Biographical Note

Barry Italy Portrait

Barry Conyngham was born in Sydney Australia.

He studied with Peter Sculthorpe in Australia and with Toru Takemitsu in Japan.

He has received numerous awards, prizes and grants for composition, including Churchill (1970), Harkness (1972-74), Australia Council (1974-5), and Senior Fulbright (1982) Fellowships.  He has an ARIA, two Sounds Australian Critics Awards and two Maggs Awards.

In 1997 his contribution to his country was recognised when he became a Member of the Order of Australia.

Conyngham has 50 compositions under contract (to 1993) with Universal Edition ,  and  more than 30 available through Hal Leonard (Melbourne). There are over 30 recordings featuring his compositions (most notably a complete CD by the London Symphony Orchestra  on Cala (London)and, more recently, the recording by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra of PASSING on Move (Australia), his work of dedication to Takemitsu).

With premieres and performances of his works in Japan, North and South America, Europe, the UK and Australia, Conyngham is one of Australian international composers.  He has over eighty published works and over thirty recordings including those by the London, New Zealand, Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, as well as ensembles from Japan, the UK, Europe, America and Australia.

Premieres in the last few years include the orchestral work Cala Tuent (2008) in Spain, Australia and Hong Kong, and the double bass concerto Kangaroo Island (2009) in the United States. 2011 saw premieres of Fallingwater for two bassoons and orchestra, Showboat Kalang for the Australia Ensemble and Gardener of Time a special  tribute to conductor Hiroyuki Iwaki for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. In November 2012, his first Symphony, commissioned by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra was premiered in the Sydney Opera House. In 2014 DrySpell…Deluge was premiered in Vienna by Ensemble Reconsil, followed by a large work a reflection on war and national character, for Ten Soloists, and Orchestra Anzac. August 2015, Time  and Tide a work for Piano Trio and Choral Ensemble and in October, Gathering for 8-24 cellos were given their first performances.

Conyngham has pursued a number of themes or images in his music. Most predominantly  music about being Australian. His first published work, CRISIS: THOUGHTS IN A CITY (for orchestra UE1968) contrasts the calm thoughts of an individual with the sounds and excitement of a city. VOSS (1972-unpublished) and FROM VOSS (UE1973) are musical reflections on the novel of Australian author Patrick White. Many subsequent works are studies of individuals in  an Australian landscape or context – see for example the orchestral works MIRAGES (UE1978), VAST (UE1987), DAWNING (1996), and the concertos SOUTHERN CROSS for Violin & Piano (UE1981), WATERWAYS for Viola (UE1990),  MONUMENTS  for piano & synthesiser (UE1990), CLOUDLINES for Harp (UE1991), and ABOUT K.I. for Double Bass(2009). His theatre and vocal works also reflect this interest in the Australian personality: EDWARD JOHN EYRE (UE1971-73), BONY ANDERSON (1978), FLY (UE1984), ANTIPODES (UE1985), BENNELONG (1988),  FIX (2001-2004) and ELECTRIC LENIN (2006).

Another  sources of inspiration for pieces is music about things Japanese. Example are: ICE CARVING for amplified Solo Violin & strings (UE1970), SHADOWS OF NOH for Double Bass (UE1979),  BASHO for Soprano & Ensemble (UE1980), and AFTERIMAGES  for Koto Percussion & Small Orchestra (UE1993). More recently the Japanese theme is linked to pieces celebrating friends and the passing of time, such as the orchestral works PASSING (1999) for Toru Takemitsu , DREAMS GO WANDERING STILL (2004) for Peter Sculthorpe, NOW THAT DARKNESS (2005) both based on  Japanese Haikus, and the soon-to-be GARDNER OF TIME (2010) for Hiroyuki Iwaki.

Obvious from the above, and reinforced by an examination of Conyngham’s entire output, is the large number of works focusing on particular instruments often written with specific outstanding practitioners in mind: Bertram Turetzky, Jane Manning, Lyndon Terracini, Roger Woodward, Wanda Wilkomirska,Florian Kitt, Alice Giles, Tamas Ungar, Satsuki Odamura, Teddy Tahou-Rhodes, Ananda Sukarlan,  and Robert Nairn.

Three conductors have also played a major role in premiering his orchestral and theatre works: John Hopkins (ICE CARVING (1970), WATER...FOOTSTEPS...TIME...(1970)m HORIZONS (1980), FLY (1984), & VAST (1988) CLOUDLINES (1990)) Geoffrey Simon (ICECARVING (1970), MIRAGES (1978), MONUMENTS (1990),  DAWNING (1996) CALA TUENT (2008)) Hiroyuki Iwaki (SOUTHERN CROSS (1981), ANTIPODES(1984), BUNDANON (1994) & PASSING(1999)).

© Barry Conyngham 2015