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Derek Strahan : Represented Artist

I am of the view that there exists an implicit contract between listener and composer that a work of music should communicate a sense of beauty, and that a composer should respect and seek to fulfill the listener's expectation in this regard.

Random Audio Sample: Trespassers will be prosecuted : for clarinet in B flat and piano by Derek Strahan, from the CD Dangerous by moonlight

Photo of Derek Strahan

Photo: Elvis Joseph

Artist website: http://www.revolve.com.au

Derek Strahan was born in Penang, Malaysia, on 28 May 1935 and spent his early childhood in colonial Malaysia. He was evacuated with his mother and sister to Perth, WA, when Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942. In 1946 the Strahans settled in Northern Ireland where Strahan completed his schooling in Belfast. He achieved a scholarship to enter Cambridge University, where he graduated in 1956 with an arts degree in modern languages (French and Spanish). At university, he maintained a commitment to music and also developed an interest in theatre and cinema, acting in a number of university productions. From 1956 to 1960 he worked in London as teacher, actor, singer-songwriter, and assistant film director making commercials.

In 1961 he returned to Australia and settled in Sydney, where he combined composing film and concert music with work as film director, scriptwriter, actor, singer/songwriter, teacher and, currently, script assessor for the Australian Writers' Guild. His compositions include music for over 30 films documentaries, three feature films, and over 20 works of concert music encompassing solo, ensemble, vocal and orchestral pieces. Much of his film and concert music has been released on CD, and has been consistently broadcast on national radio.

Strahan regards the ultimate mystery in music as being melody and seeks to combine this element with polyphony and polymetrics. He has attracted performance by distinguished artists. In 1980 his String Quartet No. 1 (The Key) and Clarinet Quintet No. 1 (The Princess) were recorded by John Gould, Irene Donohoe, Jane Hazelwood, David Pereira, and Alan Vivian, and both works were frequently broadcast. Mezzo-soprano Lauris Elms AM OBE commissioned Strahan's song cycle Rose of the Bay, premiering the work at the Sydney Opera House in 1987, and recording it for the ABC and for CD release. Two works written for cellist Georg Pederson - China Spring and Solo Cello Suite No. 1 - have also been recorded by the ABC. Solo Cello Suite No. 2 was recently premiered at the Sydney Conservatorium.

Other commissions include Piano Trio No. 1 in F, written for the 1988 Bicentenary and premiered on Australia Day 1988 at a champagne breakfast in Sydney's Centrepoint Tower. Michael Scott commissioned the flute and piano work Atlantis which develops material for Strahan's Atlantis opera project, as does Eden In Atlantis, a 25-minute scena for soprano, flute and piano, premiered in 1996 by Liza Rintel, Michael Scott and David Miller AM. Canberra School of Music commissioned Voodoo Fire for clarinet, percussion and synthesiser (1996), and Clarinet Concerto (2002) both for performance by Alan Vivian. In 2008 Dr Stephen Ross and Fiona Ross commissioned Strahan through the Australia Cultural Fund of the Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) to write Space Trilogy for trumpet and piano for performance by Alexander Ross and Anthony Smith at Alexander's graduation recital at the ANU School of Music in November 2009.

Derek Strahan is listed with the Australia Cultural Fund as a bona fide practising artist engaged in quality activities that contribute to Australia's cultural life. The Australia Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) has confirmed that it is possible for Derek Strahan's supporters to make a tax-deductible donation to AbaF's Australia Cultural Fund. The AbaF Board will take donor requests into consideration when deciding its grants.

Derek Strahan — current to June 2016

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Space trilogy : for trumpet in C & piano (2009) Commissioned by Dr. Steven and Fiona Ross.
Calypso in exile : a narrative for soprano and wind quintet (2003) Commission with private funding through Canberra School of Music 2003 for performance by Canberra Wind Quintet
Clarinet concerto no. 1 (clarinet with full orchestra) (2002) Commissioned by Canberra School of Music for performance by Alan Vivian.
Voodoo fire : trio for clarinet, percussion and keyboard (1995) Commissioned by the Canberra School of Music for performance by Alan Vivian and colleagues.
Eden in Atlantis : soprano with ensemble (1994) Commissioned through Sydney Conservatorium through private donation.
Atlantis variations (solo piano) (1993) Commissioned by Sydney Conservatorium of Music for performance by Gerard Willems.

Analysis & Media

Book: Press release : Derek Strahan, composer.