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Melbourne String Ensemble Launches The Seasons Project

Reimagining a contemporary and diverse youth music organisation through newly commissioned music for string orchestra

Melbourne String Ensemble is excited to launch a bold project that will contribute to youth music in Australia. 

MSE has commissioned First Nations composers to write new works for string orchestra inspired by seasons from their traditional Countries. 

The Seasons project explores perceptions of the seasons, how they are changing, and how we tell their stories. MSE musicians are very excited to have the opportunity to participate in workshops and recordings with the composers. 

The first three commissions of the series by renowned didjeridu artist/composer William Barton, acclaimed composer and educator Christopher Sainsbury and Melbourne’s own composer singer-songwriter James Henry will be performed alongside Vivaldi’s much-loved Summer and Winter at the Melbourne Recital Centre on 30 April 2022.

MSE hopes to keep building this set of new works with commissions by composers including Brenda Gifford and Aaron Wyatt with the aim to tour all works regionally. MSE welcomes interest from venues and festivals. Please get in touch via the contact page. 

‘Melbourne String Ensemble is re-imagining itself, and I’m excited to see how deeply they have connected tradition and history with a strong and viable vision for future sustainability and growth.

We need to invest in young string players because they traverse the traditions of music. By working with composers in the ‘now’ they learn to bring knowledge of the past to music of the present…. This is how we build future-ready artists.’

Katy Abbott, composer

The Composers

William Barton

William Barton is a Kalkadunga man and acclaimed artist of extraordinary breadth and musicality. A virtuoso performer of the didjeridu, William has performed across Australia and at many landmark events. In his performances and compositions, William holds the awe and attention of audience members around the world.

The importance of William’s outstanding contribution has been recognised by many awards including the Artist Residency Peggy Glanville-Hicks Composers House (2020), Artist in Residence Melbourne Recital Centre (2019), Best Original Score for a Main Stage Production – The Long Forgotten Dream – Sydney Theatre Awards (2018), ARIA Best Classical Album – Kalkadungu: Music for Didjeridu and Orchestra (2012). William Barton is the 2021 recipient of the Australia Council Don Banks Music Award.

Visit William Barton's Website to learn more

Christopher Sainsbury

Christopher Sainsbury is an accomplished composer and a highly experienced music educator, and is Associate Professor in Composition at the Australian National University (ANU). He has made a sustained contribution to Australian music as a working composer in regional, community and professional music arenas for many years.

As an Indigenous person he maintains a commitment to lifting the profile of Indigenous Australian composers, and is founder and artistic director of the Ngarra-burria First Peoples Composers program 

In 2020 he won an Australian leading Classical/Jazz music award - the Inaugural APRA National Luminary Award, awarded for the impact the Ngarra-burria program has had on the music industry. He writes in various styles and genres, from simple solo instrumental works to large orchestral works, and from surf music to jazz. 

Visit Christopher Sainsbury's website to learn more

James Henry

James Henry is a composer, singer/songwriter and sound designer writing various blends of traditional Aboriginal and contemporary genres. His diverse skill set has seen him compose for Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choir and musical director for the Dreamtime at the G opening ceremonies, as musical director of 'Tanderrum' Melbourne Festival Opening Ceremonies, various theatre and dance productions.

Having worked closely with various communities reviving their languages through song and recently completing his fellowship learning About traditional Aboriginal music and finding ways to incorporate it in to contemporary contexts and genres. He is able to explore these avenues with his own compositions and commissions all the way from Techno to full orchestral pieces.

Visit James Henry's website to learn more

MSE Auditions

MSE Auditions now open

Melbourne String Ensemble acknowledges the Wurundjeri, Woi-Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, upon whose Country we are based and recognises their continuing connections to community, culture and country.  We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.