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Special Commissions

The Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition featured the world premiere of two specially commissioned works by Australian composers Holly Harrison and Paul Stanhope.

Holly Harrison

Holly Harrison

Balderdash for String Quartet (2018)
Commissioned for Musica Viva and MICMC by the Silo Collective

Holly Harrison is a young Australian composer from Western Sydney. Her music is driven by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, embracing stylistic juxtapositions, the visceral energy of rock, and whimsical humour.  

Holly’s work Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup featured on Eighth Blackbird’s (USA) Australian tour as part of Musica Viva’s 2017 International Concert Season. The tour included performances by the fourtime Grammy award-winning group at Perth International Arts Festival and Adelaide Festival. Upcoming projects include a concertino for bassoon and string quartet for Matthew Kneale (2017 Freedman Classical Fellowship winner) and Omega Ensemble, a sextet for Sydney new music champions Ensemble Offspring, a children's work for the Canberra International Music Festival, and a piece for Brisbane-based Kupka’s Piano. She has recently completed a piece for shakuhachi legend Riley Lee and Enigma Quartet, as part of their Five Elements Project. 

Holly was the inaugural winner of the 2017 Sue W Chamber Music Composition Prize, awarded to an Australian female composer, for her work Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup. She was awarded first place at the 2014 Young Composers Meeting in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, for her work Cabbages and Kings, and in 2013 was the winner of the inaugural Pyeongchon Arts Hall International Chamber Music Composition Competition (South Korea) with Red Queen, White Queen, Alice and All. Holly 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 Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2014/2016 (NL), November Music (NL), Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (USA), Kontiki Racket, Perth International Arts Festival, Adelaide Festival, Australian Music Day, Limelight Australian Composition Seminar, Creativity Unlimited, Asian Composers’ League Festival (TWN), and Now Hear This Festival (CAN). Holly’s music has been performed in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA by ensembles and artists including Orkest de Ereprijs, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Offspring, Sydney Symphony Fellows, RKST21 (Ereprijs and Het Gelders Orkest), Michael Kieran Harvey and Timothy Phillips, Caroline Cartens, Sydney Youth Orchestras, The Riot Ensemble, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, The Sound Collectors, The Violet Collective, Minot Symphony Orchestra, Hwaum Chamber Orchestra, Georgia Tech Strings, and National Taiwan Normal University Orchestra. 

Holly currently teaches composition at MLC School, Burwood, and was previously composer in residence at Prairiewood High School. She completed a Doctor of Creative Arts under the supervision of Bruce Crossman and John Encarnacao at Western Sydney University, where she is currently a sessional academic.  

Holly also plays drum kit and percussion in the improvised experimental rock duo Tabua-Harrison with Joey Tabua (electric guitar). Their debut record is expected for release in 2018.  

Paul Stanhope

Paul Stanhope

Pulses for Piano Trio (2018)
Commissioned for Musica Viva and MICMC through the Ken Tribe Fund for Australian Composers

Paul Stanhope (b. 1969) is a Sydney-based composer and a leading figure in his generation of Australian composers. He has had prominent performances of his works in the UK, Europe, Taiwan and Japan as well as North and South America. After studies with Peter Sculthorpe, Paul was awarded the Charles Mackerras Scholarship which enabled him to study for a time at the Guildhall School of Music in London in 2000.

In May 2004 Paul's international standing was confirmed when he was awarded first place in the prestigious Toru Takemitsu Composition Prize. In 2011 he was awarded two APRA/Australian Music Centre Awards for Instrumental Work of the Year and Vocal/Choral Piece of the Year and in 2015 was a finalist for the Orchestral Work of the Year. Paul is also the recipient of a Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship for 2013-2014 - the first composer to be granted this honour.

In 2010 Paul was Musica Viva's featured composer: his String Quartet no. 2 received nationwide performances by the Pavel Haas Quartet as part of this season, as did his Agnus Dei - After the Fire for violin and piano, performed by the stellar duo Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien. Other choral and chamber works received national tours by the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge and the Atos Piano Trio from Berlin. Paul's music has also been featured at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in 2009, The City of London Festival in 2011 and at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in 2016.

2014 saw the premiere of Jandamarra: Sing for the Country, a major new dramatic cantata based on the life of the Western Australian Indigenous resistance hero. Scored for solo baritone, choirs, an Indigenous ensemble of singers and dancers and orchestra, it was premiered by large forces including Gondwana Choirs and the Sydney Symphony. It has been hailed as a work of major cultural significance. Paul's Piccolo Concerto was featured in performances by the Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras in 2013 and was released on CD in the following year. This work was followed up by a Cello Concerto Dawn and Darkness for the SSO and a Trombone Concerto for WASO in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Paul has held many education roles, including Director of the Australian Composers School with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the director of the Composers Program as part of Gondwana Choirs' National Choral School. He holds the post of Senior Lecturer in the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney and is also the Artistic Chair of the Australia Ensemble based at the University of New South Wales.