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Australian Composers

In curating each Festival, Artistic Director Myee Clohessy delights in programming excellent Australian works and our audiences treasure the opportunity to hear these talented composers discuss their craft and inspiration. Pieces by Matthew Hindson, Iain Grandage, Nick Wales, Peggy Glanville Hicks, Robert Davidson, Nigel Westlake, and Maria Grenfell have been featured at past festivals, and it has been a privilege to have had visiting composers such as Elena Kats-Chernin, Lyle Chan, Gordon Kerry, Andrew Ford, John Peterson, Sally Whitwell, Nicholas Vines, Sally Greenaway and Ann-Carr Boyd all attended BAMF and shared their musical stories with us.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of donors, the Bowral Autumn Music Festival has been thrilled to be able to commission and host the World Premiere performances of new works, thus providing wonderful opportunities for talented emerging Australian composers such as Sarah-Elise Thompson, Alice Chance, and Ella Macens.

For BAMF 2022 we extend a warm welcome to all the Australian composers listed below and look forward with great excitement to hearing their programmed works.


Alice at BAMF 2019 Image © Peter Hislop

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Alice Chance

Two-time finalist in the APRA Art Music Awards for Vocal/Choral Work of the Year, Alice Chance (1994) is a sought-after composer, conductor, arranger, and lyricist. Her works are performed in concert halls (Sydney Opera House, The Kennedy Centre, City Recital Hall, Angel Place), and cathedrals (St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney, Stanford Memorial Church California, Trinity Church Wall St New York City). But her music is equally at home in auditoriums, paddocks, and showers all around Australia.


Alice has created music for groups including the Australia String Quartet, Ensemble Offspring, Gondwana Choirs, The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, The Australia Piano Quartet, The Enigma Quartet, The Acacia Quartet, Ella Hooper, Sydney Childrens’ Choir, Moorambilla Voices, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellowship, the Kodaly Association, Adelaide Chamber Singers, The Song Company, Musica Viva, Barangaroo Delivery Authority, Luminescence Chamber Singers, and Sydney Youth Orchestras.

In 2021, Alice is creating music for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as part of the 50 Fanfares commissioning project. She is also composer in residence for the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, for whom she is creating various works throughout the year including a clarinet concerto for the award-winning clarinettist Oliver Shermacher. Additionally, Alice is working with the choruses of the St Louis Symphony Orchestra (Missouri, USA) to create a multimedia work sponsored by The Pulitzer Foundation. Alice has been commissioned to write a piece for recorder player Alicia Crossley’s CD Bass Instincts, a trumpet and euphonium duet for James Blackford and Matthew Collins, and a multimedia work for Sydney Youth Orchestras.


In 2020, Alice completed a digital residency with CAMP France in which she received composition mentoring from Gavin Bryars. Alice received one of the Australian Music Centre’s Peggy Glanville Hicks Commissions to develop her audio-visual work Until We Gather Again with Leichhardt Espresso Chorus in lockdown. Alice was also the composer for Belvoir’s A Room of One’s Own (Dir. Carissa Licciardello, September 2020, May 2021).


In 2019, Alice was a member of Australia’s national jury for Eurovision. She also presented her award-nominated work Audience Choir at the Sydney Festival with Ensemble Offspring. She was also commissioned by the Art Gallery of NSW in partnership with the Lady and the Unicorn exhibition to create a piece for early instruments and voice. Other works of Alice’s also received premieres by Evergreen Ensemble, The Acacia Quartet, and Moorambilla Voices in this year. Additionally, Alice was the Vocal Arranger and original Music Director of FANGIRLS (Queensland Theatre, Belvoir 2019; National Tour 2021) and has music-directed its various showcases (Women of the World Festival, London; Adelaide Cabaret Festival).


Alice graduated with First Class Honours from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she studied with Dr Paul Stanhope, Dr Anne Boyd, and Dr Daniel Yeadon.  In addition to composing, Alice is a choral singer and Viola da Gamba player, having performed with Gondwana Choirs, Josie and the Emeralds, and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Early Music Ensemble. Alice is currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Cross-Cultural and Applied Linguistics at the University of Sydney. 

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Image © David Roche 

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Ross Edwards

Ross Edwards AM (b.1943) is a leading Australian composer of a wide variety of music including orchestral and chamber music, choral music, children's music, opera ballet and film music. His distinctive sound world reflects his interest in deep ecology and his belief in the need to reconnect music with elemental forces, as well as restore its traditional association with ritual and dance. He also recognises the profound importance of music as an agent of healing. His music, universal in that it is concerned with age-old mysteries surrounding humanity, is at the same time connected to its roots in Australia, whose cultural diversity it celebrates, and from whose natural environment it draws inspiration, especially birdsong and the mysterious patterns and drones of insects. 

As a student at the Universities of Sydney and Adelaide, Edwards was fortunate in having among his teachers such luminaries as Richard Meale, Sándor Veress and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, with whom he later undertook postgraduate studies in London. During vacations he was an assistant to Peter Sculthorpe, gaining valuable insight into the working life of a composer. Returning to Australia, he became a lecturer in The Sydney Conservatorium’s School of Composition, remaining there until 1980, when he began to freelance as a composer. For seven years he and his wife Helen, a piano teacher, lived with their two children in the coastal village of Pearl Beach, north of Sydney, a crucial time for Edwards as the sound world of the adjacent national park had a profound influence on his musical  language.  

Reclusive by nature, Ross Edwards has been less interested in following a conventional career path than with responding to the inner dictates of his vocation. Far from being isolationist, however, his music is widely performed and represented at major international music festivals. Today, its surface accommodates an eclectic outlook with oblique references to many universal cultural symbols in what he describes as an "intuitive search for unity within diversity". Some of his works for the concert hall allow for a visual component, notably his Fourth Symphony, Star Chant; others - such as the instrumental concertos Bird Spirit Dreaming, Full Moon Dances and Frog and Star Cycle - for lighting, movement and costume. His Dawn Mantras greeted the new millennium in a global telecast from the sails of the Sydney Opera House to universal acclaim. Recent works include Zodiac, for the Houston Ballet, Dances of Life and Death for the Sydney Conservatorium Wind Symphony; Singing the Love, for The Choir of King’s College Cambridge; Four Inscapes, for the Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival; String Quartet No. 4, Ridley Gold, for the Australian String Quartet and Vespers for Mother Earth, a large scale work for voices and instruments commissioned by the Judith Neilson Institute.

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Ella with Claire Edwardes at BAMF 2021 Image © Peter Hislop Canberra 

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Ella Macens

Sydney based Ella Macens is a fast-emerging composer with a passion for choral, orchestral and chamber music writing. Capturing qualities from both popular and classical music styles as well as that of her Latvian heritage, Ella's music is becoming well-known in Australia and beyond.

Ensembles and organisations that have commissioned, premiered or performed her work include the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Youth Orchestra, the Flinders Quartet, Goldner String Quartet and the Strelitzia String Quartet. Choral organisations such as The Song Company, Gondwana National Choirs, Sydney Children's Choir, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Chamber Choir, State Choir Latvija, Latvian choirs Pernigele and Anima, the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music Chamber Choir, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, West Australian Young Voices, Young Adelaide Voices and the Leichhardt Espresso Chorus have all performed her music.  She has worked together with Claire Edwardes, Genevieve Lacey, Neal Peres Da Costa, Danny Yeadon, the Judgment of Paris Recorder Quartet, , the Canberra International Music Festival, the National Carillon Association of Australia, the Sydney Latvian Society, Sydney Festival 2018, the XV Latvian Canadian Song and Dance Festival and the Bowral Autumn Music Festival in 2021.

Ella has completed a Bachelor of Music (Composition) with first class honours at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney, and is currently studying a Master of Music (Composition) under the guidance of Professor Matthew Hindson AM. As one of four composers selected to participate in the Sydney Conservatorium of Music's inaugural National Women Composers' Development Program (2016-17), Ella has been fostering connections with some of Australia's most esteemed ensembles and soloists through the creation of a series of solo, chamber, choral and orchestral works. Her compositions have won awards, including inclusion in ENCORE (2009), the Frank Hutchens Scholarship for Composition in 2012 and the Fine Music FM Young Composer Award (2017) for her first orchestral piece titled FLIGHT. 

In 2015 Ella held the position of composer in residence with Trinity Grammar School and Sydney Youth Orchestra. She is currently the 2018-19 composer in residence with Sydney Children's Choir as well as one of four composers selected to participate in the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Australian Composers' School (2018-19). 

The composer's musical voice is heavily influenced by her Latvian heritage. Growing up in a rich and colourful Latvian community has led her to be continuously surrounded by instrumental folk music, baltic choral music and traditional dance. These elements have unsurprisingly woven their way in to Ella's compositional style. In 2017 she received a prestigious award from the World Federation of Free Latvians (PBLA) to honour her dedication to her cultural heritage, specifically through the incorporation of Latvian elements in her professional line of work. Ella further celebrates her cultural background by arranging traditional Latvian folk songs into contemporary music styles with her good friend Ivars Stubis, which they perform together at Latvian festivals and events in Australia.

Ella currently teaches composition, music theory and aural skills at the University of Sydney and Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She is composer in residence at PLC Sydney and teaches composition privately.

June 2019

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Image © Steve Broadbent

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Holly Harrison

Holly Harrison is a young Australian composer from Western Sydney. Holly’s music is driven by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, embracing stylistic juxtapositions, the visceral energy of rock, and whimsical humour. She is the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s composer in residence across 2020 and 2021. 

Holly’s music has been performed in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA.  2021 sees premieres from Australia Ensemble, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Goldner Quartet, Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra, Coriole Music Festival, Kiazma Piano Duo, and soloists Matt Kneale, Lloyd Van’t Hoff, and Owen Morris. Her music will feature on releases from Ensemble Offspring, Alicia Crossley, Riley Lee and Enigma Quartet, and the Australian String Quartet.  Holly is a mentor for Omega Ensemble’s 2021 and 2022 CoLAB program for pre-professional composers, and in 2022 is a tutor for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s Australian Composers’ School. 

Her work Splinter was a finalist in the Work of the Year: Large Ensemble category of the 2021 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards. Highlights include the Australian Youth Orchestra touring Frumious internationally in 2019, and writing the rock-inspired Balderdash as the set string quartet work for the 2018 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. Holly’s Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup featured on Eighth Blackbird’s (USA) Australian tour as part of Musica Viva’s 2017 International Concert Season. Eighth Blackbird’s performance was later awarded Performance of the Year at the 2018 Art Music Awards.

Holly is the recipient of numerous awards. She was the inaugural winner of the 2017 Sue W Chamber Music Composition Prize, awarded to an Australian female composer, and was a winner of Nu Deco Ensemble's 2018 Nu Works Initiative. She was awarded first place at the 2014 Young Composers Meeting in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, chaired by Louis Andriessen, and was the winner of the 2013 Pyeongchon Arts Hall International Chamber Music Composition Competition (South Korea). She was a resident composer at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival (USA) with Alarm Will Sound and was one of two winners of The Riot Ensemble's (UK) 2014 Call for Scores.

Her works have been performed at festivals including the 2020 String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam (NL), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (NL), November Music (NL), LA Phil’s Noon to Midnight (USA), Sound of Sweden (SWE), Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (USA), 


Image © Belinda Webster

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David Stanhope

David Stanhope is a freelance conductor, composer
and pianist. Engagements with the Australian Opera, State Opera of South Australia and Opera Queensland have included the Australian stage première season of Berg’s Lulu, the Sydney
 and Melbourne premières of Janacek’s The Makropulos Secret, as well as seasons of Peter Grimes, Hansel and Gretel, Salome, Ariadne Auf Naxos, Eugene Onegin, La Traviata, Jenufa, Fidelio, Albert Herring, Turn Of The Screw, Dialogues of the Carmelites and The Pearl Fishers. 

David is a guest conductor and recording
artist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, including several CDs, concerts and engagements with all the major Australian orchestras, Sydney Alpha Ensemble, The Australian Ballet and the Australia Ensemble. He conducted Australian tours for the State Russian Ballet and the Kiev Ballet. David has conducted the soundtracks
 of Babe, Children Of The Revolution, Paradise Road and Passion. For the last-named film he recorded all solo piano repertoire and is the hand “double” for Richard Roxburgh. 

David has written numerous compositions for all kinds of instrumental and vocal ensembles, but is especially known as a writer for wind
 band and brass. He won the ensemble section 
of the International Horn Society composition contest in 1979 with a horn octet. Wind band and brass band works of his have been competition test pieces in Britain and Australia. His compositions include commissions for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, including the arrangement of Advance Australia Fair, the 2006 Asian Games, the suite for string orchestra, String Songs, the double trumpet Battle Concerto written for Geoffrey Payne and James Morrison, and the three-act opera Dracula. Tall Poppies records have released CDs of his wind band music, ‘Little Ripper!’, and brass chamber music entitled ‘Sydney Brass plays Stanhope’. 

David played French horn for several years,
 mostly freelance. He
 was a member of the Adelaide Symphony
 Orchestra before
 working in London.
 He moved to Sydney 
in 1979, becoming a
founding member of
 the Australia Ensemble 
in 1980. He also acted 
as guest principal horn with the Australian Opera and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. In 1984 he changed instrument to bass trombone, freelancing with the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. In 1986 he was offered the position of principal bass trombone with the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra.

As a pianist, David has made recordings with EMI, and in 1980 undertook a concerto tour for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC Classics has released several CDs with him as solo pianist. Tall Poppies records have released 5 CDs - ‘Virtuoso Transcriptions’, ‘David Stanhope plays’, ‘A Virtuoso Recital’ ‘TEN’ and “TWENTY-FIVE - the original Chopin Etudes and Godowsky’s Studies on the Studies Opus 10 and Opus 25, also available on DVD. Gramophone Magazine has described him as ‘a towering athlete of the keyboard’.

In 2020, David completed a PhD at the University of Adelaide. The subject of the thesis explored the viability of orchestral sound libraries, demonstrating their worth in bringing unknown or forgotten orchestral music to life by producing 6 CDs of works by Australian or Australia-based composers. 

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Image © George Popov

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Joseph Twist

Australian composer/arranger Joe Twist is one of the most ‘in demand’ composers in Australia and abroad (Limelight Magazine). Straddling film music and concert music arenas, his music crosses genres including ancient vocal music, opera, contemporary orchestral music, jazz, music theatre and cabaret. Twist has received wide acclaim for his music for film and television including the successful animated series Bluey, as well as arrangements and orchestrations for many major motion pictures produced in Hollywood. He has created music for many renowned international artists and ensembles such as Moby and The Wiggles, and his work have been performed and recorded by the world’s greatest orchestras, including collaborations with The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Hollywood Scoring Orchestra and all major Symphony Orchestras in Australia. Twist’s works appear on numerous commercial recordings including Twist’s own album Dancing With Somebody.

Twist has a wealth of experience in choral music as both a singer and composer, receiving numerous commissions and performances of his music from choirs in Australia and around the world, including The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, Chanticleer, Voces8, The Idea Of North, The Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, L.A. Choral Lab, Sydney Chamber Choir, The Australian Voices, Gondwana Voices, Adelaide Chamber Singers and many others. Twist has worked for decades as a professional chorister in premier church choirs in Australia and the United States.

Twist has received numerous awards, including the ASCAP Jimmy Van Heusen Award 2013, the Chanticleer International Composition Competition, and first place in the 15th International Choral Composition Competition 2011. He is the recipient of two of Australia’s most prestigious Awards for screen music composers; the APRA Professional Development Award (Film and TV Category) and the Brian May Scholarship. Twist holds four tertiary degrees in music composition including doctorate and masters degrees from the University of Queensland, the Australian Film Television and Radio School, and New York University. Twist has participated in several prestigious film scoring programs around the United States, such as NYU ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop in New York and the ASCAP Film and TV Workshop with Richard Bellis in Los Angeles.

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