Fund gets Withers’ songs on the radio

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Guitarist Matt Withers

CANBERRA classical guitarist Matt Withers is one of the lucky recipients of a series of newly-announced commissions resulting from the new Australian Music Fund.

Withers, described as “guitarist extraordinaire”, will join Sydney University “Composing Women” graduate Natalie Nicolas to compose a set of three short solo works for classical guitar, expressing feelings of catharsis and of emotionally moving forward. The works will be aired on ABC Classic.

It’s been a good week for Australian music, with the release yesterday (July 13), on the Naxos label, of Guitar Trek’s new all-Aussie album “Bluetongue”, which is also the ABC Classic feature album of the week.

Withers is a long-time members of the ensemble led my Canberra’s Tim Kain and also featuring Callum Henshaw and Minh Le Hoang.

The Australian Music Fund venture will see ABC Classic and ABC Jazz broadcasting 25 new Australian works to audiences over the coming year.

The 25 new works were chosen from 486 applications and of them 55.5 percent of the composers and 62.5 percent of the performers are female. Almost 30 per cent of the successful composers identify as indigenous Australians.

Along with music by established names like Elena Kats-Chernin and William Barton, there will be work by newer composers and performers on a range of themes including responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent Australian bushfires, and indigenous composers bringing their perspectives to 250 years of European cultural heritage.

New works premiering on ABC Jazz include music by composer Natalie Dietz, Australian-Armenian composer Zela Margossian and Jeremy Rose of The Vampires.

Jazz bassist Jonathan Zwartz will also join fellow composers Mike Nock, Hamish Stuart and Julien Wilson to write and record a new series for broadcast.

Commissions for ABC Classic include SA composer Anne Cawrse’s new work, “Songs Without Words” for piano trio, to be performed and recorded by the Benaud Piano Trio, seven short pieces based on poems by Stephen Crane for oboe, soprano saxophone and piano from composer Luke Severn and “The Bell Birds Suite for String Quartet”, where composer Emma Jayakumar takes Henry Kendall’s 1869 poem, “Bell Birds” as the inspiration for a 20-minute string quartet in five movements.

The successful applicants receive a fee of up to $6000 to cover writing and recording, a studio session at the ABC, airplay for the completed recording on ABC Classic or ABC Jazz and a commercial digital release of the work via ABC Music.

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Helen Musa
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