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Robert Davidson : Represented Artist

I enjoy music that celebrates the body as well as the mind, that responds to how our primate brains operate. We're living in the most exciting musical period ever, and I'm thrilled.

Random Audio Sample: Landscape : for guitar and string quartet by Robert Davidson, from the CD Imaginations

Photo of Robert Davidson

Photo: Paul Young

Robert Davidson studied composition with Terry Riley in California and New York, and completed a PhD in composition at the University of Queensland. He previously studied South Indian vocal music in Kerala, India. He was a bassist in the Australian Opera, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Queensland Symphony Orchestra, taking up a role as Senior Lecturer in Composition at University of Queensland, following a similiar role at Queensland University of Technology.

His quintet Topology has played at numerous festivals around the world since forming in 1997 - their performances range from supporting pop group Savage Garden to experimental theatre. Topology worked with Geoffrey Rush in the opening production of the Optus Playhouse and again in the 2000 Olympics Arts Festival, and have collaborated closely with a very wide range of artists, including Terry Riley, TaikOz, the Brodsky Quartet, Kate Miller-Heidke, Katie Noonan, William Barton, Abhinaya Theatre (India) and Dead Puppets Society. They have released 15 albums.

One of Davidson's areas of interest is in making music from the intonation of recorded speech. Well-known works in this area include Not Now, Not Ever! for choir with Julia Gillard's Misogyny speech, and Big Decisions narrating the events of the Whitlam Dismissal. An album of Prime Minister speeches, The Singing Politician, was released in 2016 with The Australian Voices and Topology. His 2017 work Stalin's Piano for pianist Sonya Lifschitz has been featured widely in festivals around the world, including at London's Barbican Centre where it received 4-star reviews.

Davidson's compositions are regularly performed, recorded, broadcast and televised around the world. in venues including New York's Lincoln Center, Sydney's Opera House and London's Barbican. All of Australia's professional orchestras and many leading soloists and ensembles have commissioned and performed his works. With Topology he has released 14 albums, and has directed numerous artistic collaborations with creators of many varied cultural and stylistic backgrounds, including The Saints, Geoffrey Rush, Terry Riley, The Brodsky Quartet, Katie Noonan, Kate Miller-Heidke, Christine Anu, TaikOz, William Barton and many more. He has scored three documentary films: Memory Tree (Juniper/ABC), Joyride (Fifty Fifty/ABC, 2018), and Strong female lead (Northern Pictures/SBS, 2021).

Dr Davidson is the head of composition at the University of Queensland and his research is in artificial intelligence and music, music theory, collaboration, music literacy and music education.

Robert Davidson — current to April 2022

Studied with

Terry Riley (1995 - 1996)


Teacher/Influence on

Connor D'Netto (2013)

Nicole Murphy (2013)

Alexander Voltz

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Australians : Voice portraits Assisted through the National Film and Sound Archive's Research Fellowships program.
Exterior Commissioned by Australian Institute of Eastern Music.
Digital sheet music sample Four places (trios: shakuhachi, marimba, cello) Commissioned by the Australian Institute of Eastern Music
Smoke signals : chamber ensemble Commissioned by the Southern Cross Soloists for performance in their 'Words and Music' series
Goodbye : for soprano saxophone, violin, viola, double bass and piano Commissioned by the Queensland Music Festival
Still and still moving (violin with chamber ensemble) Commissioned by the Stift International Music Festival, the Netherlands