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The Cybec Foundation

MSO 21st Century Composers' Program













The Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers' Program is organised and run by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
      For more information

The program is advertised annually, and several young composers are selected to take part in the program. Each composer is commissioned to compose a 10-minute piece, which is publicly performed by the Orchestra during the Metropolis Concert Series. Each composer is mentored by an established Australian composer during the composition period.

The program was introduced in 2003. The following composers have participated in the program:




Roxanne Della-Bosca: Zden: Fanfare for Self

  Alicia Grant: Cross Currents


Peter McNamara: Die Nacht fällt


Anthony Pateras: Chromatophore for 8 amplified strings




Taran Carter: Moondani Music


Daniel Rojas: Festival AfroAndino




Tristan Coelho: Glass Canvas


Cyrus Meurant: Tableaux


Nicholas Ng: Secret of the Golden Flower: Spirals


Natalie Williams: Four portraits of Scheherazade. A musical impression of three poems by Kate Middleton


Tristan Coelho, Natalie Williams & Nicholas Ng (2005)

The Cybec 21st Century Composers team 2005

Conductor Martyn Brabbins, Composer Tristan Coelho, Poet Kate Middleton, Composer Natalie Williams, Composer Nicholas Ng, Performer Warwick Lynch

Natalie Williams' work was inspired by Kate Middleton's poems, and Warwick Lynch produced special sound effects for Nicholas Ng. (Cyrus Meurant was unable to be present.)



Adrian Mansukhani Within Shadows of Light


James Wade Te Matua Ngahere


Anne Cawrse & Julian Langdon (2007)

Adrian Mansukhani & James Wade (2006)

The following composers completed the 2007 program:



Anne Cawrse


Julian Langdon


The following composers were selected for the 2008 program:



Paul Castles: Aurelian unturning


Robert Dahm: Noumen


Nicole Murphy


James Rushford


Robert Dahm & Paul Castles (2008)

The following composers were selected for the 2009 program:



Lorenzo Alvaro: Light without heat


Elias Constantopedos: Moda


Benjamin McDonald


Mark Wolf


The following composers were selected for the 2010 program:



Amy Bastow: Lunatic Fringe


Annie Hsieh: Icy Disintegration


Alex Pozniak: Particle Transform


Charlie Sdraulig: Still


The following composers were selected for the 2011 program:



Evan Lawson: Prelude & Jason's Song


Luke Paulding: The air a bright shatter of wings


Joseph Twist: I Dance Myself to Sleep


Chris Williams: A Strange Communion


Elias Constantopedos & Lorenzo Alvaro (2009)


Benjamin McDonald & Mark Wolf (2009)

The following composers were selected for the 2012 program:



Simon Charles: Atropos

This piece was inspired by Thoreau's book Walden, which is a meditation on the experience of solitude.


Lisa Illean: Veils

Lisa wrote this to try to recreate the feel of a noisy florist's shop, where she once worked, in which a very distorted radio occasionally injected snatches of music into the general racket.


Daniel Portelli: Finding Kensho

This piece pictures the Zen journey through self-doubt to experience Kensho, or seeing one's true self.


Catherine Sullivan: Vidova Gora - Svitanje

In this Catherine recaptures the experience of sunrise, while she was on the way to climb Vidova Gora, a mountain on the island of Brac.


Daniel Portelli, Lisa Illean, Simon Charles & Catherine Sullivan

The following composers were selected for the 2013 program:



Holly Harrison: Frumious

Inspired by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, Frumious, by toggling frequently between styles, explores the structural ideas of both the Alice and Sylvie books, where abrupt changes in location and conversation generate a fragmented dreamworld in which characters continually slip in and out of dreaming and waking states.


Jeanette Little: Acid dream

Acid dream takes inspiration from the writings of American sci-fi writer Philip K Dick, whose stories typically focus on the fragile nature of reality and illusion, and often turn into surreal fantasies as characters discover that their world is not as it seems.


Sam Penderbayne: Utopia

Utopia is a comment on the notion of building contemporary classical music on a bedrock of tradition stretching back hundreds of years. It is about the period between finishing formal education and establishing one's self as an original artist -- a sign off to the past and a promise to explore the future.


Lachlan Skipworth: Afterglow

Afterglow depicts the special beauty of dusk, the pervading sense of stillness as the colours in the air slowly shift and fade, quietly settling before the darkness comes. The piece conjures not only the slow turning of colours, but also the soft rustle of leaves after a gust of wind, and the bubbling foam that follows a broken wave.


Holly Harrison, Lachlan Skipworth & Samuel Penderbayne
(Clockwise from top left)



Andrew Aronowicz Strange Alchemy

In more ancient times, alchemists sought to manipulate and alter the properties of matter. Like the mysterious practice of changing base metal to gold, this piece in essence concerns orchestral transformations. Textures shift and change from one state to another: clarity to obscurity, density to spaciousness, movement to stillness. Melodies float in and out like threads of ink in water, collecting together to form startling masses of solid colour, and then dissipating into the ethereal smoke-like world generated by a pair of cymbals. This work will be performed in the Metropolis Series


Lisa Cheney The Pool and the Star

The Pool and the Star is inspired by a poem of the same name by the late Australian poet, Judith Wright. Cheney says: 'I have often found Wright's work a stimulus for creative expression, and on this occasion it was the vivid imagery and evocative language in The Pool and the Star invoked my musical response'. This work will be performed in the Metropolis Series

The work loosely captures the narrative of the poem in which the pool, in love, each night awaits patiently for the rising of a star to bring to life the time and waters from which the pool gathers itself together. Venturing through and between two worlds, the music depicts earth and water on one hand, and on the other, sky and space. Accordingly, the piece is through-composed commencing with a portrayal of calm and tranquillity and progressing through a series of changes of varying intensity, returning in the closing bars to a mood akin to that of the opening.


The Cybec 21st Century Composers 2014

Andrew Aronowicz,   Kym Dillon,   Elliott Hughes,   Lisa Cheney



Kym Dillon Uber Creatorum

This work refers to a concept that has been widely discussed within philosophy and theology for millennia. It concerns a pursuit commonly referred to as 'natural theology' - the idea that one can reason from the data of the natural universe towards an understanding of whether or not its ultimate origin is due to the intentions of a divine agent, and whether anything can be known about such an agent. It is a field that has been explored by a great variety of thinkers throughout history, with some of the earliest instances found in writings by Plato and Aristotle.

The title translates as 'Book of Creation', or 'Book of the Creatures', and evokes the imagery of someone reading the cosmos like a tome, seeking to uncover truth about the identity, nature and intentions of its author. The work opens in a state of creative saturation, where any concrete distinction between ideas is difficult to detect. As the piece progresses, these ideas are solidified and simplified, as step-by-step the creative decisions that were made are unravelled.

The various parameters of music such as register, orchestration and harmony become more focused in attempts to move closer and closer to the original foundational ideas. As these ideas are finally found existing in their original simplest form, the piece comes to a close.

Dylan says 'Whether or not the work's journey back through my creative process is detectable to the listener, my hope is that the pursuit of itself is an enjoyable and worthwhile one, and that it also invites reflection on the ideas that inspired this music'.


Elliott Hughes And Then It Just Happens

This piece is in response to three separate but related incidents covered by the Australian media. Each incident involved an innocent victim, who would never expect to be subjected to the abuse they received in such a public situation. Disturbingly, while looking back over the media coverage of the story, it became apparent that the content of the events was not as important as the profile of the victim. Essentially, a higher profile victim who suffered less vicious abuse received far greater public attention and larger public reaction than a lower profile victim who had endured a far worse situation. This piece encourages the listener to give each event equal amounts of attention.

Throughout the music, excerpts from interviews with the victim are heard against a different mood for each story. The orchestra reacts to these excerpts in a variety of ways, though there are common threads that represent the many similarities to the events and responses.

The opening section is an aggressive, dense combination of colours and rhythms, before it settles into a fast tempo with changing meters and accents. It then moves towards a slower, darker mood with the lower instruments of the orchestra dominating the texture. The high instruments returned to build towards a climax then gradually transition into the second section, announced by a change to more open harmonies.

The second section holds a steady pulse throughout, layering rhythmic cells as the orchestra and the voice recordings synchronise, then fall apart. The third section continues in a similar vein, with many solos from the brass and woodwinds appearing through the texture. The music builds towards a final climax as all three recorded voices are heard together, before the orchestra has the final say with one last burst of energy.



  Where links are shown they lead to biographical information on the composer.


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