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Peter McNamara : Represented Artist

Composition provides an emotional outlet for me, and a way to express the timbral sounds conceived by my imagination.

Random Audio Sample: Cadenza II : for solo cello by Peter McNamara, from the CD Sideband.

Photo of Peter McNamara

Photo: Kylie Lyons


Peter McNamara is an award-winning Sydney-based experimental composer. Born and educated in Sydney's Western Suburbs, his work is particularly influenced by landscapes and the physics of the natural world and universe, and extends across a wide variety of musical genres including orchestral, chamber, electronic, installation and film composition. Between 1999 and 2011 he studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with composers such as Michael Smetanin, Bozidar Kos and Trevor Pearce, graduating with a PhD. He is currently an academic lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the Excelsia College in Sydney and a co-artistic director of the Sideband Collective.

McNamara's works have appeared at numerous international events including the 2008, 2010 and 2013 ISCM World New Music Days and the 2008, 2009 and 2011 Gaudeamus Music Weeks in the Netherlands, performed by leading international orchestras, ensembles and soloists including Ensemble Modern, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Insomnio, Orchestra Victoria, Elision, Ensemble Nomad, Orkest de Ereprijs, Ensemble Offspring, the Tokyo Sinfonietta, Ensemble Phace, the Stroma Ensemble and Sydney Symphony soloist Shefali Pryor.

McNamara has a growing number of works published by Wirripang Pty Ltd and Alexander Street Press. He also has a growing number of commissions from various artistic bodies and ensembles nationally and internationally. This includes the development and recording of his major song cycle work De Rerum Natura, funded by the Classical Association of NSW, The Myer Foundation, APRA AMCOS and Mr Charles Fairchild. Also, the works Perpetual Inertia for the Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy, Der Ost-Westspiegel for international accordion virtuoso James Crabb and The German Hills for Ensemble Offspring. In 2006 and 2012, he was the composer-in-residence at the Campbelltown Arts Centre.

McNamara's work has also been commercially recorded by Australian virtuoso performers Claire Edwardes (The Styx, Kammerklang 2009) and Alicia Crossley (Duo-Generare, Duo-Blockstix 2017). He also co-initiated with fellow composers Tristan Coelho and Brad Gill the commercial CD recording projects Sideband in 2014, Sideband: The In-between in 2018, and Sideband: From the Depths in 2020, containing recordings of his chamber and electronic works Voltage, Cadenza II, Amplitude, White Noise, Voice of the Depths and At the Melting of the Snow.

McNamara's numerous awards include the 2015 APRA Professional Development Award, the Gallipoli Songs Prize in 2014 (The General's Garden), second place at the 2011 Orkest de Ereprijs Young Composers Meeting (Cross Modifications), the 2008 2MBS-FM composition award for Orchestra (Modes of Deception), the 2007 Betty Amsden Award for Orchestra (Auftauchen der Nacht) and second place in the 2007 Asian Composers League Young Composers Awards (Landscape of Diffracted Colours). McNamara also received a High Credit from the Lepo Sumera International Composition Contest in 2003 for his orchestral work Shadows of Fallacy.

Peter McNamara — current to January 2023

Studied with

Trevor Pearce (1999 - 2006)

Michael Smetanin (1999 - 2011)


Mentored by

Brett Dean (2003)

Georges Lentz (2003)

Richard Mills (2004 - 2005)


Collaborated with

Tristan Coelho (2014 - current)

Brad Gill (2014 - current)


Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2015 APRA Professional Development Award (Art Music) Winner

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
De Rerum Natura : The Nature of Things (2020) Developed through the support of the Classical Association of NSW, the Myer Foundation, APRA AMCOS and Mr Charles Davidson
Transfigured Continent : for amplified bowed cymbal, indeterminate ensemble and film (2016) Commissioned by Sideband.
Digital sheet music sample Amplitude : for solo percussion & pre-recorded electronics (2013) Commissioned by Brad Gill.
Six dimensions of seven : for solo harp (2012) Commissioned by Ursula Caporali for the "Six Artists Seeking a Composer" Project.
Cadenza II : for solo cello (2012) Commissioned by John Addison and Ursula Caporali for the "Six Artists Seeking a Composer" Project
Der Ost-Westspiegel : for solo accordion (2012) Commissioned on behalf of Campbelltown City Council

Analysis & Media

Book: The role of timbre and microtones in the music of Peter McNamara / Peter McNamara.