About Me

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I was born in Northern Ireland, live in Australia, and am a composer, conductor and actor. I am Head of Composition and Production at The Australian Institute of Music and Musical Director of the Sydney Male Choir. I've been Visiting Composer at Universities and schools and my music has been performed in Australia, the USA, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, China, Italy, Ireland, Taiwan, Argentina, Mexico and Puerto Rico by many international concert artists and ensembles. My compositional interests include music for orchestra, the theatre (including dance), the voice and the church, the combination of electro-acoustic and acoustic resources especially in real time, the exploration of virtuosity and indigenous Australian music. I've conducted in festivals and concerts all over the world, as well as acted in too many professional theatre works to list here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Little Update

For nearly 15 years now my bio has begun with words along the lines of my being a Lecturer or Senior Lecturer "in Composition at the University of Wollongong." Sadly, that is no longer going to be the case soon. Our program, Sound, Composition and Music Production, is to be cut. So passes one of the most innovative and egalitarian tertiary music programs in the country. We will be offered voluntary separation and made, and perhaps the word has more reverberations than just an industrial relations term in this case, redundant.

I have had a fear for a long time that the full time composer/academic was turing into a thing of the past. It seems the perfect model for the University of the future, in this country at least, is that each department be run by an administrator, who need not be a specialist in the area, and the teaching and research be done by limited-term, casual staff.

This reflects the direction that I believe universities are heading: toward the situation where they produce drones who have varying degrees of flexibility of thought, but no real specialist skills.

Universities, rather than leading social change, are responding to it. They are not looking to produce leading thinkers who can shape the future, but people who are able to read the changing societal winds and set their sails accordingly - the middle managers of the world who don't make policy but carry it out without questioning where we are all headed, or the wisdom of the powers that be - the career administrators. They will be the people who can do the most with the least amount of money and reflective thought.

That will be our future unless we do something about the dreadful way universities are funded and the staff are treated.

It may be that I am completely mistaken here, but I find it is so tempting to say, "Be seeing you!"


  1. I was speaking to someone about this from another area in the university. They had very much the same concerns for other courses and faculties. In their words, UOW is becoming a "white collar TAFE", giving students the technical know-how to easily slip into mainstream employment, and losing the opportunity to teach its students the academics of philosophy, creative thought and expression.

  2. Hamish, I think this is right on the money. "Skills before thinking rather than teaching the skill of thinking" seems to be the ultimate objective.

    I'm assuming by posting this I've blown my chance to be a graduation speaker!!!! LoL!