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Katy Abbott : Represented Artist

I seek to unpack the human side of life; humour, foibles, quirky things we do and say, beauty, grief and friendship...

Random Audio Sample: No ordinary traveller : for mezzo-soprano and mixed trio by Katy Abbott, from the CD domestic sublime

Photo of Katy Abbott

Photo: Pia Johnson

Artist website: http://www.katyabbott.com

The music of Katy Abbott (1971) leads the listener through a narrative of sound, exploring concepts of home, place, connection and human nature, frequently exhibiting a cheeky humour and cleverly juxtaposing contemporary flavours on traditional settings.

Abbott's compositions have been performed, published and recorded around the world, brought to life by many of leading Australian chamber ensembles including Halcyon, The Song Company, Syzygy Ensemble, Ironwood Chamber Ensemble and Sydney, Adelaide, Tasmanian and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras. Her works have been performed in UK, Europe, Asia and the USA and featured in many Australian and International music festivals.

A versatile creative talent, her body of work incorporates orchestra, chamber and music for voice, an area where she exhibits a particular flair. She completed her PhD in 2007 including a guide to writing for the voice as her thesis, working with Brenton Broadstock and Linda Kouvaras at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne. Several of her works appear on the AMEB, ANZCA and VCE/HSC syllabi.

Abbott has been awarded the 2019 Paul Lowin Song-Cycle Prize for Hidden Thoughts 1, the 2013 Boston Metro Opera 'Gold Medal for Art-Song' for her song-cycle The Domestic Sublime and the 2011 Albert H. Maggs Award for Composition amongst others. She also spent several weeks at Banff at the Centre for the Arts, Bundanon Trust and UKARIA Cultural Centre.

Two orchestral works which receive numerous and repeated performances are The Peasant Prince (2009, commissioned Adelaide Symphony Orchestra), the story of Mao's Last Dancer Li Cunxin, with a TSO/ABC Classics recording pending). Introduced Species (2014, commissioned for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), explores the work of Australian artist Matthew Quick and the North Pacific Ocean's Garbage Patch/Trash Vortex. Also, Abbott's symphony Souls of Fire (2004), was released with the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra.

Apart from these orchestral works, significant compositions include song-cycle No Ordinary Traveler (2006) for Halcyon, MultiSonics (2010) for Australian bassoonist, Mark Gaydon, The Domestic Sublime (2011) recorded by Greta Bradman and Leigh Harrold, Midnight Songs (2013) for flugel, trombone, guitar and loop pedals; recorded by Ensemble Three on their 2016 album Midnight Songs.

Abbott has four solo discs: Sunburnt Aftertones: The Chamber Music of Katy Abbott (Move Records), The Domestic Sublime: the vocal music of Katy Abbott (ABC Classics) and Famous (Leeward Side Records). Punch: the Brass Music of Katy Abbott (ABC Classics). Her scores are published by Reed Music, Promethean Editions (NZ) and The Australian Music Centre.

Hidden Thoughts is Abbott's current series of works using the hidden thoughts of various collections of people who are surveyed (anonymously). Responses are chosen and set to music.

Hidden Thoughts 1 (2017) is a festival piece for The Song Company and Syzygy Ensemble based on the 'hidden thoughts' of women collected in an anonymous survey. An interview and ABC FM recording of Hidden Thoughts 1 is available as a New Waves Podcast. Hidden Thoughts 2: Return To Sender will be premiered in 2020.

As well as freelance composition, Abbott is Senior Lecturer in Composition at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne and is the recipient of the Australia Council of the Arts Fellowship (Music) for 2019/2020.

Katy Abbott — current to November 2019

Studied with

Stuart Greenbaum (1998 - 1999)

Brenton Broadstock


Teacher/Influence on

Lisa Cheney (2017 - 2018)

Cameron Lam (2020 - current)

May Lyon

Katherine Rawlings

Alexander Voltz

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Still : for clarinet in Bb and piano (2020) Commissioned by Australia Ensemble.
Digital sheet music sample Hidden Thoughts II: Return To Sender : for mezzo-soprano, narrator and string quartet (2020) This work was composed for Flinders Quartet for their 20th Birthday and was composed as part of an Australia Council of the Arts Fellowship (music)
Digital sheet music sample Fast ride in a suave machine : for large orchestra (2020) This work was commissioned by Orchestras Australia as part of a composer attachment in 2005/06. It was supported with the assistance of the Australia Council Music Board in a new initiative titled ‘Composer_Connecting_Community’.
Digital sheet music sample Drink Hope : for 3-part treble voices and piano (2019) Commissioned by Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School
Digital sheet music sample Aspects of Dreaming 2 : for violin, B flat clarinet and piano (2018) Commissioned by Plexus Ensemble.
Earth Lullaby : for shakuhachi and string quartet (2017) Commissioned by Enigma Quartet, Riley Lee.

Analysis & Media

- Review: The Song Company Trans-Tasman Waves i February 2005

- Video: Katy Abbott on composition - In conversation with...

- Video: Katy Abbott on setting text - In conversation with...

- Video: Katy Abbott on Collaboration - In Conversation With...

- Video: Katy Abbott on No Ordinary Traveller - In Conversation With...

- Video: Katy Abbott on Recording - In Conversation With...