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Brendan Colbert : Represented Artist

...variously described as exciting & enervating, intense, intricate, engrossing, obsessive, and joyously mercurial, Colbert's music is disinclined to surrender all its secrets at a single hearing - it both demands and rewards concentration...

Random Audio Sample: Akkord I : for piano by Brendan Colbert, from the CD Mosaics

Photo of Brendan Colbert


Brendan Colbert (b. 1956) performed with various progressive rock bands in the 1970s as keyboard player and songwriter, then in the '80s undertook private composition studies; initially with Brenton Broadstock & later with Riccardo Formosa.

After a series of early commissions (most notably from ELISION) he was selected twice for the National Orchestral Composers' School (1991 & 1995 - tutors Gerard Brophy, Richard Mills, and Carl Vine) which led to the premieres of Machinations and Jericho's Strange by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The following years saw the resolution and assimilation of such disparate influences, the revision or withdrawal of several early works, and the emergence of an uncompromising individual voice. His output currently comprises about a hundred works, and includes commissions from local and international artists, ensembles, and orchestras, with concert and festival performances throughout Australia, Europe and the USA.

Commissions from Symphony Australia - for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra - and from the US flautist Linda Wetherill (both with assistance from the Australia Council), saw the premieres of Eirenicon in Perth (2000), and Shades of Futures Past - a concerto for flute/alto flute/piccolo and small orchestra - in New York in a version for soloist and CD(2004). Shades of Futures Past was subsequently given its first full performance in Melbourne in August 2011, with the Arcko Symphonic Project conducted by Timothy Phillips, and featuring Sarah Beggs as soloist.

A commission from Arcko's artistic director resulted in the premiere of ...like a Maelstrom - a double concerto for piano, trumpet, and small orchestra - in Melbourne in February 2015, with the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble conducted by Timothy Phillips, and featuring Peter Dumsday (piano) and Bruno Siketa (trumpet) as soloists. This took place as part of a composer portrait concert, that also included the premieres of Proxima (by Silo String Quartet), The palest light (by Timothy Phillips - glockenspiel) and Torque (by Phoebe Green, viola). A CD is available through Crackbell Records.

A recent commission from Michael Kieran Harvey saw the completion of Dancing to the Tremors of Time, a 25 minute single-movement work for solo piano. Somewhat challenging for performer and audience alike, it was successfully premiered in November 2018 at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart.

Latest premieres include Alter(n)ations (Michael Kieran Harvey - piano, Peter Neville - vibes: Melbourne, February 2023), Repose [for Absent Friends] (by Michael Kieran Harvey, in Melbourne, April 2018), movements I, V, and IX from Figuration in Search of Identity (James Townsend, Madi Chwasta and Mathew Levy, ANAM at NGV, in Melbourne, May 2017), Contre-Temps (by Peter Dumsday in Melbourne, December 2016), and re-fract (by Michael Kieran Harvey in Sydney, September 2016).

Various works are available on CD, and scores are available from the Australian Music Centre, or from the composer.

Brendan Colbert — current to March 2023

Studied with

Brenton Broadstock (1983 - 1986)

Riccardo Formosa (1986 - 1988)


Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Dancing to the Tremors of Time : for solo piano (2017) Commissioned by Michael Kieran Harvey.
Like a maelstrom : for piano, trumpet in C and chamber orchestra (2013) Commissioned for Arcko Symphonic Ensemble, Timothy Phillips.
Spiel : transcribed for flute, clarinet and guitar (2005) This transcription for flute, Bb clarinet & guitar was prepared for Altrove 1.3 for their debut CD KAPPA.
Shades of futures past (flute with chamber orchestra) (2003) Commissioned by Linda Wetherill.
DisTanz : for percussion quartet (2002) Commissioned by Speak Percussion.
Sphinx : large chamber ensemble (2001) Commissioned by Elision Ensemble.

Analysis & Media

- Program note: Brendan Colbert's "Semplice"

- Program note: Brendan Colbert's "pneu·ma"