W hat comes across most profoundly when speaking to Australian composer Ross Edwards is the aura of quiet thoughtfulness he exudes. “I suppose I’m trying to find a ritual that works for me,” he says as we sit in his cosy studio, nestled at the back of the garden at his house in Balmain (the studio is an extension on an outdoor toilet, he tells me), with a keyboard, a computer, notes and fragments of scores pinned up on the walls, and leaves pressing against the windows. “I’m very interested in spiritual things, not in any conventional way – frankly the thought of going to churches just doesn’t appeal to me – but the world of the spirit is around us all the time.”

The soft-spoken composer, whose upcoming 75th birthday will be celebrated in a concert devoted to his work at Sydney’s City Recital Hall, has drawn on a plethora of spiritual ideas in his music, borrowing from religions the world over to create a music that is uniquely his own, deeply rooted in the natural sounds of the Australian environment.

When I speak to him he has just finished a commission slated to...

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