Gordon Kerry lives on a hill in north-eastern Victoria where he composes and writes about music. In 2008 he was composer in residence with the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne. In 2007 he composed Elegy for the Sartory String Quartet, who performed it extensively in the Victorian north-east, the NSW Riverina and Melbourne during October and November 2007 as part of a partnership between the Australian Youth Orchestra and Murray Conservatorium. He was commissioned by AlburyCity to compose a new work, the Riverine Cantata, for the opening of its new Library Museum. His book, New Classical Music: Composing Australia, has recently been published by UNSW Press. 2009 and will see performances of his Variations for string quartet, his completion of the Mozart Requiem.


In 2006 his completion of Mozart’s Requiem was commissioned by ABC Classic FM for the Bangalow Festival, and he composed Clouds and Trumpets for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Centenary Concert in December of that year. The Requiem will be performed by Sydney Chamber Choir in 2008.


Performances of other new works in 2006 included:

Variations for String quartet (commissioned by Diane Parks) with the Utrecht String Quartet in Utrecht, Haan and various Australian cities for Musica Viva Australia

the Goodison Quartet no1: Country Music, a setting of poetry by Seamus Heaney, Gwen Harwood and Gerard Manley Hopkins for Catherine Wyn Rogers and the Doric Quartet commissioned by Nicholas and Judith Goodison for Wigmore Hall London

In restless ecstasy, a symphonic poem after Macbeth for the Queensland Orchestra.

Works for 2005 included For those in peril on the sea, for Gondwana Voices and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra; Fronting Eternity a setting of poetry of Vincent Buckley for the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra; a new orchestral work commissioned by Ars Musica Australis for the Sydney Youth Orchestra; and new work for the Riverina Summer School for Strings and Port Fairy Festival. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra will give the Australian premiere of Upon Empty Air in October.

2004 saw premieres of new works in the Netherlands, Sweden and Australia. These included Figured in the drift of stars for the Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia; No abiding city for the Malmo Horn Trio; and the orchestral cantatas Through the Fire (featured at Opera in the Alps to commemorate the disastrous bushfires which ravaged southeastern Australia in 2003) and Grow Higher Ancient Doors (commissioned by Albury City as part of its Phoenix Rising Festival). Wigmore Hall will also present his trio Im Winde in a concert given by the Storioni Trio in November. Two of his works were featured at the International Double Reed Society Conference in Melbourne, Victoria in June.

CD releases include harvesting the solstice thunders, a disc of his orchestral music with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra under David Porcelijn for ABC Classics; the original cast recording of the opera Medea from the Chamber Made Opera production; and the Southern Cross Soloists’ recording of the solo cantata, Breathtaking. CD recordings of Gordon Kerry’s music can be purchased from http://www.buywell.com/

In 2003, the Ulster Orchestra premiered Upon Empty Air (a BBC commission) at the Sonorities festival and the West Australian Symphony premiered This Insubstantial Pageant under Matthias Bamert. The latter won the 2004 APRA-Australian Music Centre Award for Orchestral Work of the Year. The Bangalow Etudes, commissioned by Virginia Farley, were premiered by pianist Kevin Power at the Bangalow Festival. Works premiered in 2002 include his Clarinet Concerto for Francesco Celata and the Sydney Symphony under Mark Elder, Kindled Skies for soprano Merlyn Quaife and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra under Howard Shelley, A Kind of Radiant Darkness (a setting of poems by Peter Steele commissioned by Greg Roger for the Southern Cross Soloists) and Cold Pastoral for the Bangalow Festival.

Other recent works include orchestral, chamber, solo and choral music written with the support of an Australia Council Fellowship awarded in 1999: the Australian Youth Orchestra under Mikko Frank performed That Gong-tormented Sea in 2001 at La Roque D’antheron festival and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw; St Francis’ Church, Melbourne inaugurated its new organ with the premiere of the Mass of Christ the King; chamber works included Im Winde for Trio Jean Paul, premiered at London’s Wigmore Hall and given again at the 2001 Schwetzingen Festival, Rasa for the Australian Piano Quartet, and And the nothing that is, given its premiere by Blue Noise in Berlin and its Australian premiere by the Seymour Group. Prominent Australian soloists have premiered his solo instrumental works in Australia and the USA. During this period Kerry also wrote Blue Latitudes for the Nash Ensemble of London (commissioned by Wigmore Hall), and Vigil for the Australian Virtuosi piano duo commissioned by Julian Burnside, QC. The latter work was awarded the 2001 Australian Music Centre Award for the best new composition of the previous year.

Kerry’s orchestral music, including several symphonic pieces and concertos for cello, viola, clarinet and trumpet have been commissioned and performed by most Australian symphony orchestras through the Symphony Australia network. He has composed numerous chamber works, many for Musica Viva Australia – such as the Sonata da camera for the Australia Ensemble and Harmonie for the Canberra Wind Soloists. His opera Medea, to a libretto by Justin Macdonnell, has been produced by Chamber Made Opera in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Washington, and by the Berliner Kammeroper in Berlin, Beeskow and Düsseldorf.

Gordon Kerry studied composition with Barry Conyngham at the University of Melbourne. He has held awards and fellowships from the Australia Council, Peggy Glanville-Hicks Trust and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts He is also an experienced arts administrator, most recently as Artistic Director of Musica Viva's Sun Microsystems Yarra Valley Festival at Domaine Chandon, and freelance music journalist. In 2003 he was awarded the Centenary Medal for his services to Australian society through music.

Click here for description and photos of the Mueller/Kerry house in northeastern Victoria.

You can email Gordon on gordonkerry@optusnet.com.au