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Katy Abbott : Represented Artist

I am an artist who uses music to tell stories of heart and courage. I seek to unpack the human side of life and give voice to those without one as well as support artists to have their own strong voices in the world...

Random Audio Sample: Midnight songs : for flugel horn, trombone, guitar, loop pedals & delay by Katy Abbott, from the CD Punch

Photo of Katy Abbott

Photo: Pia Johnson

Artist website: http://www.katyabbott.com

Composer and The Artists' Mentor, Dr Katy Abbott is forensically curious about what makes us tick. Her music leads the listener through a narrative of sound, exploring concepts of home, place, connection and human nature, frequently exhibiting a cheeky humour and cleverly juxtaposing contemporary flavours on traditional settings.

Abbott's compositions have been performed, published and recorded around the world, brought to life by many of leading Australian chamber ensembles including the major Australian orchestras and chamber ensembles including Syzygy Ensemble, Flinders Quartet, Halcyon, Ensemble Offspring and Sutherland Trio.

Her works have been performed around the world and featured in many Australian and International music festivals, most recently at PASIC, Music Academy of the West: Summer Festival, MONA and Canberra International Music Festival.

A versatile creative talent, her body of work incorporates orchestra, chamber and music for voice, an area where she exhibits a particular flair. She completed her PhD in 2007 including a guide to writing for the voice as her thesis, working with Brenton Broadstock and Linda Kouvaras at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne. Several of her works appear on the AMEB, ANZCA and VCE/HSC syllabi.

Abbott has been awarded the 2019 Paul Lowin Song-Cycle Prize for Hidden Thoughts 1: Do I Matter?, the 2013 Boston Metro Opera 'Gold Medal for Art-Song' for her song cycle The Domestic Sublime and the 2011 Albert H. Maggs Award for Composition amongst others. She also spent time at Banff at the Centre for the Arts, Bundanon Trust and UKARIA Cultural Centre.

Two orchestral works which receive numerous and repeated performances are The Peasant Prince (ASO, 2009) the story of Mao's Last Dancer. Introduced Species (MSO, 2013), which explores the work of Australian artist Matthew Quick and the North Pacific Ocean's Garbage Patch/Trash Vortex.

Abbott has five solo discs: Sunburnt Aftertones: The Chamber Music of Katy Abbott (Move Records), The Domestic Sublime: the vocal music of Katy Abbott (ABC Classics) and Famous (Leeward Side Records). Punch: the Brass Music of Katy Abbott (ABC Classics) and The Peasant Prince (ABC Classics with TSO + Li Cunxin). Her scores are published by Reed Music, Promethean Editions (NZ) and The Australian Music Centre.

Hidden Thoughts 1: Do I Matter? (2017) is a festival piece based on the 'hidden thoughts' of women collected in an anonymous survey. An interview and ABC FM recording of Hidden Thoughts 1 is available as a New Waves Podcast. Hidden Thoughts 2: Return To Sender (2020) premiered on Melbourne Digital Concert Hall in July 2020, amplifies the hidden voices of Australians who wrote letters of support and encouragement to asylum seekers on Nauru Island which were sent back to Australia undelivered.

As well as freelance composition, Abbott is Senior Lecturer in Composition at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne and was the recipient of the Australia Council of the Arts Fellowship (Music).

In her work as The Artists' Mentor, she supports established Artists and Arts Leaders (across disciplines) develop vibrant long-term careers with momentum and impact through her signature program CATAPULT: 6-month Artist Mentoring Virtual Residency Program.

Katy Abbott — current to April 2023

Studied with

Stuart Greenbaum (1998 - 1999)

Brenton Broadstock


Teacher/Influence on

Lisa Cheney (2017 - 2018)

Cameron Lam (2020 - current)

May Lyon

Robert McIntyre (2018 - 2020)

Robert McIntyre (2021 - current)

Katherine Rawlings

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Glacial Thunder : for string orchestra (2024) Commissioned by Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.
Digital sheet music sample Whirl : for solo snare drum (2023) Commissioned by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra together with support by Tim and Lyn Edward for the MSO Snare Drum Award 2023.
Digital sheet music sample Fast ride in a suave machine : for Wind Symphony (2021) This work was commissioned by Orchestras Australia as part of a composer attachment in 2005/06.
Digital sheet music sample Fanfare for the Melancholy : for brass ensemble (2021) This work was made possible through the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s 50 Fanfares Project and was commissioned by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, supported by Geoff Stearn.
Digital sheet music sample Fast ride in a suave machine : for large orchestra (2020) This work was commissioned by Orchestras Australia as part of a composer attachment in 2005/06. It was supported with the assistance of the Australia Council Music Board in a new initiative titled ‘Composer_Connecting_Community’.
Digital sheet music sample Hidden Thoughts II: Return To Sender : for mezzo-soprano, narrator and string quartet (2020) This work was composed for Flinders Quartet for their 20th Birthday and was composed as part of an Australia Council of the Arts Fellowship (music)

Analysis & Media

- Review: The Song Company Trans-Tasman Waves i February 2005

- Video: Katy Abbott on composition - In conversation with...

- Video: Katy Abbott on setting text - In conversation with...

- Video: Katy Abbott on Collaboration - In Conversation With...

- Video: Katy Abbott on No Ordinary Traveller - In Conversation With...

- Video: Katy Abbott on Recording - In Conversation With...