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Holly Harrison : Represented Artist

Random Audio Sample: Flash point (shakuhachi with string quartet) by Holly Harrison, from the CD Women of Note


Photo of Holly Harrison

Photo: Steve Broadbent

Holly Harrison is a young Australian composer from Western Sydney. Holly's music is driven by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, embracing stylistic juxtapositions, the visceral energy of rock, and whimsical humour. She is the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's composer in residence across 2020-2022. Her music has been described as "exploding off the page", full of "riotous energy, eclectic rhythmic complexity" and "inventive, witty and invested with thrilling dynamism and momentum".

Holly's music has been performed in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA. 2022 sees premieres from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian String Quartet, James Crabb and the Goldner Quartet, Australia Ensemble, Alicia Crossley and Josh Hill, Goldmund Quartet, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Holly is a mentor for Omega Ensemble's 2022 CoLAB program for pre-professional composers and is a tutor for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's 2022 Australian Composers' School.

Holly has worked with the Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmanian, Canberra, West Australian, and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Australian Youth Orchestra and Monash Academy Orchestra. Her music has been performed by a range of Australian artists including Ensemble Offspring, Omega Ensemble, Rubiks Collective, Adelaide Wind Orchestra, Riley Lee and Enigma Quartet, Kiazma Piano Duo, and soloists Matthew Kneale and Lloyd Van't Hoff. Internationally, she has collaborated with Eighth Blackbird, Alarm Will Sound, Nu Deco Ensemble, Riot Ensemble, Orkest de Ereprijs, Het Gelders Orkest, Ensemble Garage, and Catchfire Collective. Recently, her work has expanded to include orchestral arrangements for Australian songwriters Tim Minchin and Monique Brumby.

Recent highlights include the trumpet concerto Hellbent for Owen Morris and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Johannes Fritzsch, and the announcement of Splinter as a finalist in the Work of the Year: Large Ensemble category of the 2021 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards. Commissioned by an American college consortium, the work will receive many airings in 2022, featuring on CBDNA conferences in Maryland (Eastern Division), South Carolina (Southern Division) and Washington (Western/Northwestern Division). Other highlights include the Australian Youth Orchestra touring Frumious internationally in 2019, and writing the rock-inspired Balderdash as the set string quartet work for the 2018 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. Holly's Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup featured on Eighth Blackbird's (USA) Australian tour as part of Musica Viva's 2017 International Concert Season. Eighth Blackbird's performance was later awarded Performance of the Year at the 2018 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards. Lobster Tales has since been heard across the USA, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden.

Holly is the recipient of numerous awards. She was the inaugural winner of the 2017 Sue W Chamber Music Composition Prize, awarded to an Australian female composer, and was a winner of Nu Deco Ensemble's 2018 Nu Works Initiative. She was awarded first place at the 2014 Young Composers Meeting in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, chaired by Louis Andriessen, and was the winner of the 2013 Pyeongchon Arts Hall International Chamber Music Composition Competition (South Korea). She was a resident composer at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival (USA) with Alarm Will Sound, and was one of two winners of The Riot Ensemble's (UK) 2014 Call for Scores.

Her works have been performed at festivals including the String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam (NL), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (NL), November Music (NL), LA Phil's Noon to Midnight (USA), Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (USA), Sound of Sweden (SWE), Now Hear This Festival (CAN), Asian Composers' League Festival (TWN), Coriole Music Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Adelaide Festival, Canberra International Music Festival, Four Winds Festival, and Port Fairy Spring Music Festival.

Holly teaches composition at The King's School and Caroline Chisholm College, and casually at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She was previously composer in residence at MLC School, Burwood NSW. She has presented workshops and seminars at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Monash University, University of Wollongong, New England Conservatorium, ASME NSW Composition Day, Australian Music Day, and a diverse collection of schools, including Wenona School, Shore School, Mercy Catholic College, Xavier College, and Prairiewood Highschool. Holly completed a Doctor of Creative Arts at Western Sydney University with Bruce Crossman and John Encarnacao, where she worked for several years as a sessional lecturer, co-ordinating performance and composition units.

Holly also plays drum kit and percussion in the improvised rock duo Tabua-Harrison with Joey Tabua (electric guitar). Their debut record Scout is available on Psychopyjama.


Holly Harrison — current to February 2022

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2021 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Large Ensemble Finalist Splinter

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Hellbent (trumpet with orchestra) Commissioned by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Digital sheet music sample Crunch : for piano four-hands (2021) Commissioned by Kiazma Piano Duo.
Digital sheet music sample Splinter : for wind ensemble (2020) This version commissioned by Consortium
Digital sheet music sample Shapeshifter : for solo bassoon (2020) Commissioned by Geoff Stearn.
Digital sheet music sample Swoop : for string quartet (2020) Commissioned by Australian String Quartet.
Bend/Boogie/Break : for flute, clarinet/bass clarinet in Bb, violin, cello, percussion and piano. (2018) Commissioned by and written for Ensemble Offspring with the generous support of Penny Le Couteur and Greg Dickson