Gordon Hamilton / composer

composer / conductor

composer / conductor

...a superbly judged musical vernacular from Hamilton, blending traditionally conceived orchestral textures with more hard-edged gestures... wildly entertaining, innovative and brilliantly unconventional...
— Limelight Magazine
Thum Prints, a world-first concerto for beatboxer and orchestra, is one of the most successful new large-scale Australian works of recent decades...
— Sydney Morning Herald
One of the QSO’s secret weapons is Gordon Hamilton, a musical chameleon with bonafides in the territories of Hip Hop and Classical music.
— ArtsHub
(Photo: Pat O'Neill)

(Photo: Pat O'Neill)

As a composer, recent works by Gordon Hamilton subvert expectations of the orchestra by introducing foreign elements. He conducted his 2015 concerto for beatboxer and orchestra 'Thum Prints' at the 2016 BBC Proms AU with star beatboxer Tom Thum – a work which has since been taken up by numerous orchestras world-wide. Recently Gordon traveled to Antarctica to compose ‘Far South’, a symphony – to be premiered jointly by Tasmanian & Melbourne Symphony Orchestras and the London Mozart Players – in which field recordings of ice, ocean and whales interact with the orchestra. His 2014 work 'Ghosts in the Orchestra' places a choir among the orchestral players, prompting them with sung instructions. In his '482 Variations on a Very Short Theme' (2016) a brief Beatles recording plays; the orchestra latches onto three notes, spinning them out into 482 (ultra short!) micro variations. In 'Action Hero' (commissioned by WDR Funkhausorchester Cologne) a Schwarzenegger speech plays through a speaker while the orchestra joins in. In 2018 he won accolades for 'Macquarie', an orchestral-hiphop collaboration with rapper-poet Luka Lesson which interrogates the legacy of the famous Scottish Major General Lachlan Macquarie.

In recent seasons Gordon has conducted the Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, WDR Funkhausorchester (Cologne), the St. Christofer Chamber Orchestra (Lithuania), Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie (Konstanz), Nürnberger Symphoniker and the Malaysian Philharmonic.

Gordon has arranged and conducted several crossover projects, including with Australian Hip Hop acts Horrorshow and Thundamentals, and with Cuban jazz pianist Marialy Pacheco. Arts Hub has described him as "one of the QSO's secret weapons … with bonafides in the territories of Hip Hop and Classical music." In 2019 he will conduct the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra at Dark Mofo Festival for ‘Riceboy Sleeps’ by Jónsi (of Sigur Rós) and Alex Sommers.

Also known for his work as a choral conductor and composer, Gordon took over in 2009 as Artistic Director of one of Australia’s foremost vocal ensembles, The Australian Voices (TAV). Gordon has led TAV in its mission of commissioning innovative music by Australian composers. Of their 2013 concert in New York City, the New York Times wrote "... it was as if the gates of heaven had opened." They have released albums with Warner Classics (2013) and ABC Classics (2016) as well as a songbook with Edition Peters (2013). Gordon's choral opera 'MOON' (2011) toured with TAV to Australia, Germany and to the Edinburgh Fringe and was named by The Herald Scotland as “one of the outstanding musical surprises of Fringe 2012.” In 2014 TAV made international headlines with their set of videos of musicalisations by composer Rob Davidson of political speeches, including 'Not Now, Not Ever!' – based on former PM Julia Gillard’s oft-quoted ‘misogyny’ speech.

Originally from Newcastle, Gordon studied at the University of Newcastle Conservatorium (2000-4) under esteemed composer Nigel Butterley. He is a represented composer at the Australian Music Centre.


BRIEF VERSION

As a composer, several recent works by Gordon Hamilton subvert expectations of the orchestra, including 'Thum Prints' (for beatboxer Tom Thum and orchestra, 2015) and '482 Variations on a Very Short Theme' (2016). His 'Action Hero' (2016) pairs the recorded voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger with orchestra. In December 2018 he traveled to Antarctica to compose a symphony.

In 2019 Gordon will see conduct WDR Funkhausorchester, the Nürnberger Symphoniker, SWP Konstanz and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

Gordon has arranged and conducted several crossover projects, including with Hiphop duo Horrorshow, Thundamentals and Cuban pianist Marialy Pacheco. In 2018 he collaborated with rapper-poet Luka Lesson on 'Macquarie', an orchestral-hiphop interrogation of the legacy of Lachlan Macquarie. In 2019 Gordon will conduct ‘Riceboy Sleeps’ with Jónsi from Sigur Rós and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

After freelancing for five years in Germany, Gordon took over in 2009 as Artistic Director of The Australian Voices (TAV). Of their 2013 concert in New York City, the New York Times wrote "... it was as if the gates of heaven had opened." Gordon's choral opera 'MOON' (2011) toured with TAV to Australia, Germany and to the Edinburgh Fringe. In 2014 TAV made international headlines with their video of Rob Davidson's 'Not Now, Not Ever!' – a musicalisation of former PM Julia Gillard’s famous ‘misogyny’ speech.


Download hi-res press shots here.