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28 October 2021

Luke Paulding (1987-2021)

Luke Paulding (1987-2021)

At the end of October 2021, the Australian new music community was shaken by news about the death of one if its original, emerging voices. Luke Paulding would have turned 34 on Christmas Day this year.

Born in Bahrain and raised in Melbourne, Luke Paulding emerged as a strong voice amongst the younger generation of composers in the 2010s, with his music heard in important international settings. In addition to Australia, his work was performed in the UK, Ireland, France, Italy and Singapore, and championed by ELISION Ensemble, Speak Percussion, Kupka's Piano as well as musicians and ensembles in France and Germany. A breakthrough moment for Paulding was also the first performance of the air a bright shatter of wings as part of the MSO's Metropolis festival in 2011, as part of the MSO Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers' Program.

A trained pianist and tuba player, Luke was a founding member and co-director of new music collective Quiver, dedicated to innovative performances of contemporary art music in 2009-2016. He received support and commissions from the Australia Council for the Arts, Cybec Foundation, IETM-International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts, Melbourne City Council, Arts Centre Melbourne and Musical Society of Victoria, among others. With a passion for exploring other art forms, Luke collaborated on projects for Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Theatre Works, Aphids, and Chamber Made Opera, and attracted Green Room Award nominations for his original sound design in theatre. His music featured at the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Metropolis New Music Festival, Castlemaine Arts Festival and Totally Huge New Music Festival.

Luke graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2010, having attracted numerous awards, including the Marion Isobel Thomas Estate Award and Atheneum Prize. Through studies at the VCA and selective professional development programs around Australia and Europe (including the 2013 Nouvelle Voix composition course at Royaumont Abbey, France) his compositional mentors included Brenton Broadstock, Chris Dench, Brian Ferneyhough, Liza Lim, David Young and, most recently, Elliott Gyger, with whom he studied in 2013-2014 at the University of Melbourne.

'I remember Luke as softly spoken, but extremely bright and with a high degree of aesthetic focus and refinement in his work. His delicate and unconventional sonic palette, conveyed in his beautifully rendered scores, showed promise of a highly distinctive contribution to the new music scene', Gyger says.

ELISION Ensemble took Luke Paulding's 2012 work for tenor trombone, flugelhorn and percussion, to concerts in Singapore, the UK and Ireland.

'where dust is in their mouths and clay is their food had some absolutely stunning and brilliant moments. I have never forgotten the sustained high melisma of the trombone in the opening bars, the debris-creating actions of percussionist Peter Neville as rice showered upon the floor, spilling out of the Chinese cymbals, or the virtuoso exchanges between the ELISION brass - Ben Marks and Tristram Williams', describes ELISION's artistic director Daryl Buckley (read a longer article by Daryl).

In 2021, Luke Paulding had been working on a new collaborative composition to be premiered at the Brisbane Music Festival after a period of a few years where many new music colleagues had lost touch with him. He died before the completion of this new work.

> Luke Paulding - AMC Profile. Read also 'Catching up with Luke Paulding' - an interview by Tim Rutherford-Johnson (February 2013)

> A memorial will take place on 29 November at 1pm at 75 Reid St, Fitzroy, and Luke's family would like to extend an inviation for his friends to attend this event.


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