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Mark Isaacs : Represented Artist

Believing in the power of melody, chromatic harmony, lyricism and polyrhythms are at the heart of Isaacs's craft.

Random Audio Sample: Songs of the universal (quartets: clarinet, piano, viola, cello) by Mark Isaacs, from the CD Anthology of Australian music

Photo of Mark Isaacs


Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "a splendid musical mind", Mark Isaacs (b. 1958) has achieved widespread recognition as a pianist and composer working in both classical music and jazz.

He has given recitals as a classical pianist, conducted orchestras and as a classical concert hall composer has composed more than 100 major works, many commissioned by some of Australia's most prestigious ensembles, orchestras and soloists and ranging across orchestral, chamber, choral, solo pieces as well as scores for film, television and the theatre.

His compositions have received numerous awards and accolades, including an Australia Council Fellowship, the inaugural Miriam Hyde Composer-Pianist Award, the 2007 Albert H. Maggs Composition Award, and the 2012 Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition. Isaacs has also been a prize-winner in the Tokyo International Competition for Chamber Music Composition, and was a finalist in the 2013 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize.

As a jazz pianist he has toured extensively in Europe, Russia, Asia, the USA, Australasia and the Pacific performing at major festivals including the Tokyo Jazz Festival and Pori Jazz, Finland. He has collaborated with some of the most distinguished figures in international jazz including Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, Kenny Wheeler, Adam Nussbaum, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bob Sheppard and Jay Anderson and he has released numerous internationally-acclaimed albums on labels such as Naxos, ABC, Soundbrush, Vorticity and his own label Gracemusic.

Isaacs has twice been nominated for the ARIA Award (Australian "Grammy") and his composition Walk a Golden Mile received the award for "Instrumental Work of the Year" at the APRA/Australian Classical Music Awards. In 2010 & 2011 he was nominated for several Bell Jazz Awards and for Best Independent Jazz Album at the J├Ągermeister Independent Music Awards.

Mark Isaacs' first symphony, commissioned by former media executive Kim Williams AM, was premiered by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in 2013, and the TV program of the premiere - which Mark co-produced - has been screened on Foxtel in Australia and Sky TV in New Zealand.

Isaacs premiered his solo piano cycle Children's Songs at the 2012 Adelaide Festival and recorded it for international release on the New York label Soundbrush Records. Children's Songs was hailed by classical music luminary Vladimir Ashkenazy as a "wonderful cycle [that] is highly inventive and inspiring".

His Chamber Symphony - conducted by the composer - was premiered in July 2015 at the City Recital Hall, Sydney, and in September 2015 Mark Isaacs conducted the Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra in a program of his own orchestral works.

In 2017 Mark Isaacs completed the composition of his Symphony No. 2.

Mark Isaacs holds a Master of Music degree in classical composition and piano performance from the Eastman School of Music, New York. He is also a trained and accredited telephone crisis supporter at Lifeline Australia, the nationwide suicide prevention service.

Mark Isaacs — current to May 2020

Studied with

Christopher Leechman (1970 - 1975)

Heather Silcock (1970 - 1975)

Vincent Plush (1972)

Roger Frampton (1973)

Kim Williams (1973)

David Fennell (1974)

William Motzing (1974 - 1977)

Winsome Evans (1976 - 1978)

Isador Goodman (1976 - 1977)

Michael Hannan (1976 - 1978)

Nicholas Routley (1976 - 1978)

Peter Sculthorpe (1976 - 1978)

Richard Toop (1976 - 1978)

Hal Galper (1979)

Lucy Greene (1979)

Dave Liebman (1979)

Josef Tal (1980 - 1981)

Alexander Tamir (1980 - 1981)

Sergiu Celidibache (1981)

Graham Hair (1982 - 1984)

Igor Hmelnitsky (1982 - 1984)

Brian Howard (1983)

Gillian Whitehead (1983)

Samuel Adler (1984 - 1985)

David Burge (1984 - 1985)

Robert Morris (1984 - 1985)

Martin Wesley-Smith (1984)


Collaborated with

Roy Haynes (1988)

Dave Holland (1988)

James Muller (1997 - 2012)

Kenny Wheeler (1997)

Vinnie Colaiuta (2006)


Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2016 Art Music Awards: Award for Excellence in Jazz Finalist for sustained contribution over four decades and 2015 Queensland Regional Tour
2013 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize Highly Commended Invocations
2012 Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition Winner (Joint) Children's songs
2010 Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition Highly Commended Miniatures & Variations
2008 Classical Music Awards - Instrumental Work of the Year Winner Walk a golden mile
2007 Albert H Maggs Composition Award First Prize String Sextet

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Ballade for orchestra : full orchestra : youth orchestra Commissioned by the Sydney Youth Orchestra Association Ltd for the Sydney Youth Symphony Orchestra
The Quieter path : flute and guitar duo Commissioned by Tim Kain, Virginia Taylor.
Chamber symphony : large chamber ensemble (2014) Commissioned by Harry and Julie Johnson
Digital sheet music sample Symphony No. 1 : full orchestra (2013) Commissioned by Kim Williams for performance by Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
The Wind in the Willows : suite for mixed chamber ensemble and narrator (2012) Commissioned by HUSH Music Foundation.
Digital sheet music sample Invocations : for cello and orchestra (2011) Commissioned by Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra.

Analysis & Media

- Review: The Song Company Viewing 30 May 1999

- Video: Invocations: cello with orchestra, by Mark Isaacs

- Video: Chamber Symphony by Mark Isaacs