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John Arthur Grant : Associate Artist

"I was drawn to the imponderable as a child. Sounds of excitement, soothing, deep emotion, and just pure fun. A parallel universe connecting me with the wider world, and at the same time taking me deep inside myself."

Photo of John Arthur Grant

Photo: Gina Grant


John Arthur Grant's music brings together the two main strands of his early influences - classical and rock music. Interweaving diverse elements is both a challenge and a means to create his own distinctive styles. Two broad directions define his current practice: Concert works for solo instruments, small ensembles, or choir. And pieces for solo piano, or piano with sparse accompaniment.

An album of piano-based music, Give Me A Mask, was released in 2020, under the name Antoni Grzyb, John's neo-classical pseudonym. Tracks from this album were performed by him regularly at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building during the 2021 lockdowns, at a concert at St Paul's Cathedral in March 2022, and at private functions.

In 2022, John completed another 40-minute soundtrack for Dream Puppets, a touring company headed by Richard Hart in Melbourne. There is no dialogue in the show, so the only sounds heard are those John created in his studio. Starting with a backyard nature soundscape, it utilizes a huge range of music styles, with influences of world music, dance music, classic movie soundtracks and game music. This is the fifth 40-minute soundtrack for Dream Puppets he has created, spanning over 20 years. One of them won an award for Best Music at the 2nd Nanchong International Puppet Art Week, China, May 2017.

Some recent performances of his "classical" music:

Notes From The Borigove was composed for the Astra Choir (dir. John McCaughey) and first performed by them in December 2016. In March 2017, the Australian Voices (dir. Gordon Hamilton) performed the central movement in Brisbane, and also did a studio recording. In December 2019, the Astra Choir revisited the work again, during what turned out to be their final performance before the 2020-21 pandemic.

3 Soft Segments for solo piano, was premiered by Danae Killian at the Elbow Room concert for Melbourne Composers League in 2019.

7 Rejoinders was written for a clarinet trio, but has been rearranged for various ensembles, including saxophone trio. The first performance was at the Melbourne Composers' League East Meets West concert in 2017.

Henso-Kyoko #1, variations for solo flutes, was performed by Peter Sheridan at the Subterranean Sonorities concert for Melbourne Composers League in 2016.

Alighting #1, for 6 flutes of varying sizes, was performed twice by the Monash Flute Ensemble (dir. Peter Sheridan) in 2018.

6 Abbreviations for solo bassoon was performed by Matthew Angus at three Inventi Ensemble concerts in July 2016.

Music can lead to all kinds of unexpected adventures. In John's case,

• He dreamed of playing in progressive rock bands, and performed on the TV show Countdown.

• He travelled from Melbourne to Broome, about as far as you can go and still be in Australia, just to perform once in an aircraft hangar.

• He enjoyed working in recording studios, but didn't intend to become a session musician, or to gain enough engineering skills to make a pro home studio a reality.

• He lusted after the sonic possibilities of synthesizers, along with pianos and organs, and owned many fine examples.

• He performed on the famous Melbourne Town Hall organ.

• He programmed a synthesiser to sound like a pipe organ at Melbourne Town Hall, when the real thing was out of commission.

• He played a Fringe Festival show with totally improvised ensemble Now! Here! This! where the only performance direction was, "We are frogs in a pond".

• He became Musical Director for legendary Australian pop vocalists Colleen Hewett, Johnny Young, Brian Cadd, Mike Brady, Wendy Stapleton, and other corporate rock acts.

• He found that he enjoyed solving the little musical puzzles involved in composing advertising music; he became a "jingle" writer.

• He conducted synthesizer and music technology training sessions and demonstrations all around Australia and NZ, and throughout Asia, including twice in Tehran.

• He found himself at the home of Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi, and in meetings with Korg founder Tsutomu Katoh. He has many friends in the international Korg Product Planning community.

• He travelled from his Melbourne base to Christchurch, Cairns, Abu Dhabi and many more places, just to do a single short performance.

• He discovered that arranging music on computer software meant that his illegible hand-writing was taken out of the equation, leading to years of arranging work for Channel 9's Carols By Candlelight and other live-to-air broadcasts, and for Hugh Jackman, Jerry Lewis, and hundreds more clients.

• He improvised with Andrew Garton's Terminal Quartet at the Make It Up Club, partly with fingers in ears when the performer next to him kept turning up the volume.

• Fascinated with sonic art, sound design, new and experimental music, he composed and designed an installation for sound art festival Sonic Residues 02 at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.

• He met a puppeteer and ended up composing five soundtracks for Dream Puppets, each 40 minutes long, with no dialogue. This chance meeting lead to his music being heard all around Australia, and at many overseas festivals.

• He has written music for instruments that he previously knew little about, such as cello, bassoon, contra-bass flute, and basset horn.

John is a long-time volunteer for the music industry charity Support Act.

John Arthur Grant — current to September 2022

Influenced by

Peter Sculthorpe (1968 - current)

David Hirschfelder (1978 - current)

Peter Jones (1980 - current)

Ross Edwards (1986 - current)

Tony Gould (1988 - current)

George Dreyfus (1990 - current)

Adam Simmons (1997 - current)

Michael Kieran Harvey (1998 - current)

Graeme Koehne (2000 - current)

Andrián Pertout (2010 - current)


Studied with

Ian Bonighton (1972 - 1978)

Keith Humble (1972 - 1974)

David Williams


Collaborated with

George Dreyfus (1990 - 1992)

Peter Sullivan (1992 - current)

Andrew Garton (2005 - 2010)

Ollie Olsen (2008)

John McCaughey (2015 - current)

Peter Sheridan


Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample 7 Rejoinders : for trio of clarinets (2017) Composed for Melbourne Composers League concert "East Meets West - New Chamber Music from Australia and Tatarstan
Digital sheet music sample 7 Rejoinders : for wind trio (2017) Composed for Melbourne Composer's League concert "East Meets West - New Chamber Music from Australia and Tatarstan".
7 Rejoinders : for trio of clarinets with basset horn (2017) Composed for Melbourne Composers League concert "East Meets West - New Chamber Music from Australia and Tatarstan".
Digital sheet music sample Henso-Kyoko #1 : variations for solo flute (2016) Composed for the Melbourne Composers League Subterranean Sonorities Concert