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Katy Abbott: Composer and Australia Council’s New Music Fellow

Sep 13, 2018

Katy Abbott began composing as a late starter at the age of 27. Twenty years later she is highly regarded nationally with an international profile also on the rise. Katy’s compositions have been performed, published and recorded around the world, brought to life by many of leading Australian ensembles including Halcyon, The Song Company, Syzygy Ensemble, Ironwood Chamber Ensemble and several major symphony orchestras. Her works have been played in UK, Europe, Asia and the USA and featured in many Australian and International music festivals including the International Alliance of Women in Music (IAWM) conference in Beijing, LunArt Festival (USA), VIVID Festival (Syd), and the Melbourne, Perth and Canberra International Festivals.

Two orchestral works which receive numerous and repeated performances are The Peasant Prince (2009, commissioned Adelaide Symphony Orchestra), the story of Mao’s Last Dancer Li Cunxin, with a TSO/ABC Classics recording pending). Introduced Species (2014, commissioned for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), explores the work of Australian artist Matthew Quick and the North Pacific Ocean’s Garbage Patch/Trash Vortex which recently received nine performance by Sydney Symphony/VIVIDSyd.  Abbott also has four solo albums on ABC Classics, Tall Poppies and MOVE records.

Katy’s Fellowship entails dedicated time to make deliberate and thoughtful strategic decisions about the next 5 – 10 years of her career and practice. The Fellowship will solidify and reinforce her thoughts for career progression.  Katy states;

“The timing of this fellowship couldn’t be better. It provides me with time and resources to develop two significant works and to travel internationally with exisiting orchestral pieces.  The creation of a large work can be career-defining, and the Fellowship offers me the opportunity in terms of time and space to compose two more significant pieces in my Hidden Thoughts series. This body of work aligns my artistic and personal values and seems to resonate with the broader community in ways that I didn’t expect. Large works such as these require depth. layering and structural integrity, Through the Fellowship, I now have the tools that we all crave in the creative arts; to ensure that the foundations are strong and the delivery is unencumbered.”

Katy aims to create a distinct space for herself in the Australian musical landscape as a composer who writes meaningful, accessible, well-crafted works that have a sense of existing together as a body of work. It will further develop her profile as an established mid-career composer who writes large-scale works for a general audience.

During this time she will compose two major works whilst in residency in Australia and abroad. Hidden Thoughts ™ is a series of works using the hidden thoughts of various collections of people for a new composition. People are surveyed (anonymously) and responses are chosen and set to music. She will also travel to connect with international Symphony Orchestras (Education and Learning) to enhance the presentation outcomes for her Pacific Rim Orchestral Project across multiple cities in Canada and the U.S.

Katy’s Fellowship program begins with the rehearsals and premiere in 2019 of Hidden Thoughts with The Song Company and Syzygy Ensemble.  This is the first part of a new three-part body of work that she will further develop, with Hidden Thoughts 2 (for Flinders Quartet, voice and narrator) to premiere in 2020.