...a few observations...


...like a Maelstrom (double concerto for trumpet, piano & small orchestra)

" ... 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. In that regard, ...like a Maelstrom represents the sort of initiative for which the Arcko organization exists.  Whether or not it offers pleasure is irrelevant; what it does give you without holding anything back is a horizon-expanding experience, one where your ears are challenged to an aesthetic confrontation. At a new music concert, I can’t imagine anything better."

Clive O'Connell. O'Connell the Music. 20 March 2016.


"Last and largest on the program was Like a Maelstrom. Premiered in 2015, this second performance of Colbert’s double concerto for piano and trumpet gave the ensemble a chance to launch the live recording they made of the work’s premiere. At 28 minutes long, Like a Maelstrom took its title seriously, hammering the audience with a relentless onslaught of sound for almost the entirety of that time. I would confess that at times this wasn’t easy, however this is not necessarily a bad thing: there is room in the canon for difficult music, that challenges and renders the audience uncomfortable. That Like a Maelstrom was able to evoke such a strong response speaks to the power it has as a work."

Leah Blankendaal. CutCommon. 1 April 2016.


"...a wild ride... afixation with the fast and the loud, together with a massive density...Yet the moments where the textures suddenly thin out...or where the effective tempo temporarily slows...are imbued with a dramatic power that is directly related to the mass and energy of the more maniacal passages - and the eye of a great storm does seem a suitable metaphor for this effect. The challenging solo parts are realised with fearless authority and flair by Bruno Siketa (trumpet) and Peter Dumsday (piano)."

Alistair Noble. Music Trust. 1 February 2016.


"...hero work of the night was a new work, commissioned by Arcko... Like a Maelstrom. And like a maelstrom it was...Colbert wrought an extraordinarily difficult concerto for trumpet (Bruno Siketa) and piano (Peter Dumsday) swirling amid fierce playing from 15 string players and two percussionists.  ‘Difficult, demanding and uncompromising’ was the order of the day. There were moments when I watched Dumsday sweating over the waves of giant clusters he had to manage on the keyboard and I wondered if Colbert was just getting noisy...but then, out of the almost inchoate sounds, a direction always emerged, leading the piano and trumpet in and out of the body of sound".

Nicholas M. Tolhurst. Weering Review. 3 March 2015.

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...floating in the void...(string orchestra)

"...is a very beautiful piece for 13 strings...Arcko Symphonic Ensemble has championed this work strongly and deservedly... it is a piece that is now somewhat overdue for wider recognition as among the finest string orchestra works by any Australian composer. 

Alistair Noble. Music Trust. 1 February 2016.


"...attained a great sense of suspended beauty...Colbert's floating in the void is intended as a fairly other-worldly experience. In the program notes he invites us to listen with our eyes closed. It’s hard to do that—watching each player take up his or her part and pass the music around the ensemble is too exciting."

Nicholas M. Tolhurst. Weering Review. 27 October 2013.

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"Certainly the most challenging music presented, this work invited the audience into a mysterious and abstract sound world. The only piece on the programme to deal meaningfully with space and silence, layers of isolated pizzicato morphed into thematic fragments that explored and mapped out a delicate and complex web of events."

Mark Viggiani. AMC Resonate Magazine. 12 July 2009.


Proxima (string quartet)

"...a strong, two movement work...bustles through great swathes of notes, out of which many moments of interest flare and dissipate...the obsessive busyness is briefly and magically projected into a larger space... At the end, the energy of the work metamorphoses into lyricism; as the massed-quartet texture unravels, space opens up once again - this time for a beautiful line of slow moving notes on the cello".

Alistair Noble. Music Trust. 1 February 2016.


"...Proxima for string quartet...was relentless with a solid sense of conversation between each of the four players while they yet maintained determined, individual lines...Silo Quartet worked hard, delivering a flawless, unified sound over the complex inner lines".

Nicholas M. Tolhurst. Weering Review. 3 March 2015.

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Torque (viola solo)

"...starts out virtuosically and winds itself up from there in this thrilling performance by Phoebe Green. There is no respite, as the piece races inexorably towards a splendidly abrupt ending - and yet there is more to the work than just virtuosity..."

Alistair Noble. Music Trust. 1 February 2016.


 "...intense and dedicated musicianship...Phoebe Green gave a remarkably poised performance of Colbert’s Torque for solo viola...the piece was a tour de force of quite contrapuntal measures of virtuosic playing..."

Nicholas M. Tolhurst. Weering Review. 3 March 2015.

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Agité III (piano solo)

"...a fond reminder of the extraordinary energy that characterized Melbourne’s compositional scene in the 1980s. This is music that is unforgiving, obsessive, saturated, as well as carefully controlled, precise and ambitious..."

Michael Hooper. MCA Music Forum Vol 15, No.3. May-July 2009.

See the full review here


Cogs (percussion quartet: glock / xyl / vibes / mba)

"...is rich in clashing colours but at the same time the scoring is not densely packed. It is a work that should remain in active repertoire..."

Joel Crotty. The Melbourne Age. 15/12/2000.


Slap (Bb bass clarinet, percussion)

"...intriguingly titled Slap, an engrossing piece in which the [bass] clarinet simulates the harsh and raucous squawks and warbles of some exotic, angry fowl."

Neville Cohn. The West Australian. 9-10/5/2000.


Agité V (harp solo)

"...the fifth in a series of agitated pieces, was the work that sounded as if it might have the most consistent and forceful personality while suffering most from limited rehearsal time."

Roger Covell. Sydney Morning Herald. 7/9/1999.


Jericho's Strange (Orchestra)

"...Colbert's response to urban dysfunction...pulsated with the rhythms of alienation."

Patricia Kelly. Brisbane Courier Mail. 20/11/1995.


Glimeren (piccolo, guitar, celesta, violin, viola)

"...revealed in essence a reflection on more varied sonorous possibilities, an exploration of timbres elaborating the grades of pianissimo in a continuous search for new effects."

LA NUOVA (Cagliari). 5/12/1991.


Altered States (mandolin, guitar, harpsichord, percussion)  

"...rapid, quicksilver music... Thekeyboard dominated the initial bars with a series of trills that emphasised the basis on which the piece is constructed...but the hard work fell to (the) guitarist who negotiated a massive, demanding solo..."

Clive O'Connell. The Melbourne AGE.17/7/1990.


"...Its pointillist style and rapid transference of motifs and trills between instruments brought about some scintillating effects. The extended guitar solo was vigourously played...and the work's jagged textures were underpinned by...sensitive percussion..."

Michael Christofordis. Australian Guitar Journal. Vol. 2. No. 2 1990.


"The combination of mandolin, guitar, percussion and harpsichord perfectly suits this music of rapid, obsessively ornamented figures..."

Liza Lim. OSSIA. Spring 1990.


Murderers of Calm (mandolin, guitar, violin, viola, double bass, Bb bass clarinet, percussion)  

"...fully lived up to its title. Restless, uneasy and gripping from the outset, it was notable for the development of an argument, an instrumental discussion, that repaid concentration."

Clive O'Connell. The Melbourne AGE.18/2/1987.

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