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Rae Howell : Associate Artist

Random Audio Sample: The Sweeper : for solo piano by Rae Howell, from the CD Invisible wilderness

Photo of Rae Howell

Photo: Dean Jones


Rae Howell is an award-winning Australian composer and multi-instrumentalist. She is founding director of Sunwrae, a music performance and production enterprise, and Opportune Pianos, her ventures as a piano artisan.

She has studied music at Melbourne University, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, New York University Steinhardt, and has worked professionally in many places across the globe, producing a large catalog of original music albums, publications, collaborative recordings and sound designs.

Howell's work is inspired by, and at times directly derived from patterns in nature, highlighting poignant environmental concerns that emerge from the buzz of a bee, the call of a bird, or the hammer of a piano. Her awards include a UNESCO Aschberg Bursary, a Finzi Trust and Guildhall Trust Scholarship (UK), the Eric Stokes Music Award (USA), the Momentum Commission through the Australian Music Centre, and the BigCi Environmental Award (NSW).

She is a fellow of Yaddo and the Millay Artist Colony in New York, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center in Nebraska, The Banff Centre Canada, and has been visiting composer for numerous projects and residencies including Instituto Sacatar in Bahia, Brazil; the ARENA International Theatre Festival in Erlangen, Germany; The Visby International Centre for Composers in Sweden; Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida; ECCO International in The Gambia West Africa; La Sonora in Argentina; The Edward Said National Conservatoire of Music in Palestine; and Jacky Winter Gardens, and The Bilpin International Ground for Creative Initiatives in Australia.

Howell's catalog of works span from solo to orchestral pieces, sound designs for gallery installations, film and theatre soundtracks, and special event commissions. She has performed for the (late) Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip and Sir David Attenborough at Australia House in London, and at many festivals and concerts worldwide, including SxSW Festival USA; Ho Chi Minh City Opera House Vietnam; Golden Plains Festival, Brisbane Festival, and The Famous Spiegeltent Australia; and the Museum of Modern Art in Salvador, Brazil. Other career highlights include projects for One Off Makery (AUS), Shakespeare's Globe Theatre London, Puppets with Guts (UK), and 'Rabbitsss' (USA).

Howell's most recent large-scale environmental research project 'Bee-Sharp Honeybee' culminated in a performance at the Natimuk Frinj Biennale, for string orchestra, a live honeybee hive and realtime animated visuals projected onto giant wheat silos in rural Australia, supported by the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund, Creative Victoria, The Pollination Project and a cohort of private funders. An award winning short documentary of the-making-of Bee-Sharp Honeybee, directed by Deacon Warner (USA), toured international film festivals during 2018-2019, and the world premiere live performance of the work garnered Rae Howell a finalist in the 2020 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards in Australia. The studio recording of Bee-Sharp Honeybee performed by the Sunwrae String Orchestra, is due to be release on August 24, 2023 by Navona Records in the USA.

Rae Howell — current to June 2023

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2020 Momentum Commissions MOMENTUM I Commission

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Goodness gracious : a cappella vocal sextet / ensemble (2009) Composed for the Song Company as part of the MODART composer development programme
Faraway Castle : piano and string quartet (2002) Written for a German/Australian theatre production 'Einst zu einer Zeit' (Once Upon a Time) in Erlangen, Germany
Hugo where I go : for solo piano (2002) Commissioned for a puppetry/theatre production 'The Angel Show'.