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Nigel Westlake : Represented Artist

The Gates of Darkness Shall Never Be Closed to the Smugglers of Light.

Random Audio Sample: Horseplay : full orchestra by Nigel Westlake, from the CD Shimmering light


Photo of Nigel Westlake

Photo: Janice Westlake

Nigel Westlake (b. 6 September 1958 in Perth, Western Australia) studied the clarinet with his father, Donald Westlake, Principal Clarinet with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1961-1979. He left school early to pursue a performance career in music. His early career as a freelance clarinetist, bass clarinetist and saxophonist was spent touring Australia and the world performing with ballet companies, a circus troupe, chamber music ensembles, fusion bands and orchestras.

His interest in composition dates from the late 1970s, when he formed a classical / jazz-rock / world-music / fusion band to play original compositions. During this time he started to receive offers to compose for radio, circus, TV & film.

In 1983 he furthered his studies of contemporary music in the Netherlands, studying bass clarinet with Harry Sparnaay and composition with Theo Leovendie.

He was appointed composer in residence for ABC Radio in 1984.

From 1987 to 1992 he was clarinetist with the Australia Ensemble, (resident at the University of New South Wales). In 1992 he was invited by guitarist John Williams to tour the UK & Australia as performer and composer with the ensemble Attacca.

As a composer for the screen, his film credits include the feature films Paper Planes, Miss Potter, Babe, Babe: Pig in the City, Children of the Revolution, and the Imax films Antarctica, Imagine, The Edge and Solarmax, among others. His television credits include documentaries, telemovies, news themes and station idents.

His compositions have earned numerous accolades, including the Gold Medal at the New York International Radio Festival, 15 APRA awards (Australasian Performing Right Association) in the screen and art music categories and the 2014 Aria award for Best Classical Album.

His music has been performed and recorded by the world's top artists, orchestras and ensembles. It has been released on Sony Classics, Varese Sarabande, Geffen, ABC Classics, Tall Poppies, Move and other labels, with numerous titles available through iTunes.

His Opus 1, Omphalo Centric Lecture (1984) for percussion quartet, has become one of the most frequently performed and recorded works internationally in the percussion repertoire.

Nigel Westlake made his conducting debut with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in 1997 and has since conducted performances and recordings of his own works with all the major symphony orchestras in Australia.

In 2004 he was awarded the HC Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship at the Australian National University.

In 2008 he founded the Smugglers of Light Foundation in memory of his son Eli, to promote cultural awareness and empowerment through education via the mediums of music and film in youth and Indigenous communities.

He holds an honorary Doctorate in Music, awarded by the University of New South Wales in 2012.

He was appointed composer in residence for the 2012 Australian Festival of Chamber Music (artistic director Piers Lane).

His tribute in music to his son, Missa Solis - Requiem for Eli, was the winner of the prestigious 2013 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize (one of Australia's richest prizes for music composition), won the 2011 Limelight Award for Best New Composition, was named Orchestral Work of the Year at the 2012 Art Music Awards, and has recently been released to critical acclaim on ABC Classics, conducted by the composer.

Compassion, a song cycle based on a collection of ancient Hebrew and Arabic texts written in collaboration with Melbourne-based vocalist and songwriter Lior, commissioned by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra won the Aria Award for Best Classical Album in 2014. Compassion is released on ABC Classics, recorded by the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House, featuring Lior, conducted by Westlake.

In 2015 he was commissed by the Melbourne Symphony to prepare a revised concert presentation of his score for the movie Babe, which he is scheduled to conduct in synchronisation with the film, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the film's release.


Nigel Westlake — current to April 2015

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Sim Shalom (tenor with string quartet) Commissioned by Julian Burnside.
Babe concert suite : A concert suite derived from the film score (2015) Commissioned by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Digital sheet music sample Babe : A concert presentation for symphony orchestra & synchronised film (2014) Commissioned by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Digital sheet music sample Paper planes : Orchestral film score (2014) Commissioned by Robert Connolly & Arena Media
Compassion : a song cycle in seven movements, based on a collection of ancient Hebrew and Arabic texts (2013) Commissioned by Sydney Symphony.
Missa Solis - Requiem for Eli : for symphony orchestra, SATB chorus & male treble solo (2010) Commissioned by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Analysis & Media

Kit: Out of the blue : music resource kit / devised by Kim Waldock.

- Article: Interesting display of contemporary work

- Article: Dawn of a new world symphony

- Document: Harbour Noise is a Fatal Distraction

- Video: Missa Solis Requiem for Eli