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Conversations with Composers

Conversations with Composers

Gain insight into the composition process

Thurs 4 July – 5.30 pm
Long Gallery, Salamanca Arts Centre

Join accomplished Tasmanian composer Maria Grenfell as she chats with prominent Australian composers of choral music, Sandra Milliken (QLD), Paul Jarman (NSW) and Quin Thomson (TAS), in an informal and informative setting. Our featured composers will share the inspirations behind their commissions, thoughts about composing for specific ensembles and the importance of connecting with other composers.

Following the panel discussion, participants will have the opportunity for Q&A and networking with our featured composers.

The bar will be open to enjoy refreshments while spending time with these fine musicians.

Maria Grenfell

The music of composer Maria Grenfell (b. 1969) has been described as “expansive, effusive and energetic”, “magic,” “refreshingly groovy” and “brilliantly crafted.” Born in Malaysia, she completed composition studies in Christchurch, New Zealand before undertaking further studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Maria Grenfell’s work takes much of its influence from poetic, literary and visual sources and from non-Western music and literature.

Winner of the Tasmanian State Award for Ten Suns Ablaze in 2013, and Spirals in 2018 at the Australian Art Music Awards, Maria’s orchestral music has been commissioned, performed, or recorded by all the major symphony orchestras in Australia, and her chamber music is played regularly around the world. Maria composed her first film score for the documentary Quoll Farm in 2020. Recorded by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, it was a finalist for an Australian Guild of Screen Composition 2021 award for Best Music for a Documentary. In 2023 she completed her second film score, Living with Devils, also for the TSO.

Maria mentors emerging composers through various programs including the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s Australian Composers’ School, the Composing Women program (Sydney Conservatorium), and the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME) Young Composer Program. She has undertaken two international composer residencies: in 2013 she was Visiting Professor of Composition at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and in Fall 2019 she was Kerr Composer in Residence at Oberlin Conservatory, Ohio.

Maria lives in Hobart with her husband, guitarist David Malone, and they have two children. She is an Associate Professor and Co-ordinator of Composition at the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music.

Paul Jarman

Paul Jarman is a frequent guest to the Festival of Voices as a composer, conductor, clinician, presenter and MC extraordinaire! Over the years, the festival has commissioned and premiered several works written or co-written by Paul. He has touched the lives of thousands of festival goers with his boundless and infectious joy and enthusiasm for all things choral music.

Paul is most well known as a lyricist and composer of choral music, a world music multi-instrumentalist, and a facilitator of community- inspired collaborations. Paul has written over 200 commissioned works for ensembles, festivals and events, including Gondwana Voices, Sydney Children’s Choir, Birralee Voices, The Song Company, Boston City Singers, Rafiki Youth Choir, The Australian Boys' Choir, The Hunter sSingers, Department of Education, Woden Valley Youth Choir and many more. His unique blend of melody and timeless poetry celebrates the human endeavour and has captured the imagination of singers and audiences worldwide. He has been commissioned to write music about some of the most inspiring people of our time including Jessica Watson, Terry Fox, Helen Keller, Ernest Shackleton, Aung San Suu Kyi, Pemulwuy and Mary MacKillop among countless others.

"By nature, he can’t help but inspire, not only with his compositions which have a way of challenging every singer to be a better person; but also with his contagious passion, his sincere love of people from all walks of life and his limitless energy."
Julie Christiansen OAM – Founder, Voices of Birralee

Photo credit: KiPhotomedia

Sandra Milliken

Sandra Milliken is an internationally-recognised composer, conductor, clinician, teacher and adjudicator. A music graduate of the University of New England, Sandra also has a Masters degree in choral conducting from the University of Queensland.

Sandra has had a long involvement with choral music. She currently directs the Bayside Divas, a women’s choir based in Sandgate and Cannon Hill Anglican College Senior Choir. From 1995 to 2008, Sandra worked with the Queensland Youth Choir, conducting several of their ensembles and acting as their Artistic Director. In 2007 she moved to the Blackstone-Ipswich Cambrian Choir where she remained until 2016, when she went on to direct the Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir.

During 2001 Sandra travelled overseas on a Churchill Fellowship studying choral conducting and vocal/choral pedagogy. She visited 56 choirs in England, Sweden, Finland, the United States and Canada, working with and observing many international choral experts.

Sandra has achieved international recognition as an Australian composer specialising in choral music. Her works have been performed and recorded by choirs across the world. She has her own choral music series – Choral Vivace – published by Edition Peters London and has works published in Finland with SULASOL and in Sweden with Gerhmanns. Sandra is also a prolific arranger with many folk, contemporary and popular arrangements available with Sheet Music Plus in the United States and online.

Sandra has an avid interest in, and commitment to, promoting Australian choral music through her workshops and international invitations. As an adjudicator and music educator, Sandra has travelled extensively within Australia and internationally to Singapore, China, Canada, the United States, England, Belgium, Italy and Finland.

As a conductor she has produced a number of highly acclaimed choral recordings including the premiere Australian recordings of the Ramirez Misa Criolla and Navidad Nuestra; a collection of new Australian Music titled New Leaves; A Cambrian Collection – an eclectic collection of repertoire from around the world; and Haydn Sunrise featuring selected works by Michael Haydn and the Sunrise Mass by Ola Gjeilo.

Quin Thomson

Quin Thomson’s compositions have been played by by Van Diemen’s Band, Riley Lee, Xyris Quartet, Tasmanian Youth Orchestra, the Text/ure project, Sequenza, and (as part of the world premiere of their concert-length work A Tasmanian Requiem, under the direction of Gary Wain) Island Brass Quintet, among others.

Upcoming commissions include further work for the Van Diemen’s constellation of ensembles, and for Homophonic!. Their Electrogurdy project (generously funded by RANT Arts / RAF) is facilitating a broadening of Quin’s practice into site-specific, off-grid, improvisational, algorithmic and durational work.

As a performer, Quin has appeared with Amsterdam Baroque, Netherlands Bach Society, the Song Company, the TSO, Van Diemen’s Band, and many others. Musical Direction credits include UTas Conservatorium Vocal Ensemble, Loose Canon Chamber Singers, and Tasmanian Youth Orchestra ensembles.

Image credit: Marco Borggreve


General admission: $15

Booking fee

  • For bookings with a total value of $15 or less, a booking fee of $3 will be added upon check-out.
  • For bookings with a total value between $15.01 and $199.99, a booking fee of $5 will be added upon
  • For bookings with a total value of $200 or more, a booking fee of $10 will be added upon check-out.


1hr – followed by networking time

VENUE: The Long Gallery – Salamanca Arts Centre

Getting to the venue: 

  • The Long Gallery is on Level 2, 77 Salamanca Pl, Battery Point TAS 7004 
  • accessible parking spaces are available outside ‘The Den’ on Salamanca Place. More accessible parks are located on Salamanca Place in a sectioned-off parking lot opposite the restaurant strip. 


Guide Dog/Registered Assistance Animals welcome

Guide Dogs and Service Animal facilities: 

  • Water bowls will be available at this event upon request. 

Wheelchair accessibility

  • The Long Gallery is accessible on level 2 via the lift located in the Salamanca Arts Centre Courtyard. If you wish to access the lift in the evenings, please access from the courtyard entrance via Wooby’s Lane
  • Accessible bathrooms are available on every level of the Salamanca Arts Centre.  

Conditions of sale

  • Read the full conditions of sale.
  • Festival of Voices adheres to the Live Performance Australia Ticketing Code of Practice.
  • All tickets are non-refundable unless otherwise specified on the specific event page.

Contact us

For assistance please contact us on 03 6224 5975 or at [email protected].

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