Music – the universal language. However in my experience, this phrase can have a vary shallow depth to it. Finding common ground amongst different cultures can be challenging when melodic, rhythmic and harmonic languages differ so greatly, or a rigidly defined. This week we were reminded that above all that rhythm is true meeting point for musicians from different cultural backgrounds, a springboard for new languages to emerge.

These past 10 days I participated in a residency as part of the Australian Art Orchestra’s Creative Music Intensive, set amongst the tranquil rainforest and Botanical Gardens of the Tanks Arts Centre in Cairns, North Queensland. 15 participants from around Australia and 4 musicians from Korea were part of the inaugural creative music workshop. The artistic faculty consisted bassist Christopher Hale, trumpeter/composer Peter Knight (artistic director), and the Australian/Korean ensemble ‘Chiri’; drummer Simon Barker, trumpeter Scott Tinkler and P’ansori singer Bae Il Dong. To bring you up to speed with the significance of these last three musicians, take a look at the preview to this inspiring documentary Intangible Asset #82, featuring these artists


The Creative Music Intensive template was based on the successful Banff Jazz and Creative Music Workshop in Canada, of which I attended in 2009 and 2011. The mornings consisted of a two-hour masterclass led by one of the faculty members. The afternoons were spent with the participants split up into ensembles in which faculty members would circulate and feed the group ideas to work on. The opportunity to spend time with the faculty members in a relaxed environment, just talking about music all day (and often long into the night with some beers and soju) was all part of the rich experience.


Themes that emerged during the week included the potentiality of performance. Particularly during Bae Il Dong’s masterclass, we witnessed how he harnesses every corner of his body to channel his energy and life force into his voice. Analogies he used to describe this process included utilizing lateral and longitudinal energy, thinking of his body as having a north and south directional flow of energy. He also explained that he considered his body to be like a syringe in which his core strength is analogous to the plunger in the syringe. For those that do not know this artists background, he is one of the world’s leading exponents in Korean traditional opera music, and trained for many years at the foot of a waterfall. He is a true inspiration to be around, and is both charismatic and genuine in sharing his wisdom.


Simon Barker’s masterclass similarly used analogies that could have come from an Asian master. He used the term ‘grip’ (which he took from saxophonist Tony Malaby) to describe a motif or rhythmic cell that he has worked on and able to adapt in many different musical contexts. Simon successfully disseminated a complex composition of Scott Tinkler using a polyrhythm of 5 over 7.


Scott Tinkler’s masterclass workshopped percussionist Greg Sheehan’s rhythm diamonds.


Christopher Hale was able to draw parallels between Korean music and Flamenco rhythmic cycles. Peter Knight covered his developed musical vocabulary in live electronic manipulations of feedback and trumpet extended techniques, as well as a composition masterclass.


One of the challenges was to ‘unlock’ musical language that transcends what we called the “world music drone”, which musicians would know well as being fun at the start but quickly becomes monotonous. For example, a participant from Ghana via Melbourne, Kofi, felt inclined to play an African drum rhythm throughout our ensemble rehearsals. Simon Barker was able to articulate the use of Sheehan’s diamonds to the congas whilst playing a pulse on a wood block using a foot pedal. This was a revelation for Kofi, who could see the applications of these rhythms in his music.


Extra curricular activities included keeping up to date with Simon Barker’s incredible barefoot running . He clocked up 120km throughout the week and didn’t even look tired! You can read more about his running (and drumming) on his blog here ( , a trip to the Great Barrier Reef and a day in the Daintree Rainforest and Port Douglas. Most of the evenings were spent at peoples’ accommodation, sharing ideas about what we had worked on throughout the day, cooking for each other, and of course beer and soju. The Australians prepared an Aussie barbeque with grilled salmon and snags (sausages), the Koreans made a selection of their delicious cuisine, and some friends prepared a Ghana fish special.


The highlight of the week was the final concert by the Korean musicians;

Min Young Woo (Janggu), Joohee Yoon (Haegum), JooAh Joon (Piri), Jeong Hwa Son (Gayaguem) with bassist Christopher Hale. The Korean musicians performed new music that built upon the ideas from the week, coupled with traditional forms, this represented a breakthrough for the musicians and the receptive Cairns audience and participants, who had been with them throughout the week and witnessed their journey. The second half of the concert featured Scott Tinkler’s new work The Return of Spring, featuring members of the Art Orchestra and the three core members of Scott, Simon and Il Dong. What and amazing week I can’t recommend this enough to anyone from around Australia or overseas. Check out the Australian Art Orchestra’s website and mailing list for updates on next year’s planned Creative Music Intensive.


Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Music Workshop – Level 2
Friday 29 August – 6.30pm
Tix – Adults – $20/ Seniors – $10/ Pensioner – $10/ Full -Time Student – $10
Book online at:
or purchase from City Recital Hall – Angle Place Sydney – ph: 8256 2222
(booking fees might apply)
media enquiries/interview requests – 0468 357 715
The Sydney Conservatorium Jazz Orchestra are:
Oliver Thorpe – guitar
David Allen – piano
James Heazelwood-Dayle – contrabass
Oliver Nelson – drums
Evan Harris, Mellissa Mony, Michael Avgenicos, Nish Manjanuth, Phillipa Murphy-Haste – saxophones
Ellie Shearer, Greg Chillcott, Frank Dasent, Jono Ramsey – trombones
Luke Stephens, James Power, Charles Casson, Will Endicot, Shota Matsumura – trumpets

One of Australia’s most celebrated youth jazz orchestra’s teams up with two of Australia’s leading yong jazz musicians to present an incredible celebration of Australian Music. Since its inception in the early 70s, the Sydney Conservatorium Jazz Orchestra has formed an alumni that features many of the leading lights in Australian Jazz. Comprising five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, guitar, piano, bass and drums, the “CJO” features many of Sydney’s finest young improvisers.
“Over the past five years, the standard of Jazz Orchestral studies has developed rapidly with an emphasis on collaborating with, and performing the music of leading international composers such as Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider, Bert Joris, Florian Ross, Jim McNeely, Darcy James Argue, Julian Arguelles and Dick Oatts to expose the students to the leading music and contemporary techniques required to perform Jazz Orchestral music at its highest level. These amazing young players have risen to the challenge on every level, and we aim to continue impressing audiences whenever we perform, with a level of sophistication normally reserved for professional Jazz”. The orchestra’s debut national tour in 2013 with Belgian based super composer, Bert Joris, was a tour de force. Conservatorium Jazz Orchestra Artistic Director David Theak has been a tireless advocate for large ensemble jazz in Australia through his work with the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra, as a teacher at the Sydney Conservatorium Jazz studies program, convenor of the National Big Band Composition Competition and as guest artist and artistic advisor with the West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra. Theak created the ‘Mothership’ as a young member of Sydney’s Jazzgroove scene and is now mentor to scores of emerging musicians nationally and internationally.

Joseph O’Connor is one of Australia’s most accomplished young jazz pianists and composers.  He was the 2013 winner of the prestigious National Jazz Award held annually at Wangaratta Jazz Festival, and was recently named the 2014 recipient of the Bell Award for young Australian jazz artist of the Year. He was also the winner of the 2011 National Big Band Composition Competition.Joseph holds a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours from the Queensland Conservatorium, where he majored in advanced performance. He was the highest achieving student in his graduating year and was awarded the Conservatorium medal. He is currently undertaking a PhD in musical performance at Monash University, researching ways that Ruth Crawford Seeger’s approach to dissonant counterpoint can inform his composition and improvisation. Joseph co-directs of the Bennetts Lane Big Band and performs original music with his own trio and quintet. His trio with Marty Holoubek and James McLean recently recorded a set of original music to be broadcast on ABC Jazztrack, that will be released in the second half of 2014. He is currently composing a large work to be premiered by the Monash Art Ensemble later this year under the direction of Paul Grabowsky. He will also perform later this year as a part of the Australian Art Orchestra’s Hardcore on the Fly concert series, curated by Scott Tinkler, and will participate in the Australian Art Orchestra’s Tanks creative music intensive in September. Joseph is in demand as a sideman and has performed alongside many emerging and established Australian jazz musicians including Allan Browne, Julian Wilson, Phil Rex, Scott Tinkler, Callum G’Froerer, James McLean, Paul Williamson and many others.
Sydney saxophonist/composer Jeremy Rose is a leading voice in contemporary jazz and creative music. He is described as ‘developing into a significant Australian voice’ (, ‘his compositions stand out from the pack’ (SMH) and that ‘his playing shows subtle glimpses of a mature master’ (The Australian). Most known for his work with iconic groups The Vampires and The Strides, Jeremy has released over 10 albums through his label Earshift Music and has performed and studied around the world including stints in London, New York, Oslo, Tokyo, Greece, Cuba, Bali and Berlin. Jeremy’s accolades include the 2009 Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz artist of the Year, a two-time finalist in the Art Music Awards and a two-time finalist in the Freedman Jazz Fellowship. Jeremy is currently undertaking a PhD (composition) under the supervision of Professor Matthew Hindson and Dr Christopher Coady, investigating local cultural and creative processes in the jazz scene. Jeremy has composed for a number of classical ensembles, including the SSO Fellowship, Ku-ringai Philharmonic, ABC Young Symphony award winner Nick Russoniello with Acacia Quartet and Compass Quartet. Jeremy was the selected composer for the inaugural Hatched Academy with acclaimed contemporary classical group Ensemble Offspring, and will participate in the Australian Art Orchestra’s Creative Intensive in Cairns in September.
This concert features a preliminary performance of Jeremy Rose’s major work ‘Iron in the Blood: music inspired by Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore’.
Iron in the Blood is an oratorio for jazz orchestra and narrators and provides an opportunity to explore Robert Hughes’ seminal masterpiece The Fatal Shore with a musical narrative. The work traces Australia’s founding through Britain’s colonial venture against a backdrop of incomprehensible hardship and how these experiences have helped shape modern Australia. “His account of Australia’s convict system, The Fatal Shore, is probably the best read Australian history. It exposed in Bob’s compelling prose the sadistic brutality bound up in our nation’s founding—a system that not only dispossessed and all but destroyed the native people but then flogged and tortured the prisoners it had brought to the other end of the world.” (Malcolm Turnbull, 2012) This project has been assisted by The Australia Council of the Arts and is to be recorded in January 2015 for an album release.


Lawn bowls, improvisation and musical games at Sizzle 2014

July 6, 2014

This is taken from the Ensemble Offspring website Lawn Bowling Clubs are an icon on the Australian suburban landscape. Black shining balls gracefully roll down their well manicured lawns. Our competitive nature rises to the surface in games that excite and bring a smile; the casual sharing of stories and catching up with mates over […]

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Ubud Gamelan studies May 2014

July 6, 2014

Earlier this month I spent a week studying Gamelan Music in Ubud in the mountains of Bali at Cudamani Music School. I watched rehearsals and performances of their orchestra and took lessons with a Balinese musician – Pasta – at the school. I learnt one of the songs played by the orchestra, taking time to […]

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Oneirology (Compass Quartet with Jackson Harrison) CD Reviews

September 13, 2013

John Hardaker –  “Oneirology  is a beautiful album from The Compass Quartet, a group who continue to amaze as they explore deeper and deeper into the possibilities that can bloom from the conversation between four saxophones.” Read more on > John McBeath – The Australian SYDNEY’S Compass Quartet, led by award-winning altoist Jeremy Rose, […]

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New Choral Work: Scenes of Wild Solitude

July 26, 2013

The second movement of my new choral work ‘Scenes of Wild Solitude’ will be premiered by Leichardt Express Chorus at the Italian Forum Theatre, Leichardt, on Sunday 4 August at 2pm. The new work takes its libretto from Watkin Tench’s account of the first colonial settlement in Sydney in 1788. More info from their website:

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Australasian Sax and Clarinet Conference Lecture ~ Oneirology

July 14, 2013

This presentation formed part of a lecture I gave at the 2013 Australasian Saxophone and Clarinet Conference at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. The lecture discusses my suite for Compass Quartet with pianist Jackson Harrison, which was featured in a performance at the conference. Compass Quartet, as the name suggests, takes the compass as an […]

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New work: ‘Between Worlds’ for string quartet and saxophone

April 4, 2013

Well done to saxophonist Nick Russoniello (pictured above) and Sydney Camerata Quartet on doing a great job of performing my new work ‘Between Worlds’ last weekend on ABC Classic FM. If you missed out and want to hear it (or want to listen to it again!), it will be available online for the next three […]

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The Strides + Special Guests in Campbelltown on 02/18/13

January 3, 2013
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University of Sydney News Article

December 11, 2012

PhD student and musician Jeremy Rose vamps it up This article was written Kath Kenny and published on 28 November 2012 Sydney University Website Despite his passing resemblance to the Twilight star Robert Pattinson, saxophonist Jeremy Rose is quick to clarify that his band The Vampires predates our current cultural obsession with the creatures of […]

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