerts. Before moving to Brussels, Holyoake worked briefly in London, where he completed a commission from Nyctolopic (supported by the UK Arts Council) to create an original score for a 1 hour new contemporary dance-theatre work called The City Will Crumble, inspired by the philosophy and aesthetic of film noir.

Holyoake is also an environmental campaigner and climate change policy expert. He believes musicians and artists should be better organised as a force for change. In this vein, his recent commission from London based Ensemble Matisse was the composition of Extinct Birds, supported by the Arts Council of England. This was a new music creation in long form including sound recordings of extinct and endangered song birds against conteporary chamber music. By juxtaposing human song against the song of species whose destruction we have caused, Extinct Birds came with a powerful environmental message. In 2015, he was commissioned by Trio Metafora in Belgium, to compose The Message of the Hurricanes, a work for soprano, harp, flute about climate change and financial greed. This work was premiered in Brussels as part of the Origami new consonant music festival, and then taken to the Echternach international classical music festival in Luxembourg.

In 2016-2017, Holyoake spent 6 months as composer in residence at Atelier Marcel Hastir in Brussels - a leading and historical cultural centre. During that time, he engaged with the historical archives of its recently deceased founder, artist and great humanitarian Marcel Hastir, who bravely helped save many jews during the nazi occupation of Belgium.


David Holyoake — current to May 2017

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample The message of the hurricanes : the warning in the Odyssee about unleashing climate change, for soprano, flute and harp (2015) Commissioned by Trio Metafora.
Extinct birds : baritone voice with chamber ensemble (2013) Commissioned by Ensemble Matisse.
Diabolical fantasie (trios: marimba, 2 percussion) (2011) Commissioned by Nyctolopic Dance Theatre Company, London
Arabesque (trios: piano, violin, cello) (2008) Commissioned with funds from Arts Victoria 'Victoria Rocks' grant 2008 as part of 'Transfigurations' - 6 short chamber works by David Holyoake.