Gordon Hamilton / composer

composer / conductor

composer / conductor

Conducting 'Red Live Breath' by Berlin-based Australian composer Cathy Milliken. In this ritualistic work, the choristers gather to sing short phrases, play stones, exchange sonorities with whirlies and interact with torches: all actions that set the space as a magical place. The text is taken from Gertrude Stein, Herbert Zbigniew and Cathy Milliken.

I quite like our national anthem, even though it gets a bad rap. It has satisfying rising & falling phrases and a clear structure. I arranged it a few years ago, wanting to explore some different harmonic possibilities.

This is a song I really connect with. Simple and direct lyrics and a melody with a beautiful shape. We were warming up in a gorgeous stone hall before the concert in Tecpán Cathedral (this was also the scene of the post-concert beans & tortillas 😋)

A new piece from 'The Singing Politician' The lyrics are borrowed from a speech by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Performed by The Australian Voices with Christa Powell, Gregory Daniel and Robert Davidson (from Topology). Commissioned by Tony Denholder and Scott Gibson.

Featuring music from Snap by Gordon Hamilton. Richard Gill invites students to play alongside the TSO and introduces the "big" cello solo featured in the work SNAP by Brisbane-based composer Gordon Hamilton and dedicated to TSO Principal Cellist, Sue-Ellen Paulsen.

‘Who Are We’ marvels at the enormity of the universe. The text is by the great scientist, communicator and atheist, Carl Sagan:

We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star
lost in a galaxy in some forgotten corner
of a universe containing far more galaxies than people.

After our performance at the BBC proms this year in Melbourne, Gordon and I decided to kick back with a whisky and a hangover and have a bit of a yarn about the whole "THUMPRINTS" project.

For this ANZAC Day, we offer 'Dark Hour', composed by Gordon Hamilton. The text is from Prime Minister Billy Hughes' off-the-cuff remarks at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1916. He was summing up the Australian experience at Gallipoli.

Ratchet Face (from Thum Prints) with Tom Thum and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

In Ghosts, the singers stand among the orchestral players and sing instructions: "semitone... different... darker... longer...halve the bow pressure". The choir of ghosts becomes self-aware and rebellious, wondering what brought them into existence, and whether they have to stick to the notes on the score.

In this electro-acoustic piece, Robert Davidson applies a microscope to sound. Using the words "we apologise" from then-Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's historic 2008 apology to aboriginal Australians for past mistreatment, Davidson creates a beautiful soundscape by slowing the audio down by 250 times.

Performed in the 2016 Queensland Youth Symphony Concert Series. Each of the three movements is based on the same short theme. The result: a sparkly concert overture in three sections. In the first movement, ‘Snap’ there is snap pizzicato everywhere – hopefully with minimal injury to instruments and players.

The Australian Voices sing Waltzing Matilda arranged and conducted by Gordon Hamilton.

From the composer, Rob Davidson: "When I heard Julia Gillard's parliamentary speech addressing misogyny, it struck me that behind the politics there was a lot of personal feeling being communicated. I wanted to put a frame around this slice of time, to heighten my perception of what was being said behind the words, in the intonation of the voice, and in the dynamics of what was being said in interjections and reactions. The resulting choral piece, in which the singers echo and support the Prime Minister's speech melodies, is initially quite humorous, as we are confronted with the melody that perhaps was not evident to us before. As the music goes on, it passes into something more serious, and (it is hoped) we hear the Prime Minister as a woman experiencing very real emotions. The Australian Voices are the ideal performers for such a work - ready for anything and enthusiastic to tackle any challenge, these brilliant young artists threw themselves into the highly unfamiliar approach to choral singing, with results that I find exhilarating as a composer."

From the composer, Robert Davidson: “I have been fascinated by the idea that each one of us has our own musical style, found in the way we speak. This composition is a snapshot of our Prime Minister’s musical style, in a rather sombre and personal mode. I was moved by the personal disclosure in this speech, and strongly drawn to the qualities, musical and verbal, of the repeated phrase “our failures towards Australia’s first people were a stain on our soul”.

Nicholas Ng's beautiful arrangement of the Chinese Lullaby 'Yuè ér míng', performed at the Xinghai Concert Hall in Guangzhou by The Australian Voices under Gordon Hamilton.

From the composer, Gordon Hamilton: "Scott (our producer) and I were chewing over ideas for new video compositions when he found Jack Shepherd's amazing article on BuzzFeed*, "The 50 Cutest Things That Ever Happened" (a cuteness oversupply on an almost cosmic scale!) It was the poetic, pseudo-religious cadence of the photo captions that suggested to me the (mis)use of anglican chant, or harmonised recitative: a chord is notated and the text sung quite freely to a natural speech rhythm. So there is a feeling of incanting a psalm. A psalm about Cute Baby Animals."

Our singers in TAV selected 6 beautiful landscape photographs and we encouraged composers to write miniature pieces that reflected these images. The brief to composers: use only the notes of C major and make it short!

During my piano studies I was fortunate to play several great modernist works including Michael Tippett's Second Piano Sonata, which uses his disjunct mosaic form: instead of music flowing through a logical journey of harmony, melody and tempo, he (and other composers, including Stravinsky, Messiaen and my own teacher Butterley) created tiny fragments of music -- totally contrasting in character -- which cascade into each other: an aural mosaic. Tra$h Ma$h is a composition constructed entirely from musical quotations lifted directly from modern pop songs and mashed together using a version of the Tippet technique (perfect for our 21st century attention-spans!) Deep down, I love trashy pop, and the singers in The Australian Voices are mostly under 21. We organised some parties to find the best (and worst) songs of 2011 to mash together in an ironic, fragmented treatment of pop, chopping it up and sticking it back together in a way that was never intended. By recycling elements of the mundane world, art can simultaneously be ridiculous, beautiful, humorous and transcendent. I've included a fragment of Eric Whitacre's beautiful work Sleep, which everyone knows as the composition from his "Virtual Choir 2.0" online performance (borrowed with affection, Eric!) Of course I didn't actually compose a single note of this piece. But what if we can temporarily think of composing not as "organising sounds" but as "organising memes"? An aural meme has cultural baggage wrapped up inside that might not have anything to do with its musical information. Tra$h Ma$h draws into question what words like "pop", "classical", "composer" and "choral" mean. It's a both a tribute to, and a parody of the current state of pop-culture.