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Martin Rutherford : Associate Artist

I have composed almost entirely for young musicians - in the case of orchestral and band music because I believed that that there was a limited repertoire available for these groups.

Photo of Martin Rutherford

Martin Rutherford was born in Hertfordshire, England in 1940. His first compositions were produced whilst studying music at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where his mentor was Professor Ian Parrott. After a year of post-graduate teacher training at Reading University he began his teaching career as Assistant Director of Music at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Between 1967 and 1981 he was Director of Music at George Heriot's School, Edinburgh, and between 1982 and 2008 he was Director of Music at Melbourne Grammar School.

At both the Edinburgh and Melbourne schools, he took on the responsibility for the orchestral programs. The George Heriot Orchestra performed symphonies of Beethoven, the works of local professor Kenneth Leighton, and gave the world premiere of Havergal Brian's Fourth English Suite. The Melbourne Grammar Orchestra performed symphonies of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, has accompanied soloists such as Ronald Farren-Price, Leslie Howard and Liwei Qin, and has premiered works by Australian and British composers. Former members of the orchestra include Stefan Cassomenos, Liwei Qin, Kenji Fujimura and David Tong.

Out of school Rutherford has been musical director for various musical and operatic societies. For a number of years, he was the conductor of the Victorian Concert Orchestra.

All his own compositions have been written on commission, for a competition, at the request of a musical group, or with a student choir or ensemble in mind. The Australian Folk Song Suite was commissioned by the Victorian Bands League on the occasion of the Bicentennial celebrations in 1988. Three Short Pieces for Concert Band was awarded First Place in the 1985 Australian Composers' Competition organised by the Australian National Band and Orchestra Association. The Five English Songs were written at the request of the Tyneside Boys Choir. Since there is little available for school orchestras in their training stages, a number of orchestral works have been written to fill the gap.

The Melbourne University Choral Society has sung the unaccompanied Mass, the Faye Dumont Singers presented the Five Chaucerian Portraits, the Rosny Children's Choir has presented a number of works including Psalm 150, and the Eltham Concert Band performed the Australian Folksong Suite. The Melbourne Grammar School Orchestra presented a complete program of his works on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

He retired from teaching in 2008 and moved to Penang, Malaysia with his wife, Mary. He is now Musical Director of the Actors Studio Chorus and Orchestra which is based at the Penang Performing Arts Centre.


Martin Rutherford — current to July 2016

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Australian folksong suite, op. 43 : full orchestra (1991) Original version for concert band commissioned by Victorian Bands League for 1988 Australian Bicentennial.
Digital sheet music sample Australian folksong suite, op. 43 : for concert band (1988) Commissioned by Victorian Bands League for 1988 Australian Bicentennial.