Alex Chilvers is an Australian music composer, researcher, and educator based in Sydney. He completed his PhD under the supervision of Michael Smetanin at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he currently teaches. Chilvers' music and his research explore the relationship between centuries-old musical traditions and contemporary approaches to composition — particularly in Poland, where he has studied with the composer Aleksander Lasoń.
Prior to studying music composition, Chilvers gained an undergraduate degree in information technology and worked within the Music, Sound and Performance Lab. His inclination towards algorithmic problem-solving and his interest in human perception continue to feed his creativity. His works have been performed by a number of emerging and established ensembles and he has collaborated with a range of performers. These include Adelaide's Soundstream Collective, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Polish New Music Orchestra (Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej), keyboardist Stephanie McCallum, violinist Ole Böhn, percussionist David Lockeridge, and harpsichordist Anthony Abouhamad.
Alex Chilvers is an associate of the Australian Music Centre.
- Shots Heard Over The Strait (2013; symphony orchestra)
Shots Heard Over The Strait was composed in April and May 2013 for submission to the 2013 Symphony Australia TSO Composers’ School. It is scored for double wind orchestra and a performance should last approximately six minutes. Although not strictly programmatic, the work was partly inspired by the April 1996 massacre in Port Arthur, Tasmania. I was particularly concerned with
Trio I (2014; bass clarinet, violin, piano)
Trio I was composed between April and June 2014 for submission to the Soundstream Emerging Composers’ Forum. Inspired by the butterfly effect, this piece explores some of the many ways in which slight changes of material, occurring at any given moment, can have a cumulative and recursive effect on all that follows. I have incorporated a number of compositional
Chamber Music for Tereska (2014; chamber orchestra)
The title of this piece refers to a photograph taken by David Seymour in 1948, “Tereska draws her home.” This photograph depicts a young Polish girl who, born and raised in a concentration camp, was then residing at a home for war-handicapped children. The photograph captures not only Tereska, but also the chaotic image she had just produced after being asked to draw a picture of her house and family.
o Śląsku (2015; chamber orchestra)
o Śląsku was composed in March/April 2015, while I was residing at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland. There to undertake an artistic apprenticeship with the Polish composer Aleksander Lasoń (b. 1951), I created this piece as a response to my exploration of Silesia’s music, culture and natural environment. Silesia (Śląsk in Polish) is a region with a diverse and complicated history.
Carvings (2015; alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, percussion)
Carvings was commissioned by the Sydney-based saxophone-percussion duo Translucent Duo for inclusion on their 2016 debut album, In Sync. When I began working on the piece in 2015, I was concurrently investigating the issue of national identity. Having spent time researching the nationalist currents prevalent in nineteenth-century Poland, I briefly shifted focus to my native homeland. Questions of national culture, identity and history
- 17 September 2019: Studium O (for solo harpsichord), Associate Professor Stephanie McCallum, Sideband: Renaissance
- 26 August 2018: coûte que coûte? (for SSAATB choir, piano and percussion), Luminescence Chamber Singers and Tess Said So, High Court of Australia (Canberra)
- 18 April 2017: Drowning Trio (for flute, clarinet and violin), Phoenix Ensemble, Lviv Philharmonic (Ukraine)
- 21 August 2016: Bells & Crosses (for tuba and percussion), Sideband, SCM Light-wells
- 17 August 2016: Carvings (for two saxophones and percussion), Translucent Duo (with Michael Duke), SCM
- 7 April 2016: o Śląsku (for chamber orchestra), Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej, AM Katowice (Poland)
- July 2017: "The Function of Folklore in the Music of Karol Szymanowski: Nationalism, Exoticism or Modernism?" International Conference on Music and Sounds (Warsaw, Poland)
- May 2016: "No Politics, Please: Aestheticising Folklore in Modern Polish Music", SCM MCS Graduate Symposium
- October 2015: "'Memory Turns Muse': Composing for the Future with Respect for the Past", MSA Annual Conference
- April 2015: "The Pleasing Ambiguity of Musical Quotations and the Role of 'Nostalgia'", International Students' Scientific Conference "The Sound Ambiguity" (Wrocław, Poland)
- March 2015: "Musical Visions of Utopia: The Role of Polish Folklore in Contemporary Music Composition", His Master's Voice Annual Symposium (Kraków, Poland)
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