Conyngham, Barry

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Barry Conyngham


Born: August 27, 1944

Country: Sydney, Australia

Studies: University of Sydney

Teachers: Peter Sculthorpe, Toru Takemitsu


Barry Conyngham was born in Sydney, Australia. He studied with Peter Sculthorpe in Australia and with Toru Takemitsu in Japan.

Combining a distinguished academic career with his life as a composer, he has spent time at many prestigious institutions around the world. From 1993-2000 he was Foundation Vice-Chancellor of Southern Cross University. During 2000-2001 he held the position of Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University, after which he turned to full-time composition. In February 2011 he commenced his present appointment as Dean of the Faculty of VCA and MCM at the University of Melbourne.

He has received numerous awards, prizes and grants for composition, including Churchill (1970), Harkness (1972-74), Australia Council (1975), and Senior Fulbright (1982) Fellowships. He has an ARIA and two Sounds Australian Critics Awards and has been twice recognised at the Paris Rostrum of Composers. In 1997 his contribution to his country was recognised when he became a Member of the Order of Australia.

Conyngham has over 70 compositions under contract with Universal Edition (London, Vienna), Boosey and Hawkes (Sydney, London) and Hal Leonard (Melbourne). There are over 30 recordings featuring his compositions - most notably a complete CD by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Performances of his works in Europe, Asia, the USA and South America indicate the international acceptance of Conyngham's music. In Australia, the Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras have all premiered new works by him since 2004.

2006 saw the premieres of Cathedral in Edinburgh, a chamber opera, Electric Lenin, commissioned by Lyndon Terracini, and To the Edge, a work for the Melbourne-based chamber orchestra, Pro Arte Australia.

In 2007, two established works, the keyboard concerto Monuments (1989) and the orchestral piece Passing (1999), were featured by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, respectively. The latter work has been recorded for release on CD by the NZSO. This year also saw the completion of his third String Quartet Bushfire Dreaming for the Modigliani String Quartet of France.

In 2008 he received the prestigious Albert Maggs Award Commission and the chamber work Dry Spell was premiered in Melbourne. Later that year, the large orchestral work Cala tuent, featuring the music of the Balearic Islands of Spain and commissioned by media company Grupo Serra, had its premiere season on three continents with conductor Geoffrey Simon. On October 10, the folk pipers Pep Toni Rubio (fabiol) and Joan Frontera (xeremies) joined with the Orquestra Simfonica de Balears for the world premiere in Palma Mallorca, Spain, with projections of specially commissioned paintings by Nil Burwiz. The following month, the Queensland Symphony gave the Australian premiere, and the Pro Arte Orchestra of Hong Kong (Music Director Ho Man Choi) performed the Asian premiere in Hong Kong with Chinese suona player Ge Li performing the Spanish folk material.

The Double Bass Concerto Kangaroo Island, featuring bassist Robert Nairn, was premiered in Boston and Pennsylvania in April 2009. His contribution to Jane Sheldon's 'The Origin Cycle', Darwin: Comparing the Eye to a Telescope, was premiered in October 2009. Major recent commissions include The Gardener of Time for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, celebrating the life of conductor Hiroyuki Iwaki and premiered in November 2011, Showboat Kalang for the Australia Ensemble, and Symphony, premiered by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2012.[1]

Works for Percussion

Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra (Conyngham)Multiple Percussion; Orchestra
Six (Conyngham)Percussion Sextet; Orchestra
Three (Conyngham)Percussion Duo; Strings