Over 110 students joined Richard Gill and Karen Carey for the pilot year of the new education initiative.

The inaugural Limelight Australian Composition Seminar, founded by Limelight publisher and composer Andrew Batt-Rawden and two of the nation’s most cherished music educationalists, conductor Richard Gill, and Karen Carey, held at Santa Sabina College in the Sydney suburb of Strathfield, saw over 110 students from across Australia learning to become the next generation of Australian composers. The unique education initiative, spearheaded by Limelight magazine, is aimed at school students who are either looking to advance their music learning, or who are preparing for HSC examinations.

The students, from school years 8 – 11 from across Sydney and as far afield as Cairns, had the opportunity to study five new works, specially commissioned for the event, by acclaimed emerging Australian composers Alex Pozniak, Holly Harrison, Anastasia Pahos, Andrew Batt-Rawden and Nick Vines. In addition to the professional compositions, 36 students also provided short pieces they had composed to be workshopped and recorded during the day under the direction of Richard Gill. On hand to perform were Australia’s foremost contemporary music group, Ensemble Offspring, ARIA Award-winning composer and pianist Sally Whitwell, and the Acacia String Quartet. During the seminar, with characteristic enthusiasm, Gill described the five professional composers commissioned for the seminar as “living treasures,” adding, “We are so lucky to be here. I can promise you, there is no composition seminar like this, being done at this level, anywhere else in the country.”

Richard Gill and students taking part in the seminar

Speaking of the success of the day, which culminated in a concert performance of the five commissioned works, Karen Carey said, “This experience for students and teachers was education at its highest level.  The collaboration of professional partners enabled all who attended to have a very positive learning experience and the realisation that we can create wonderful things with a carefully inspired scaffolded process.”

The success of this pilot year will be built upon for 2016, as the Limelight Australian Composition Seminar is rolled out nationally by new co-producers, Musica Viva. Speaking of the exciting new partnership, Limelight publisher Andrew Batt-Rawden said, “For students to be able to access professional performers of this calibre is a very unique and valuable experience. We’re really looking forward to presenting the program next year, with the support of our new partners, in both Victoria as well as New South Wales, with a view of expanding to other states down the track.”

To find out more about the 2016 Australian Composition Seminar contact Andrew Batt-Rawden at [email protected]

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