Imperfect Memory: après la danse


2018: 6 mins. 15 secs. approx.


Memory is unreliable at the best of times. After the premiere of Dancing to the Tremors of Time - an exceptional performance by Michael Kieran Harvey (in the Nolan Gallery, MONA, Hobart, 17/11/2018) - I found myself wondering what might (or might not) be retained by those hearing such a long and challenging work for the first time.

Imperfect Memory: après la danse takes material from the major work, misremembering it with deliberate imprecision in a shorter work that might (or might not) serve as either a reminder or an introduction to Dancing to the Tremors of Time.

Imperfect Memory: après la danse is dedicated to Michael Kieran Harvey in gratitude for both his prodigious talent and his ongoing commitment to the development and support of Australian piano repertoire.


Dancing to the Tremors of Time


2017: 24 mins approx.


Dancing to the Tremors of Time was commissioned by and is dedicated to Michael Kieran Harvey, and was premiered by him in the Nolan Gallery at MONA, Hobart, on 17/11/2018.

It takes its title from a work by the late Australian surrealist James Gleeson.


“Life is divided into three parts: what was, what is, and what shall be.

Of these three periods, the present is short, the future is doubtful, and the past alone is certain.”

Seneca, from On the Shortness of Life


He’s waiting in the wings,

He speaks of senseless things,

His trick is you and me,…..”

                                            David Bowie.


Dancing to the Tremors of Time by James Gleeson

© Gleeson O’Keefe Foundation (used by permission)



trumpet in C.

2016: 1 min.45 secs. approx.


Ascension is dedicated to Bruno Siketa, in recognition of his talent & commitment.




2016: 3 min.45 secs. approx.


Contretemps is dedicated to Peter Dumsday, in recognition of his talent & commitment. It was premiered by him in Melbourne in December 2016.


The palest light


2014 rev. 2016: 5 mins. 30 secs. approx.


“The light of memory, or rather the light that memory lends to things, is the

palest light of all.... I am not quite sure whether I am dreaming or

remembering, whether I have lived my life or dreamed it.”

                                            Eugène Ionesco (1909 - 1994) Romanian playwright.


The palest light will ideally be performed in the least light possible, with stage lighting kept to the absolute minimum necessary for performance and with the audience in complete darkness.

The palest light was completed in 2014, is approximately 5 ½ minutes long, and is dedicated to Timothy Phillips, in appreciation of his vigorous and enduring support for Australian music.

The palest light was premiered by Timothy Phillips, at the Church of All Nations, Carlton on 21/02/2015, as part of the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble composer portrait concert "...Like a Maelstrom".

Timothy Phillips

Photo : Graeme Farr




2004 rev. 2016: 6 mins. 10 secs. approx.


Semplice was premiered by Geoff Morris in Melbourne in November, 2008.

Complete Score (PDF)

Geoffrey Morris




2009/2015: 27 mins. 40 secs. approx.


The handful of piano solos I'd written since (and including) the major revision of Agité III in 2000 were all - to a greater or lesser extent - related, and in 2010 I'd decided that four of them were sufficiently linked to combine quite well as a set, so the original Fracture came into being.

Over following months I became increasingly dissatisfied with this arbitrary construct, and in 2012 my thoughts turned again to the piano with a conviction to create a genuinely unified work. I chose  re-fract as the starting point and released the others to make their own way in the world. Later in 2012 Doublethink was completed, followed in 2015 by Shard : thus was Fracture in its present final form eventually (re)born.


All three works can be performed individually, or as part of the larger work.


(i) re-fract


2009: 8mins. 10 secs. approx.



re-: again, backward, intensify.

pref. [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin.]

fract: to break, to violate. [Obs]. Shak.

v.t. [L. fractus, p.p. of frangere to break.]

refract: to deflect from a straight path, to alter or distort

tr.v. [Latin refringere, to break up.]


"…to express the sensation of experiencing a disintegration of identity, a shattering of the self. This is what I mean when I speak of a poetics of refraction."

       from "The fragmentary Muse and the poetics of refraction in Sappho, Sophocles, Offenbach.

                                                                                           by Gregory Nagy 


re-fract can be performed either as a standalone work, or as the first of three movements in Fracture.

re-fract was premiered by Michael Kieran Harvey at the Creativity Unlimited Festival, Sydney, on 01/09/2016.

Score Sample (PDF)


(ii) Doublethink


2012: 12 mins. 50 secs. approx.


“…the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, …to hold simultaneously two opinions…knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, …to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again...”

                                                          from 1984 by George Orwell (1903-1950).


"...The maelstrom of my memory is a vampire and it feeds on me;..."

                                        from A Plague of Lighthouse-keepers by Peter Hammill.


Doublethink can be performed either as a standalone work, or as the second of three movements in Fracture.

Score Sample (PDF)


(iii) Shard


2015: 6 mins. 40 secs. approx.


"…trying to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many broken shards."

from Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


Shard can be performed either as a standalone work, or as the third of three movements in Fracture.

Score Sample (PDF)


Agité V


1998 rev. 2019: 5 mins. approx.


Agité V - commissioned by Marshall McGuire in 1997 - was originally completed in 1998 and premiered in that form at the 1999 Sydney Spring Festival, where it shared the Marienberg Award for Most Outstanding New Australian Composition. Later revised, it belongs to a series of solos that are all somewhat disturbed in nature and explore some of the more aggressive characteristics of the instruments involved.

Score Sample (PDF)


Marshall McGuire


Repose (for Absent Friends)


2014: 5mins. approx.


Repose (for Absent Friends) is a brief, predominantly gentle piece - looking back to a time when the future held infinite possibilities, and friends and family were immortal.

Repose was premiered by Michael Kieran Harvey in Melbourne on 13/4/2018.


Tentative Calm

assorted percussion: 6 Tom-toms, Snare drum, 5 Tam-tams, 6 Temple Blocks.

2014: 4 mins. 30 secs. approx.


Tentative Calm takes its title from a work by the late Australian surrealist painter James Gleeson (1915-2008).

Tentative Calm by James Gleeson.

© Gleeson O’Keefe Foundation (used by permission)


Three Strings : 3 related solos for 'cello, viola & violin.

2008-2013: 15 mins. 45 secs. approx.


All three works can be performed individually*, or as a set of three in any sequence as determined by the performers.




2013: 4 mins. approx.



to cause to rotate ot twist.

a force or system of forces that tend to cause rotation.

the tendency of a force applied to an object to make it rotate about an axis.


Torque was premiered by Phoebe Green, at the Church of All Nations, Carlton on 21/02/2015, as part of the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble composer portrait concert "...Like a Maelstrom".

Score Sample (PDF)

chatting with Phoebe Green after the premiere

Photo : Zachary Johnston




2011 rev. 2013: 5 mins. approx.



to move or cause to move in a spasmodic way.

to pull or draw something with a quick jerky movement.

to move (a part of the body) with a sudden motion.

to move convulsively.

Score Sample (PDF)




2008: 6 mins. 45 secs. approx.



to push or drive quickly or forcibly.

to force one's way.

a driving force or pressure.

a piercing movement made with or as if with a pointed weapon: a stab.

the thread or current of thought uniting or occuring in all the elements of a text or discourse.

the essence: the point..

Score Sample (PDF)


thread or current of thought uniting or occuring in all the elements of a text or discourse.

the essence: the point..

Score Sample (PDF)


Figuration in Search of Identity

assorted percussion: Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Drum 'A' (2 Congas, 2 Djembes, 2 Bongos), Drum 'B' (Bass Drum, 6 Tom-toms, Snare drum), 6 Gongs, 6 Temple Blocks, 6 Wood Blocks, 5 Ceramic Bowls, 5 Glass Bottles, 5 Saw Blades, 5 Steel Bowls, 2 Temple Bowls, 2 Triangles, Ceramic Wind Chimes, Glass Wind Chimes.

2011: 27 mins. approx.


Figuration in Search of Identity takes its title from a 2005 work by the late Australian pre-eminent surrealist painter James Gleeson (1915-2008).

Figuration in Search of Identity is dedicated to Brenton Broadstock and Riccardo Formosa - my composition teachers in the 1980s - both significant influences in the early years of my personal musical explorations. Completed in 2011, it comprises nine movements and is about 27 minutes long.

Figuration in Search of Identity has several acceptable performance options:

1. with one soloist performing all 9 movements

When option 1 is employed, the instruments should be distributed in 2 main positions as follows:

A. Xylophone, Drum A, 6 Gongs, 6 Temple Blocks, 5 Ceramic Bowls, 2 Temple Bowls, 2 Triangles, Glass Wind Chimes, Ceramic Wind Chimes.

B. Glockenspiel, Drum B, 6 Wood Blocks, 5 Glass Bottles, 5 Steel Bowls, 5 Saw Blades.

with both positions requiring access to the Bass Drum.

2. with 2 soloists sharing workload, with performer 1 playing those movements built around Drum A / Xylophone set up (i.e. movts I, III, IV, VII, & VIII) and performer 2 playing those built around the Drum B / Glockenspiel set up (movts II, V, VI, & IX). In this option, it is appropriate that movement I be further shared, with performer 2 playing Bass Drum only.

3. with 4 soloists sharing workload, performer 1 (I, IV, & VII), performer 2 (Bass Drum in I, V, & IX), performer 3 (II & VI), and performer 4 (III & VIII).

If either option 2 or 3 is used:

the set up should naturally be varied to suit, and may necessitate additional instrumental resources for convenience.

consideration should be given to making full use of the available performance space by setting convenient subsets in positions other than directly in front of the audience.

4. It is also permissible to extract any movement - or sequence of movements - for performance in isolation as long as the movement(s) so treated are clearly identified as such.

Score Sample (PDF)

Figuration in Search of Identity by James Gleeson.

© Gleeson O’Keefe Foundation (used by permission)


Fret (Agité IV)


1992 rev. 2010: 5 mins. 25 secs.


Fret (Agité IV) takes its more individual title from both the obvious link with the instrument, and from the relationships between other meanings of the word itself and various aspects of the piece.


agitate, disturb, enrage, irritate, torment, vex;

adorn, diversify, variegate;

an interlaced angular design.

Fret (Agité IV) was commissioned by ELISION and premiered in Melbourne in October 1993 by Stefano Cardi, who also gave its European premiere in Chiaravalle, Italy, in January 1994.

Score Sample (PDF)

Stefano Cardi




2009: 7 mins. approx. the waves...


2007: 5 mins. 30 secs. approx.


…as the waves… can be performed either as a standalone work, or as the third of seven in the cycle The Eternal Surge.


"Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end,

Each changing place with that which goes before..."

                                               from Sonnet 60, by William Shakespeare.


…as the waves… is dedicated to Peter Neville.

Score Sample (PDF)




2006: 4 mins. 20 secs.


Blitz was premiered by John McMurtery at Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Memphis, USA on 20/6/2013 as part of the 7th Belvedere Chamber Music Festival.

Score Sample (PDF)  


(L to R) In action during the premiere of Blitz at Grace-St Luke's Church, Memphis -- John McMurtery

Photos: Lucy Owens -- Richard Blinkoff



Bb clarinet.

2006: 1 min.


Clair-Obscur was premiered on 31/5/2006 by Joshua Rubin (of the New York Miniaturist Ensemble) at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, New York.

Joshua Rubin




2005: 7 mins. 15 secs. approx.


"...Quicksand years that whirl me I know not whither..."

                                  from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1819-1892).


"...I'm torn between the light and dark

Where others see their targets

Divine symmetry... "


"...I’m sinking in the quicksand of my thought,

and I ain’t got the power anymore..."

                                   from Quicksand by David Bowie.


Quicksand was premiered by Michael Kieran Harvey at the Iwaki Auditorium, Melbourne, on 21/8/2009.

Score Sample (PDF)




2005: 6 mins. 15 secs.

Score Sample (PDF)



bass flute.

2005: 3 mins. 10 secs. approx.


Solitary was premiered by Linda Wetherill in New York in August, 2007.

Complete Score (PDF)

Linda Wetherill


Pro Tempore

5 octave marimba.

2002 rev. 2004: 7 mins. 15 secs.


Pro Tempore can be performed either as a standalone work, or as the fifth of seven in the cycle The Eternal Surge.


"...Since there is nothing but this moment, 'for the time being' is all the time there is."

                                                                             Dogen Zenji (1200-1253).


Pro Tempore (Latin: for the time being) had something of a complicated birth. It was originally written for 4 octave marimba, and comprised 4 sections with a flexible format that allowed its duration to range from 8 to 16 minutes. It was originally subtitled Provisional Solutions I-IV; the uncertainty implied by a 'provisional pro tempore' suggesting that even then the piece was a strong candidate for later revision.

This in fact proved to be the case. When Pedro Carneiro suggested creating a version for 5 octave marimba, the opportunity was taken to revise rather than arrange, the new final version being for 5 octave marimba, inflexible in format, and approximately 7’ 15" long.


Pro Tempore is dedicated to Pedro Carneiro.

Score Sample (PDF)



1.8' Shakuhachi.

2004: 5 mins. 35 secs.


Catharsis was premiered by Anne Norman in Melbourne on 10/10/2004.

Anne Norman




2003: 6 mins. 45 secs.


Schräg: [German] oblique.

 "All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up."

                                           James Baldwin (1924 - 1987) US novelist, essayist.


Schräg was premiered by Barrie Webb at Melba Hall, Melbourne, on the 18th of April, 2004, with its European premiere following in Bucharest on the 27th of May.

Score Sample (PDF)

Barrie Webb

Photo : Howard Dillon



Bb bass clarinet.

2002: 5 mins.


"...There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn..."

                                               from The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus.


Scorn was premiered in the Great Hall at King’s College London on 8/3/2004 by Carl Rosman, who also gave the first performance in Germany in Stuttgart on April 6th the same year.

Score Sample (PDF)


Carl Rosman


Beyond Acheron


2001: 14 mins.


(i) Hope nevermore...

(ii) rebehold the stars.


In Greek mythology, Acheron is one of the 5 rivers that separate the realm of Hades from the world of the living. It is the river of woe, across which Charon ferries the souls of the dead.

Beyond Acheron is in 2 movements, each taking its individual title from the Longfellow translation of Dante’s Inferno:


Canto III: lines 85 - 87

"Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens;

I come to lead you to the other shore,

To the eternal shades..."


Canto XXXIV: lines 136 - 139

"We mounted up, he first and I the second,

Till I beheld through a round aperture

Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear;

Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars."

Score Sample (PDF)




2001: 5 mins.


Resignation was written during a time when I was questioning the wisdom of continuing with composition - after a series of, in some cases particularly insulting, rejections. After a period of outrage and disappointment at these decisions, I determined nonetheless to persevere with my work, content in the knowledge that I am at the very least pursuing my chosen course honestly, openly, and competently.  

Resignation was premiered by Elizabeth Barcan in Melbourne on 28/5/2006.

Elizabeth Barcan


Agité III


1992 rev. 2000: 12 mins.


Agité III was originally completed in the early 1990’s, and premiered in that form by Haydn Reeder in 1993. It was comprehensively reworked in September 2000; this new version being premiered by Michael Kieran Harvey during the Federation Music Week Festival in Melbourne in September 2001.

Score Sample (PDF)

Michael Kieran Harvey


Akkord III


1998: 2 mins.


Akkord III was premiered by Peter Neville on 23/9/1999 at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, with its US premiere given by Michael Caterisano in New York in October 2005.


Akkord I


1997: 4 mins.


Akkord I was premiered by Danae Killian at the Richmond Town Hall, Melbourne in 1998 as part of the Melbourne Composers’ League ‘Mosaics’ series of concerts. Its US premiere featured Cory Smythe in New York in 2007.


Akkord II


1997: 4 mins. 30 secs.


Akkord II was premiered by Norio Sato at the Melbourne International Festival in October 1998, with its European premiere featuring Gisbert Watty in Prato (Italy) in 2007.


Norio Sato

Akkord II is published in "Australian Guitar Miniatures" from Red House Editions. ISBN 0 9587342-3-2


Agité II (transcription)


1995: 5 mins. 30 secs.


Agité II was originally commissioned as a mandolin solo by Stephen Morey. Upon Stephen’s retirement from performing in 1995, it was transcribed for vibraphone & premiered in that form by Peter Neville in Brisbane in 1999. Speak Percussion's 2005 tour saw Peter give its European premiere in Barcelona, with follow up performances in Livorno, Trieste, Espinho, Porto, Oslo, and Copenhagen. 

Agité II also features regularly in solo recitals given throughout Spain by Sisco Aparici.

Score Sample (PDF)


(L to R) Peter Neville -- Sisco Aparici.


Agité I


1989 rev. 1991: 3 mins.


Agité I was premiered by Suzanne Hornsby in Melbourne in 1993. Its first US performance was by Linda Wetherill in New York in 1998, and its European premiere was given in Braila, (Romania) by Alexandru Hanganu in 2000. It has been performed and broadcast many times by Melanie Chilianis of the Melbourne-based ensemble re-sound, and is available on their self-titled CD.


Agité II


1989: 5 mins. 30 secs.


Agité II is dedicated to Stephen Morey, who commissioned the work and premiered it in Melbourne on 9/8/1990. Its first European performance was given by Michael Hooper in York in May 2009.


(L to R) Stephen Morey -- Michael Hooper  

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