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13 September 2013

John Colborne-Veel (1945-2013)

John Colborne-Veel Image: John Colborne-Veel  

Composer John Colborne-Veel has passed away on 25 August 2013 at the age of 68. A prolific composer and arranger, Colborne-Veel was at home with a wide range of musical styles, from jazz to film and TV music, liturgical music, as well as music for the concert stage, ballet and theatre.

Born in Melbourne in 1945, John Colborne-Veel tried various instruments before settling on trombone as a teenager - his first jazz compositions date from this time. Called up for National Service, he was sent to Vietnam for two years, then returned to Australia where he began to study music professionally at NSW Conservatorium of Music. In the mid 1970s he went on to study composition full-time with Dallas Haslem.

A skillful jazz trombonist, Colborne-Veel worked with his own groups as well as Graeme Bell's band and the Ray Price Quintet in the mid-to-late 1970s. From 1980 onwards, he increasingly dedicated his time to composing. Out of his several liturgical masses, St Mary - A Festival Mass with Jazz Soloists (1984) had numerous public performances in Sydney's catholic churches. Among his other large-scale works are Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra (composed for a long-time colleague Paul Furniss), Concerto for Contrabassoon and Strings, a five-movement jazz suite Toad Hall as well as four saxophone quartets.

John Colborne-Veel represented Australia at several Asian Composers' League Conferences in the mid-1990s. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he served as President of the Australian Fellowship of Composers. A colleague from this time, Dawn Nettheim, former secretary of the Australian Fellowship of Composers, remembers him as talented musician who had a wide range of interests:

'John was a talented musician, who played many instruments, but his speciality was the trombone. He composed for all styles and all genres, but his favourite was jazz. He was a gentle, modest and generous man whom I was privileged to know for a few short years, and who is remembered with great affection by the jazz fraternity of Sydney.'

Colborne-Veel also presented a monthly Australian music program on 2MBS FM 102.5 from 1990 to 2000.

AMC resources

John Colborne-Veel - AMC profile

Recordings of Colborne-Veel's music available from the AMC Shop:
Fifteen descriptive pieces - MP3 (available also on Tall Poppies CD Lift Off - Elpis Liossatos plays Australian piano music for children)
Seven scenes from the ballet 'Tiger Jim' - included on the CD Music from the Fellowship of Australian Composers


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