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George Palmer : Associate Artist

Random Audio Sample: A Child is Born : a mass for Christmas for choir, soloists and orchestra by George Palmer, from the CD Exaltate Dominum

Photo of George Palmer

Photo: John Feder

George Palmer studied piano with several eminent teachers and has been composing since he was a teenager. He graduated in law, however, and practised as a barrister, became Queen's Counsel and, in 2001, was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. His music came to the attention of the ABC in 2003, resulting in a national live broadcast by ABC FM of a concert of his orchestral music and the subsequent release by ABC Classics of two CDs, Attraction of Opposites, containing his orchestral music, and Exultate Dominum, containing choral music. He has been the subject of three Australian Story episodes on ABC TV. He resigned as a Judge in 2011 to devote himself entirely to composition.

Palmer's many works include music for large orchestra, various chamber ensembles, choir a cappella and with orchestra, song cycles and concertos for a variety of instruments. His work has been performed by leading orchestras, soloists and chamber groups throughout Australia and New Zealand, and in the USA and Europe. For World Youth Day 2008, he was commissioned to write a Mass, Benedictus Qui Venit, for large choir, orchestra and soloists which was performed in the presence of the Pope and 350,000 people.

Palmer's opera, Cloudstreet, adapted from Tim Winton's iconic novel, for which Palmer wrote both libretto and music, was premiered in May 2016 by State Opera South Australia, directed by Gale Edwards, with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra conducted by Timothy Sexton. It was hailed by The Australian as 'a resounding triumph', played to capacity houses and standing ovations and received rave reviews.

Amongst his many commissioned works are a concerto for two clarinets and chamber orchestra, It Takes Two, recorded for ABC Classics in 2016 by Dimitri Ashkenazy and David Rowden with the Omega Ensemble, a cello concerto, Breaking the Silence with Catherine Hewgill and the Verbrugghen Ensemble, and three song cycles, including Letters from a Black Snake, with text from the letters of notorious Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly.

In 2010 Palmer was made a Member of the Order of Australia 'for services to the law as a judge and to music as a composer and in leadership roles.'

George Palmer — current to March 2017

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2010 Order of Australia Member of the Order of Australia

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Concerto for two clarinets & chamber orchestra : It takes two Commissioned by Ars Musica Australis for performance by Dimitri Ashkenazy, Omega Ensemble.
Ithaca : Quartet for Clarinet and Strings (2016) Commissioned by the family of Professor Rod McDonald for his 70th birthday
Breaking the Silence : Concerto for violoncello and chamber orchestra (2015) Commissioned by Pelikan Artline Pty Ltd to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Shachihata Inc.
Digital sheet music sample The Stubborn Heart : Song cycle for soprano and chamber orchestra (2014) Commissioned by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Ars Musica Australis as part of the 101 Series commissioned by the Conservatorium to celebrate its centenary
Dance when ya gotta dance! : SATB choir with orchestra (2011) Commissioned by St Andrew's Cathedral School, Sydney
Figures from an Urban Landscape : baritone voice with piano (2010) Commissioned by patrons of the arts, Renata and Andrew Kalor.