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Fred Hill : Represented Artist

If my music is rewarding to play and sing, someone out there is going to gain satisfaction from it.

Random Audio Sample: Why rather sleep (octets: 8 voices) by Fred Hill, from the CD Selected compositions 1972-1990

Photo of Fred Hill


Born in London in 1948, Frederick (Freddie, Fred) Rowland Hill is a jazz trumpeter. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree with Honours from Cardiff University and a Diploma of Education from Sydney Teachers' College. He attended the Jazz Summer Schools held in South Wales in 1968, 1969 and 1970, and the Conservatorium Jazz Clinics in Sydney in 1980, 1981 and 1982. Hill has studied trumpet with Brian Rance, Alan Cross and Keith Stirling, and composition with Graham Collier, Alan Hoddinott, and John Mayer.

In 1976 Hill founded an eleven-piece contemporary jazz orchestra, Brassband Extraordinaire, which played original compositions and arrangements of music by composers such as Erik Satie and Thelonious Monk. At about this time he was also involved with a performance group at the Arts Centre in Bristol, where some of his chamber compositions were performed. Through the Arts Centre, Hill met the composer Oliver Knussen, who wrote Spiritual, for solo trumpet and tape, for him. Hill has performed as a jazz trumpeter with bands such as the Gaiety Swing Band (now called the Shawnuff Swing Band), the Southern Hemisphere Big Band, Saturn Doll (later called Co-existence), and The Hot Club of Bondi. He has been a private teacher of music, and has also taught instrumental and class music for the NSW Department of Education since 1980.

Freddie Hill composes in both jazz and classical styles, and has composed an opera, The Circumnavigator, to his own libretto. He has been resident with Don Mon's Toc Light Music Ensemble and with the Gaiety Swing Band, has received commissions from the ABC and Tom Baker, and was the recipient of the John Morgan Lloyd Award in 1971.

Hill took out Australian citizenship in 1992 and has lived in the Campbelltown area since 1994 with his wife Christine, a photo-journalist and artist. In 2000 he arranged and coordinated the Latin-American CD Destino, produced by the woodwind player Sarah Butler, for whom he has written extensively. His major project at this time is an operatic version of Charles Kingley's classic tale The Water Babies from which he has also drawn the libretto.

Since 2005 Hill has been increasingly occupied with educational music, especially with concert and stage band work for primary and junior high school students. He initiated a jazz-based ensemble 'September 31' in 2006, involving John Pochee and others, dedicated to a folio of compositions which he felt had been under-represented in previous years. A celebration of the life and work of Leonard Bernstein, for which he compiled a medley from Candide for wind trio, led to a commission from the Sydney Jewish Choral Society. He was invited to form an all-trumpet ensemble for the Minto;Live festival, an adjunct to the 2011 Sydney Festival with sponsorship from the Campbelltown City Council. The resulting work Cold Harbour which also exists in several other forms, was performed with 8 other trumpeters on in January 2011.

In 2009, at the behest of Sarah Butler, Hill submitted his concert band march, Tigers' Tales for the inaugural NSW School Band Composers' Challenge held at the University of NSW. It won an award and a contract for Northeastern Publications, which was presented by their president, Dr. Randy Navarre.

In recent years, Hill has also been on the staff of the St George Players' Academy, directed by Jan Thorp, and contributes as player/arranger in her very popular silent film shows.

Being impassioned by literary as much as by musical stimuli, he is composing a song cycle on the work of the Australian poet John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942) as well as a series of 'orchestral narratives' based on the American Civil War stories of Ambrose Bierce (1842-date of death unknown). The first of these, Chickamauga, represents a child's-eye view of the mindless destruction caused by war. In 2013 he completed his Symphonic Suite, Owl Creek, based on another Civil War story by Bierce, in which a man, captured and condemned to hang, relives the last moment of his life in graphic detail.

Hill's magnum opus of the years 2000 and onwards has been his second opera, based on Charles Kingsley's classic fairy tale The Water-Babies, of which he has been aware since early childhood, and from which he prepared the libretto with extensive content from Kingsley's text, which was published in 1863. He has writtento this effect " (W-B) is one of te most widely read and least understiood works of literature; it is a work of flawed genius in which the flaws are as inspiring as the genius." The first performance took place at the Seymour Centre University of Sydney, on June 18, 2016. The musical director was Rowen Fox and the producer was Josephine Truman, who has masterminded the work throughout the production process as well as singing major stage roles.The score is eclectic, reflecting both traditional and contemporary genres, with an infusion of jazz. As befits a work designed to resonate with all ages, special care has been taken to produce vital music for the child performers, both as soloists and chorus. It has been revived in 2017 at Kindlehill Steiner School, Wentworth Falls, and in a codensed version, at the ACA Theatre, Leichhardt,for the 2019 Sydney Fringe.

As a brass player, Hill is active in various jazz, stage and community bands, with a particular interest in Klezmer. In 2018 he composed Long Walk to Freedom for brass band, for the centenary of the Birth of Nelson Mandela. As with so many other musicians nationally and worldwide, promotion of his work has been hidered by the COVID outbreak; he has been occupied recently in writing solo pieces for friends to occupy themselves with during lockdown.

Hill has written prose, verse and music reviews,including song lyrics and libretti for both his operas, and his other interests include cryptic crosswords, bushwalking and cricket.

Freddie is also published by the Melbourne-based Kookaburra Music which specialises in brass music. He has also been doing extensive research on the work of the Polish/Soviet/Jewish composers Miecyslaw Weinberg (1919-96.)

Fred Hill — current to September 2021

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Long Walk to Freedom : brass band (2017) Written for Eddie Claxton, South West Brass Band
Digital sheet music sample A bluesy kind of thing : trumpet with piano (2007) composed for one of my trumpet students, Max Oke, of Balmain NSW
Digital sheet music sample Chickamauga : an orchestral narrative (2006) Commissioned by Lewis Cornwell for performance by Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Leaden eyed : choir (2004) N/A
Digital sheet music sample Overture on Colonial Themes : for brass quintet (2001) Commissioned by Melvin Shreeve for performance by Macarthur Sounds
Stealin' lollies : for bassoon & piano (2000) Commissioned by Sarah Butler.