Voted as one of Australia's 100 Living National Treasures, Peter Sculthorpe has a deep love for his country and for its landscape, which he regards as sacred. One of the most constant themes in his output is the protection of Australia's environment, as well as that of the whole planet. The music and culture of the Pacific Rim, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait island has been a major influence.
‘Aboriginal, Japanese, Balinese [music] and the sounds of the wild birds, wind, thunder are evocative sources, but his skill lies in the ability to synthesise these elements into music all his own, melancholic and desolate, but wonderfully coloured and rhythmically vital.' Independent
The music of Guto Pryderi Puw is primarily influenced by the European avant-garde and more recently by such composers as György Ligeti and Per Nørgård, but the subject matter of his compositions is firmly rooted in Welsh literature and culture. He recently received a prestigious Creative Wales ward allowing him to pursue a new project in the field of opera.
Stillness, simplicity, an occasional playfulness and a tendency to set unusual and quixotic texts can be found in the music of Cardiff-born Peter Reynolds. Like the music of Morton Feldman, with whom he studied briefly, his music avoids large-scale rhetorical forms and is often fashioned on a small-scale and revised over many years before reaching its final shape.
Australian composer Paul Stanhope is internationally recognised as a leading composer of his generation. A pupil of Peter Sculthorpe, he was later awarded a Charles Mackerras Scholarship to study in London. His growing reputation was confirmed in 2004 when he was awarded first place in the prestigious Toru Takemitsu Composition Prize and his music was featured in the opening ceremony of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
‘My music presents the listener with an optimistic, personal geography … whether this is a reaction to the elemental aspects of the universe (both the celestial and terrestrial) or the throbbing energy of the inner-city.'
The music of Australian composer Ross Edwards seeks to restore our connections with the potent, elemental forces of the natural world. His work is characterised by a sense of timeless ritual and spontaneous impulses to dance. He regards composition as a vocation, an opportunity to communicate ideas about our place in the world through the medium of music. Many of these expressions of universal primal qualities have their roots specifically in the landscape of Edwards's native Australia, using elements of birdsong and the mysterious drones of summer insects. Other works inspired by the Australian landscape are a testament to his belief in the healing power of music through its meditational properties.
Born in London to a Russian father and English mother, Gabriel Prokofiev studied composition in the UK and US and has devoted much of his time to producing dance- and electro music. He fuses these styles with his classical roots in works such as the recent Concerto for Turntables, which was premiered with soloist DJ Yoda. He also has a serious interest in African music, developed during a year of teaching in Tanzania.
In 2004, he founded the independent record label nonclassical and started Chamber Music Classical Stays Out Late: a club night bringing together live acts as well as DJ sets incorporating classical music.
Australian composer and viola player Brett Dean pursued a highly successful orchestral career as a member of the Berlin Philharmonic before turning to composition. Initially working on experimental film and radio projects as an arranger and improvising performer, he soon gained international success as a composer through such pieces as Carlo, based on the music of Gesualdo, and the UNESCO prize-winning Ariel's Music. Many of his works draw inspiration from the paintings of his partner Heather Betts.
'...a voice of fertile imagination, originality and expressive subtlety' Chicago Tribune