Gregory Donovan (1959-2010) : Associate Artist
Born in Sydney in 1959, Gregory Donovan began his piano studies at the age of six. He furthered his musical and piano studies under Richard Gill from 1978-1979 and took up the cello, studying with Cedric Ashton.
Donovan started to composer seriously by the age of twelve, with a mini-opera, The Hobbit, being publicly performed by the Hunters Hill junior music club. Majoring in composition at the NSW Conservatorium, he studied under Ross Edwards and Don Banks from 1979.
In the decade from 1980-1990, Donovan wrote, recorded, performed and toured with a variety of rock and fringe acts including Wet Taxis, Beasts of Bourbon, the Johnnys and Louis Tillett, whilst continuing to compose and perform in a contemporary classical genre.
In 1991 Donovan moved to Central Macdonald, northwest of Sydney, where he built a house and studio on the Macdonald River where he now works and resides. In 1994 he formed a piano trio with violinist Kathryn Brownhill and cellist Catherine Tabrett, which performed as the Ghost Trio for the next ten years, performing in a variety of venues from formal concert spaces to the Basement in Sydney, country pubs and outdoor festivals.
Donovan has composed for many mediums. His output includes two symphonies, smaller orchestral works such as Reflections upon the death of Frank Zappa and Concertino for strings, choral music (including the secular requiem Do not go gentle on the Dylan Thomas poem), a piano concerto, a cello concerto Hypatia, and three piano trios. He has also written works for solo instruments, songs and didactic pieces.
Recent commissions include a violin sonata commissioned by Brisbane based violinist Helen-Therese Good, under the umbrella of Youth Music Australia, and a string quartet featuring double bass, The Boy who Loved Her, commissioned by the Melbourne guitarist Penny Ikinger.
Donovan has also composer numerous short film scores, among them El Burro (dir. Mark Lee), screened at Tropfest Best of the Rest in 2003, and Eleusinia (dir. Helen Goritsas) which won the award for the best score and best director at the UBS awards.
Donovan performs regularly as a solo pianist.
A long passion for the ancient Egyptian civilization led the composer to travel extensively throughout Egypt and embark on an attempt to further unravel the decipherment of ancient Egyptian music, a project which will see him return to personally investigate source material in the Beni Hassan tombs in Middle Egypt. This has involved study in the ancient language at Sydney University.
While much of Donovan's music is atonal, it maintains a romantic sensibility which, in avoiding strict serialism or other such artifices, aims at the heart as well as the head.