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29 June 2017

James Peter Wade (1979-2017) - obituary

James Wade Image: James Wade  

Composer James Wade died unexpectedly on 17 June 2017 at the age of 38. A highly talented Australian composer of contemporary classical music with an emerging professional career, James had a number of engagements and interests, including working as a radio host, music tutor and having an additional talent as a photographer. He played guitar in a folk duo, The Wayward.

Composition was his central focus and lead to performances and broadcasts with the Australian String Quartet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Halcyon and The Song Company, among others. He was the 2012/2013 recipient of the Hephzibah Tintner Fellowship, with works created for the Sydney Dance Company, Australian Ballet, Opera Australia and the Sydney Symphony. His music was increasingly influenced by Asian philosophy and often focuses on beautiful melodic lines in a fluid multi-layered soundscape.

James first came to the University of Melbourne in 1997 as an Arts student and graduated with a BA in 2001. By 2002, he had a clear purpose to specialise in music and gained admission to the Bachelor of Music, initially as a vocal major. He was accepted into the Composition specialisation in 2003 and graduated in 2005 with First Class Honours. He undertook further postgraduate study in Canada at the University of British Columbia and, back in Australia, at the University of Sydney. He returned to the University of Melbourne to complete a Master of Music (Composition) degree in 2011. He was nearing completion of his PhD in Composition, with Elliott Gyger as his principal supervisor, along with Brenton Broadstock and myself.

James spoke quietly, yet articulately, with a rich bass voice that was well-suited to working for radio. He was a regular broadcaster on 3MBS FM and also presented nationally on ABC Classic FM. He took a keen interest in philosophy, all the arts and the environment. He was a regular at composition social events and well-known and liked in the composition community. He is a represented artist with the Australian Music Centre, and his music will live on. But we will miss James, the person behind the music, very much.

James is survived by his mother Geraldine and brother Michael.

A celebration of James's life and music will be organised in Melbourne on 6 July. Everyone is invited.

AMC resources

James Wade - AMC profile

Subjects discussed by this article:

Proferssor Stuart Greenbaum is the Head of Composition, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne 


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