The Year Behind, The Year Ahead

Well. What a year that was, eh? 2021 was a difficult year for the world collectively and for many of us individually. For me, it was a real mixed bag. It was a tumultuous year in the ol’ personal life, made more challenging by lockdowns and border closures. Amid C***d restrictions, performances were few and far between. Come December, my spirit animal was the following potato.

But 2021 also gave me things to be grateful for. I got back into playing tennis, I was adopted by a cat…twice (long story), and I was able to cross the border to see my family at Christmas. I was also offered some incredible composing opportunities which gave me purpose during a challenging year. So, in no particular order, here are five of my musical highlights from 2021 🙂

1. My first performance at the Sydney Opera House! In February, I was selected for Omega Ensemble’s inaugural CoLAB Composer Accelerator Program. I composed a quintet in two movements, Nigel, which tells the true story of a bird that fell in love with a statue. I cannot speak highly enough of the program, ensemble, and staff. Myself and the other CoLAB participants were mentored by composers including Nico Muhly, Chris Cerrone, and Carl Vine, had our pieces premiered at the Opera House, and then recorded. The recording is being edited and I’ll be able to release it soon.

2. My first commission from a major orchestra! Also in February, I was selected for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Cybec 21st Century Composer Program. I’d applied for this several times, and almost given up hope. But, fifth time proved the charm. I wrote a piece for large chamber orchestra called My Mother Plays the Cello as a gift to my mum on her 60th birthday. It’s a kind of fantasia on the piece I most associate with her, the ‘Prelude’ to J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite in G Major. The premiere is coming up at 6:30pm on January 29th at the Iwaki Auditorium in Melbourne. Come along if you can!

3. Lights, Camera, Transfiguration! In March, my piano suite Light and Transfiguration was recorded by Michael Kieran Harvey. The piece charts the journey of energy from the sun to the earth and into its web of living bodies. It was my major project during my Masters degree and I feel so fortunate to have had it played by an Aussie music legend like Michael.

4. (MMus)sion Complete! In June, I completed my Master of Music at the Sydney Conservatorium. I learnt heaps about the field of the environmental music and composed a whole whack of music: Garden Suite, Denali, Warhol in The Tenderloin, Embers, The Laws of Motion, and Light and Transfiguration. Recordings and score samples of all works are available at the links above. Do check them out, and if you’d like to perform any of them, chuck me an email!

5. Here an orchestra, there and orchestra, everywhere an orchestra orchestra! Given the restrictions in place this year, it’s hard to believe that my orchestral piece The Laws of Motion (and it’s companion piece Rapids and Ripples) was played by not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different orchestras. All of these were workshops of one kind or another. But to work with so many large ensemble in a year like this was a surprise and a privilege. Hopefully there will be a proper premiere in 2022!


2022 is shaping up as another year of uncertainty. But I’m looking forward to some great projects. In the first half of the year, my big project will be three pieces for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. It was such a thrill to be accepted into their 2022-23 Australian Composers’ School, which will see me write five pieces over the next two years. Later in the year, I have a commission for a chamber ensemble in Sydney to look forward to. Details of this haven’t been released yet, but hopefully I can share more soon.

It’s looking like a busy year. But if you’re interested in commissioning me, I’d love to hear from you. I may have time for another project later in the year depending on the scale. And if the timing doesn’t work out this year, we can certainly chat about collaborating in 2023! Do drop me a line if you’re interested.

If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading. Follow me on Ye Olde Facebooke to stay up-to-date with my activities. Happy New Year! Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2022 😊

All the best,

Angus

Sal, one of my legal guardians.