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Christine McCombe : Represented Artist

'I think music should aspire to create a space for contemplation. Every piece of music I write or work that I create strives for this in different ways but a common thread is the strangeness and beauty of human experience...'

Random Audio Sample: Threefold : three pieces for three clarinets by Christine McCombe, from the CD Tilting at infinity

Photo of Christine McCombe

Photo: Bridget Elliot

Christine McCombe initially studied composition in Australia, at the University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of Arts with Peter Tahourdin, Barry Connyngham and Mark Pollard. In 1997 she was awarded several scholarships and awards that enabled her to pursue her compositional studies in the UK where she completed an MMus at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (1998), studying with James MacMillan and a PhD in composition (2003) at the University of Edinburgh.

McCombe returned to Australia in 1997 to take up a post as lecturer in Music at Queensland University of Technology. In 2005 she returned to Melbourne where she is currently focussing on new compositional projects and motherhood.

Many of McCombe's compositions have been performed by leading ensembles and soloists in Australia, Europe and the US, including Topology ensemble, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and soloists from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

She was commissioned by The Australia Ensemble to compose a new work Night Alchemy, which was premiered in September 2001 in Sydney and later selected for the Australian submission of the 2002 Paris Rostrum. Her piano trio Anregung, a commission from Musica Viva Australia, was premiered by the Vienna Piano Trio during their Australian tour in 2000 and later performed at the Vienna Musikverein. Other commissions include works for the Dunedin Consort (Edinburgh), The University of Strathclyde Chorus (Glasgow) and the Koorie Heritage Trust (Melbourne).

Several of her compositions have been released on CD by leading performers including Michael Kieran Harvey, Ian Holtham, Ken Murray and Jeannie Marsh and the Dunedin Consort (UK).

As a composer, McCombe's main focus is the way in which music is experienced in time and space and this is often reflected in an active engagement with the performance space or a specific site. In general, her aim is to create music and sound which engages the listener on many different levels and seeks to find alternative ways of experiencing music outside of a traditional concert-going setting. This is reflected in an increased focus on installation and video performance in her work.

Recent public performances include an ambitious video performance work The Fastness of Forgetting by Topology ensemble in Brisbane (premiered in October 2004) and a cross media installation collaboration The space between memory and skin with Shaaron Boughen and Diane Smith at The Block, QUT, in March 2005.

McCombe says "I think music should aspire to create a space for contemplation. Every piece of music I write or work that I create strives for this in different ways but a common thread is the strangeness and beauty of human experience."

Biography provided by the composer — current to November 2006

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
1995 Dorian le Gallienne Composition Award Recipient Between silence and rage

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
to the wider ocean : for mezzo-soprano, violin, cello and piano (2015) Commissioned for the 2015 Salford Sonic Fusion Festival (UK)
A lexicon of dreams : for SATB choir (2013) Commissioned by Douglas Lawrence for performance by Australian Chamber Choir.
three kinds of silence : for piano trio (2013) Commissioned by Artisan Trio.
Epic : for SATB choir (2011) Commissioned by Australian Chamber Choir.
Digital sheet music sample The fastness of forgetting : for chamber ensemble, sound-scape and video projection (2004) Commisssioned as part of an Early Career Research Grant in 2003-2004
Solstice stone : for soprano and harp (2002) Commissioned for 'The People's Mass', Dunedin Consort UK