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Rosemary Austen (1958-2015) : Associate Artist

Random Audio Sample: Celebration : sextet by Rosemary Austen, from the CD Celebration

Photo of Rosemary Austen

Rosemary Austen (1958-2015) was born in Katoomba, New South Wales. After practising as an optometrist in Europe, Africa and Australia for 15 years, Austen enrolled at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney, where she studied classical guitar. In 1998 she moved to Tasmania and continued guitar studies at the Conservatorium of Music, before commencing studies in composition under Raffaele Marcellino, Douglas Knehans and Maria Grenfell, while receiving private lessons from Larry Sitsky and Steven Hartke. She also participated in a variety of workshops with Constantine Koukias, Graeme Leak and Ian Munro. In 2003 she graduated with First Class Honours.

Influence in Rosemary Austen's work are derived from a number of sources. Her particular fascination for things foreign meant that scales and rhythms from other cultures are a feature of her compositional style. Her 10 years in Zimbabwe served as a key influence.

Her interest in the written work lent itself to a particular interest in vocal writing. Austen utilised the words of women poets from Tasmania, the ACT, Greece, and northern America as the inspiration for her work. She participated in collaborations with spoken word artist Sue Moss, resulting in an improvisational performance at the Blank and Free Poetry and Prose event, and a multimedia work, The Soaps, which was performed during the Dorothy Awards in 2003.

Rosemary Austen's music has been performed by the Seymour Group at concerts throughout Tasmania and Sydney. In 2003 The Mulberry Tree was performed by the Melbourne Women's Choir and Lament for Zimbabwe was performed by the by the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra at Hobart 's Federation Concert Hall.

She was the recipient of a number of grants, including a travel grant from the University of Tasmania in 2001 for the premiere of The Apples Suite in Boise, Idaho, USA . In 2003 Arts Tasmania provided a travel grant for Austen to attend the premiere of The Mulberry Tree in Melbourne. And in 2004 she was artist in residence at Lake St Clair, Tasmania, supported by a grant from Arts Tasmania.

Austen was also commissioned to write a vocal work for Queensland based soprano Julee-anne van der Boor, and a bassoon concerto for Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra principal bassoonist Lisa Storchheim.

During her years in Sydney, Rosemary Austen was an active member of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir and the Sydney Classical Guitar Society. Most recently, Austen lived in Fremantle Western Australia, where she divided her time between her compositional activities and part-time work as an optometrist.

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample The mulberry tree : SA choir with piano (2002) Commissioned by Faye Dumont for performance by Melbourne Women's Choir.
Celebration : sextet (2002) Written for the Seymour Group residency at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, August 2002