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” … an uncompromising voice, both enervating and exciting to hear in an age when contemporary composition is finding it difficult to sustain interest, let alone an audience.”


Brendan Colbert (b. 1956) performed with various progressive-rock bands in the 1970s as keyboard player and songwriter, then in the ’80s undertook private composition studies; initially with Brenton Broadstock & later with Riccardo Formosa.

After a series of early commissions (most notably from ELISION) he was selected twice for the National Orchestral Composers’ School (1991 & 1995 – tutors Gerard BrophyRichard Mills, and Carl Vine) which led to the premieres of Machinations and Jericho’s Strange by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The following years saw the resolution and assimilation of such disparate influences, the revision or withdrawal of several early works, and the emergence of an uncompromising individual voice. His output currently comprises about a hundred works, and includes commissions from local and international artists, ensembles, and orchestras, with concert and festival performances throughout Australia, Europe and the USA.

Commissions from Symphony Australia – for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra – and from US flautist Linda Wetherill (both assisted by grants from the Australia Council) saw the premieres of Eirenicon (the West Australian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Young, Perth, 2000), and Shades of Futures Past (flute concerto – soloist Linda Wetherill on flute, alto flute & piccolo in a version for soloist and CD, New York, 2004).  Shades of Futures Past was subsequently given its first full performance in Melbourne in August 2011, with Arcko Symphonic Ensemble conducted by Timothy Phillips, featuring Sarah Beggs as soloist.

A commission from Arcko’s artistic director Timothy Phillips resulted in the premiere of …like a Maelstrom (Double Concerto) with Arcko Symphonic Ensemble, featuring soloists Peter Dumsday (piano) & Bruno Siketa (trumpet), as part of a Composer Portrait Concert in Melbourne in February 2015.

The portrait concert also included the premieres of Proxima (Silo String Quartet), The Palest Light (Timothy Phillips – glockenspiel), & Torque (Phoebe Green – viola). A CD is available through Crackbell Records.

A recent commission from Michael Kieran Harvey saw the completion of Dancing to the Tremors of Time, a 25 minute single-movement work for solo piano. Somewhat challenging for both performer and audience alike, it was successfully premiered in November 2018 at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart.

Other recent premieres include Repose (for Absent Friends) (Michael Kieran Harvey – piano: Melbourne, April 2018), movements I, V, and IX from Figuration in Search of Identity (James Townsend, Madi Chwasta & Mathew Levy – percussion: Melbourne, May 2017), Contre-Temps (Peter Dumsday – piano: Melbourne, December 2016), and re-fract (Michael Kieran Harvey – piano: Sydney, September 2016).

Others to have commissioned, performed, and/or recorded works include ELISION EnsembleSpeak Percussion, Libra Ensemble, Smash Ensemble, Six Degrees Ensemble, Topology, Duo Contemporain, Ensemble Traiect, Trio Altrove 1.3, the New York Miniaturist Ensemble, Pedro CarneiroMario Teixeira, Barrie Webb, Peter Neville, Carl Rosman, Michael Kieran Harvey, Sisco Aparici, John McMurtery, Marshall McGuire, Geoffrey Morris, Michael Hooper, Carla Rees & David Black, Brigid Burke & David McNicol, Elizabeth Barcan, Stefano Cardi, Norio Sato, and Anne Norman.

Works available on CD include Dancing to the Tremors of Time (piano solo), …like a Maelstrom (Double Concerto for piano, trumpet & small orchestra), Proxima (string quartet), Torque (viola solo), Quicksand (piano solo), …floating in the void… (string orchestra), & Schräg (trombone solo) among others.

Scores are available from the Australian Music Centre, or from the composer.