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MODART was The Song Company's biennial young composer forum, supported by the Australian Music Centre and ABC Classic FM. MODART was designed to give young composers the opportunity to develop new vocal work in close collaboration with the singers of the ensemble and their then director, Roland Peelman.


MODART13 was the 6th edition of this composer development program, originally initiated by The Song Company and the AMC.

Five emerging composers from Australia and three from overseas were selected to participate in MODART13. Australian participants Michael Bakrnčev, Adam Cook, Owen Salome, Dylan Sheridan and Marcus Whale were joined by Daniel Lo from Hong Kong, Yeo Chow from Malaysia and Celeste Oram from New Zealand.

The first stage of MODART13 took place in Sydney on 25-28 February 2013 - the composers took part in a series of workshops, including having some individual time with the members of The Song Company, to try out ideas and make adjustments to existing work. In addition to the singers and Roland Peelman, composer Nicholas Vines was present as composer-mentor.

> MODART13 final concerts: 27 September at 7pm (Sydney Grammar School) and 28 September at 3pm (Centre for Christianity, Barton ACT)


Michael Bakrnchev

Michael Bakrnčev

Queensland, Australia / Macedonia

Oj More Vino for 6 voices
Gledaj me, mome ubava for soprano and bass
Tri Godini se Libejme for 6 voices
Promises and Instructions for 3 female voices

Michael Bakrnčev (b. 1989) is an Australian contemporary classical composer, conductor and educator. He is currently finalising his Honours degree at the Queensland Conservatorium under the supervision of Gerard Brophy. His music has been performed internationally in Canada, USA, Austria, Scotland, Serbia, Macedonia (Days of Macedonian Music Festival 2012, Skopje), and in Australia in Melbourne, Adelaide (as part of the Australian Youth Orchestra's National Music Camp) and Brisbane (Encounters Music Festival 2010 and Crossbows Chamber Music Festival 2012, among others). In 2012, Michael was named the youngest member of the Association of Composers from Macedonia (SOKOM).

His Sonatina for tuba and piano was recently performed by Thomas Allely at the World Tuba and Euphonium Conference (ITEC) in Linz, Austria. His Saxophone Quartet received its international debut at the Sixteenth World Saxophone Congress, Scotland by the Barega Saxophone Quartet. Along with music by eight other Brisbane composers, Michael’s piece Dreaming of an Imaginary Country (inspired by a quote by Debussy) will be featured on an album titled Grey St. on the Dare CD Project label.

Michael is the winner of several awards, including the Music Teachers' Association of Queensland Composition Competition (2011), the June Fox Patron Award (2011), Vox Novus, 15 Minutes of Fame prize (New York 2011) and the prestigious Adolph Spivakovsky Scholarship (VCA/Melbourne University) for Composition of Music in 2012.

> Read Michael's MODART diary on Resonate

Adam Cook

Adam Cook

ACT, Australia

Work: The Last Days of Arthur Pym (Part I & Part II) for six singers
Text: Edgar Allan Poe

Adam Cook (b. 1988) started playing the piano at a young age and continued through high school, learning both classical and jazz. At the age of 16, as a scholarship student, he moved straight on to study composition at the University of Western Australia, under Prof. Roger Smalley. He also received private lessons in classical piano from Anna Sleptsova. After playing for Larry Sitsky, Professor Emeritus at the ANU School of Music, Adam was invited to move to Canberra and complete a degree in piano performance. In 2007, he was invited to participate in one year of private study in France with Emeritus Professor of the University of Ottawa, Jean-Paul Sevilla, with whom he completed a Diplôme d'Excellence en Musique. Returning from this trip, Adam completed his Bachelor of Music in piano and French, and is currently enrolled at the ANU in an Honours degree in piano. As part of the degree, he premiered Sitsky's Sonata No. 2 for piano, composed for Adam in 2010.

Adam Cook composes regularly for his own ensemble. The Monotremes began as a keyboard duo but later evolved into trio with drums, then five-piece with electric bassoon and bass. Bassoon was replaced by trumpet, and in its current manifestation the band has both a trumpet and baritone saxophone. Adam's compositions experiment with rapidly shifting styles and genres, and are influenced by Adam's favourite composers, including Bach, Shostakovich, Monk and Zappa. The band's first album is currently in production.


Owen Salome

Owen Salome

New South Wales, Australia

Work: Bluebeard’s Egg for three female voices
Text: Margaret Atwood

Owen Salome's (b. 1990) experience as a musician is diverse. As a composer, Owen Salome (b. 1990) has worked with a number of professional ensembles. As part of Chronology Arts’ 2012 Lyrebird project, he collaborated with the poet Phillip Porter to create a new work for Halcyon in conjunction with members of Chronology Arts. The product of this collaboration, a trio for mezzo-soprano, flute and cello, titled Carthusian Silence, was performed by Halcyon and Chronology Arts at a series of concerts in August 2012. In 2011, he had taken part in the ensemble's Emerging Artists Program, and Carthusian Silence was the third piece by Owen's performed by the ensemble.

In 2011, working with Speak Percussion as a part of their 2010-2011 Emerging Artists Program, Owen composed the percussion quartet Ensō. The work takes its inspiration from the Japanese Zen aesthetic, and some of the ideas explored in Ensō were realised more fully in Differentiation (for the Sydney Conservatorium Saxophone Ensemble) and In the Kitchen (for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra). Owen’s recent short work Platypus was commissioned by Susanna Bishop and Emily-Rose Šarkova for their concert 'Tales from five lands'.

As sound designer, composer and sole-performing musician in Semicolonbackslash’s production Landing Owen helped co-write an award-winning show that toured at the 2010 Sydney and Melbourne fringe festivals. Owen’s other performance experience includes performances with ‘continental boogie’ quintet My Sauce Good, arranging and performing with the modern tango quintet Tangalo, and arranging, composing and performing as a part of the gypsy-band Doc Jones and the Lechery Orchestra.

Owen was the winner of the 2007 Sibelius Young Composers Award for his piece Deep Fish, performed by Ensemble Offspring.

> Read Owen's MODART diary on Resonate blog


Dylan Sheridan

Dylan Sheridan

Tasmania, Australia

Three Haiku
La Musica Callada

Text: San Juan de la Cruz

Dylan Sheridan (b. 1984) is a composer and sound artist from Tasmania, Australia. In 2011 he completed his Master’s degree at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, USA, where he studied composition with Joel Hoffman and Michael Fiday. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, where he studied with Douglas Knehans and Don Kay.

Throughout 2012 Dylan has been engaged in a mentorship with IHOS Opera through the Australia Council for the Arts’ Jump mentoring program. As part of this mentorship he is currently writing a chamber opera which will be performed at the 2013 MONA FOMA festival in Tasmania. In 2013, Dylan will begin residencies and mentorship programs with Aphids and ChamberMade Opera.

Dylan’s work ranges from concert music to chamber opera and sound installation. His music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles and musicians including the Café moMus contemporary music ensemble (USA), SQ22 Saxophone Quartet (Australia) and the Hobart Chamber Orchestra. He has also written for and presented at festivals including MONA FOMA and Music11 (Switzerland) where his work was awarded an honourable mention.

Dylan has been supported by grants and scholarships from Australia Council for the Arts’ ArtStart grant, a JUMP mentorship grant, and a Tas Regional Arts Quick Response grant, as well as a graduate scholarship from the University of Cincinnati.

> Read Dylan's MODART diary on Resonate blog


Marcus Whale

Marcus Whale

New South Wales, Australia

Work: My Body is a Cage for six singers and three dictaphones

Marcus Whale (b. 1990) is a Sydney-based composer and musician. His compositions have been performed by Synergy Percussion, Zubin Kanga, Ensemble Offspring, Chronology Arts and Volta Collective. As a solo artist, and under the name Scissor Lock, he has produced music using his voice and lo-fi electronics densely reconfigured by laptop processing, with releases on New Weird Australia’s New Editions label, HellosQuare recordings, Sound&Fury, and others.

An avid collaborator, he has produced live and recorded works with video artist Michael Salerno, dancers Caterina Mocciola and Ashley Macqueen, performance artist Ivan Cheng, and musicians Thomas William, Guerre and Oscar Slorach-Thorn. As an improviser on electronics he has performed in groups such as the Splinter Orchestra. He is also a member of electronic R&B duo Collarbones with Adelaide’s Travis Cook, touring extensively and releasing two albums on Two Bright Lakes/Remote Control in 2011/2012.

Under these guises, Marcus has performed and presented work at events including Sydney Festival (2012), Brisbane Festival (2012), the NOW Now Festival (2011), Time Machine Festival (2012), Sydney Fringe Festival (2012), Sound Summit (2010-2011) and Electrofringe (2010).

Marcus Whale writes about his work:

'"My Body Is A Cage" is the title of the feature episode that introduces the female-to-male transgender character Adam Torres to the 10th season of Degrassi: The Next Generation. Adam Torres is among the first transgender characters to grace a major TV show, and spent three and a half seasons going through a number of tribulations. In this work, some of Adam Torres’s dialogue is used, as the singers blend within each others’ pitch ranges, creating a meeting point between dualised gender roles within the ensemble. The work is written in solidarity with the many people for whom Adam Torres provided a reflection on an experience which is still marginalised by society.'

Yeo Chow Shern

Yeo Chow


Work: Poing! for six voices

Malacca-born Yeo Chow Shern (b. 1988) read music at the Malaysian Institute of Art, Peabody Institute of Music and Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Singapore. His principal composition teachers include Prof. Ho Chee Kong, Kevin Puts, Yuan Leow Yunn. He has also worked with composers Chong Kee Yong, Branko Stark and Cecilia Kim in masterclasses.

One of his choral works The Sound of Portugese Malacca has selected by Coro de Camara de Lisboa (Lisbon Chamber Choir, Portugal) for their project Asian Music, and recorded for a CD release.

The title for his work Poing is taken from the rhyme 'la ta - li lat ta - li tam poing!' from a children's game 'paper, scissors and stone' . The piece can be seen as a colourful scene in Chow Shern’s hometown Melaka where ancient Portuguese elements still mix with a rich array of Chinese and Malay traditions.


Daniel Lo

Daniel Lo

Hong Kong, China

Work: Shall I call it merely grief? for 6 voices
Text: Liqingzhao

Daniel Lo Ting-cheung (b.1986) received his MPhil (Music Composition) in 2012 under the supervision of Dr Chan Hing‐yan at the University of Hong Kong where he also received his BA (Music) degree with first class honours. He is currently a PhD (Composition) candidate at the University of York under the supervision of Professor William Brooks, supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Music and Dance Fund.

Lo has received formal instruction for piano and percussion since childhood, and has been the recipient of various awards and scholarships, including first prizes in the New Generation 2010, organised by the Hong Kong Composers’ Guild, the 2010‐2011 Migratory Journeys International Composition Competition (Sojourner’s Song for pipa, flute, double bass, piano and two percussion), the 2012 MeA Competition Contest in Rome, Italy (Laura for narrator and chamber orchestra). In 2010, Lo was invited to the first annual International Antonín Dvořák Composition Competition at Prague on the merit of his work Galactic Gala for piano, drum set and gamelan gong kebyar (3rd prize and the chamber music prize). Lo's recent work Night and Day for solo percussion and string orchestra was awarded the 2nd prize in the Sofia 2012 International Composition Competition.

Daniel Lo takes an interest in a wide spectrum of music, ranging from Renaissance to modern jazz, from the works of Gesualdo to those of Chick Corea. His works have been performed by world-renowned musicians and ensembles such as players from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Bang-on-a-Can, and Orchestra of Our Time (USA), Piccolo Orchestra (Italy), Internationale Ensemble Modern Akademie (Germany), Sofia Soloists (Bulgaria), Hong Kong Kamerata, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, pianist Mary Wu and pipa master Yang Wei.


Celeste Oram

Celeste Oram

Work: Deluge for six voices
Text: various sources

Celeste Oram was born in Manhattan, grew up in London, and has lived in Auckland since the age of seven. In 2012 she completed a BMus(Hons) BA with first class honours at the University of Auckland, majoring in composition, musicology, German and drama. 

As a composer, flautist, singer, actor, and director, Celeste seeks out places where diverse performing arts disciplines collide. Her works have been performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Intrepid Music Project, and broadcast nationally in New Zealand. In May 2011, her chamber opera The Electrical Eclipse, with libretto by Claire Bracegirdle, was premiered at the University of Auckland. 

Celeste has a particular interest in composing for theatre, and has scored songs and incidental music for productions ranging from Euripidean tragicomedy, to German-language theatre, and to various Shakespeare playsShe has received awards from the Douglas Lilburn Trust in both composition and performance, the Douglas Mews composition prize, and a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst to study in Leipzig. 

Celeste Oram writes about her work:

'The libretto of this work is compiled from a number of text sources. Chiefly, there are three strands of text: mythological, reportage, and statistical. The mythological text (which is set as sung text) is derived from three main sources, which record different versions of the Welsh myth of 'Cantref y Gwaelod' (the Lowland Hundred): 1) The Black Book of Carmathen, a thirteenth-century Welsh poetic manuscript, 2) The Mabinogion, a fourteenth-century Welsh poetic manuscript and 3) ‘A Song of Gwythno Garanhir’ from Thomas Love Peacock’s Victorian ballad The Misfortunes of Elphin.'

'The lost land of the Lowland Hundred, or the prosperous kingdom of Gwyddno, is fabled to be sunken beneath the sea in what is now Cardigan Bay (there is very little extant physical evidence for this claim, besides the remains of a petrified forest which can be seen at low tide near the fishing village of Borth). While there are many variations of the myth, the principal narrative is of the prince Seithenyn, a drunkard and libertine, whose negligence in closing the sluice gates during a storm results in the kingdom being irrecoverably flooded. The reportage text (which is spoken) is comprised of excerpts from weather forecasts, news coverage, and eyewitness accounts of remarkably heavy flooding in Wales over the weekend of 8-10 June, 2012. These texts have been sourced from print articles and video newsreels (BBC, The Independent, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Cambrian News for Aberystwyth, Channel Four), and statements issued by Dyfed Powys Police and Environment Agency Wales. The statistical data has been sourced from Environment Agency Wales records. I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Claire Bracegirdle in researching and compiling the texts. I would also like to acknowledge the dramaturgical and poetic advice of Chris Holdaway.'

> Read Celeste's MODART diary on Resonate blog


The Song Company

Established in 1984, The Song Company’s repertoire covers music from the 10th century to the present day and is unique in its diversity. Directed by Roland Peelman, the group combines the most ancient of singing traditions with the most daring contemporary vocals. Committed to excellence and fresh ways of presenting music, The Song Company enjoys a reputation as one of the most outstanding vocal ensembles in the world. The Song Company is well-known for their recordings, broad educational programs, innovative theatrical work, cabaret and extensive national and international touring.

> Read more about The Song Company


For more information about the MODART composer development project, contact The Song Company at mail@songcompany.com.au