Melbourne composer and pianist Callum Watson is one of 16 young composers heading to the Netherlands in February next year. Selected to participate in the prestigious 25th International Young Composers Meeting, Watson and his fellow composers will create new works for orkest de ereprijs, a leading ensemble for new music in the Netherlands. Participants will also attend rehearsals, lectures and individual coaching sessions with established composers, and at the end of their stay will see their works performed by the orchestra at a special concert. A jury will then award three composers with commissions.

Callum Watson. Photo supplied

“I am humbled to have been given this amazing opportunity,” said Watson. “Europe has such a thriving new music culture in addition to its long history of master composers from Beethoven to Bach. This opportunity can only influence my practice for the better”.

Young composers up to 30 years of age and of any nationality are eligible to apply for the International Young Composers Meeting. The three commissions up for grabs include the orkest de ereprijs commission (approximately $AU 4000), calling for a new work for the orchestra; the ISM Apeldoorn commission for a solo work for the Internationale Stichting Masterclass Apeldoorn (approximately $AU 2500), and the NJO commission, granted by the Dutch National Youth Orchestra for its 2019 Summer Festival (approximately $AU 4000).

Watson is a recent graduate of Monash University, where he studied with Mary Finsterer, Paul Grabowsky, Thomas Reiner and Jobst Liebrecht. He was awarded the prestigious Margaret Schofield Scholarship in 2015 for his work Clash of Cultures, scored for didgeridoo, sitar and bagpipes. The work received its premiere at Melba Hall, Melbourne University. As Musical Director for Western Edge Youth Arts, a community youth performance company in Melbourne, Watson has served as composer for several theatre works. An experienced classical and jazz pianist, he recently produced an album of chamber music called Echoes of Earth, and has performed in solo shows at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

Callum Watson performs Christmas At The Piano at the Black Hatt in Geelong, December 7