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Nicholas Vines : Represented Artist

At their most effective, my works evoke a consciously naïve idealism scoured, for better or worse, by the realities of the world...

Random Audio Sample: Economy of wax : for soprano, flute/piccolo, viola and harp by Nicholas Vines, from the CD Torrid nature scenes

Photo of Nicholas Vines


Nicholas Vines (b.1976, Sydney) is an Australian composer particularly active in the US and at home. Described as 'compellingly original' (Boston Phoenix), 'full, extravagant and wild' (Sydney Morning Herald), and 'kitchen-sink expressionism; edgy, bright and entertaining as hell' (NewMusicBox), his music has been performed in Australia, North America, the UK, Europe and Japan.

Interpreters of Vines's work cover the professional, specialist and amateur gamut, including Alarm Will Sound, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Radius Ensemble, Ensemble Offspring, the Australian Voices, the Schola Cantorum Gedanesis Chamber Choir, the BT Scottish Ensemble, Eliot Gattegno , Liwei Qin, and ensembles of Sydney Grammar School and MLC School, Burwood. He has received commissions from established organisations around the world, such as the Callithumpian Consort, Firebird Ensemble, Guerilla Opera, Primary Duo, ChamberMade Opera, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, 2MBS FM Radio (Sydney), Ars Musica Australis, the Australia Council, Duo Young Music, mmm…, Faber Music and the Tait Memorial Trust.

Recognition for Vines's work includes 2011 and 2012 Australasian Performing Right Association/Australian Music Centre Art Music Awards for (respectively) Jane Sheldon's renditions of Economy of Wax and Zubin Kanga's of Uncanny Valley, runner-up in the 2010 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute for Three Scenes from Suburbia, a semi-finals position in the 2009 Opera Vista Competition (Houston) for The Sepulchre of Love, honourable mention in the 2006 Salvatore Martirano Memorial International Composition Competition (USA) for Dolmen of New Albion, 2nd Prize in the 'Musica Sacra 2005' International Composers Competition (Poland) for Ave Generosa, the 1998 Australian Voices Young Composer Award for the choral work The Lion's County, and the 1996 Bernard Shore Composition Award (UK) for The Underside Revealed. In the 2010 summer season, he was a Fellow in Composition at the Tanglewood Music Center.

One piece of Vines's, Firestick, is published by Faber Music (London), several others have been selected for the Australian Composers Online Project and Alexander Street Press' Classical Scores Library, and the remainder are available through the Australian Music Centre. A CD of Vines's compositions, Torrid Nature Scenes, featuring The Butcher of Brisbane, Economy of Wax & Torrid Nature Scene performed by the Callithumpian Consort, comes out on Navona Records in 2013. Other pending releases include Zubin Kanga performing Uncanny Valley on Move Records and the Ehsgee Collective's rendition of Der Alte on Motorik.

The Australian Music Centre selected his works as official submissions to the ISCM World Music Days for two years (2006, 2007). He has been the New Works Program Coordinator for New England Conservatory's Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice since 2007.

Renditions of Vines's work over recent years have included Les Effaceurs by Maarten Stagier (Boston, San Francisco, Brussels), Of Rhytonous Things by Harmonious Blacksmith (DC), Uncanny Valley by Zubin Kanga (Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Canberra), Contra Benzoid by the Sydney Grammar Senior Cello Ensmble, Economy of Wax by Firebird Ensemble, the Tanglewood Fromm Players and Callithumpian Consort (Harvard, Stanford, Halifax, Canberra, Sydney, Tanglewood, NEC), Obsidian Magnified by Radius Ensemble, mmm… and Callithumpian Consort (Tokyo, Boston), Loose, Wet, Perforated by Guerilla Opera (Boston), Golden Callistemon by Duo Young Music and Callithumpian Consort (Munich, Boston), Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock by WordSong (Boston), Firestick by Callithumpian Consort (NEC), Torrid Nature Scene by Firebird Ensemble, Halcyon and Callithumpian Consort (NYC, Boston, Sydney), Three Scenes from Suburbia by the Sydney Symphony Sinfonia and Dies Irae by the Sydney Philharmonia Choir and Orchestra.

Vines studied at the University of Sydney with Peter Sculthorpe, Ross Edwards and Anne Boyd, receiving a BMus with first class honours and the university medal, and an MMus with high distinction. During the latter, he was supported by the AE and FAQ Stephens Scholarship, bestowed by the University on only one student for the duration of postgraduate study.

He completed the AM/PhD programme in composition at Harvard University in 2007, having been awarded the Sir Robert Gordon Menzies Scholarship for 2001-2002, as well as various Harvard fellowships, including a GSAS Dissertation Completion Grant (2006). During his time there, he worked with Professors Bernard Rands, Mario Davidovsky, Elliott Gyger, Julian Anderson, David Lewin and Christopher Hasty, and Visiting Professors Lee Hyla, Judith Weir, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Magnus Lindberg, Brian Ferneyhough and Helmut Lachenmann.

Formerly a lecturer on music at Harvard University and an adjunct professor in music theory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Vines has also worked in various capacities at Wellesley College, the University of Sydney and the Australian International Conservatorium. He recently took up the position of Artistic Director of Music at Sydney Grammar School. Vines is regularly involved in operas, choirs and choral productions as a bass-baritone and countertenor.

Nicholas Vines — current to October 2012

Studied with

Anne Boyd (1995)

Ross Edwards (1995)

Peter Sculthorpe (1995)

Elliott Gyger (2001)


Mentored by

Richard Gill


Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Dysart's changelings : piano quartet (2014) Commissioned by Australia Piano Quartet.
Digital sheet music sample Ave verum : for SSA choir (2010) Commissioned by MLC School (Sydney).
Digital sheet music sample Disillusionment of ten o'clock : for baritone and pianoforte (2010) Commissioned by WordSong (Musical group).
Digital sheet music sample Pro Homine : for string orchestra (2010) Commissioned by MLC School (Sydney).
Digital sheet music sample Golden callistemon : for flute and prepared pianoforte (2009) Commissioned as part of Project 'Metamorphoses'.
Economy of wax : for soprano, flute/piccolo, viola and harp (2009) Commissioned as part of The Origin Cycle