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The Composers’ Room

The Composers’ Room

8 July 2022  |  12:30 PM  |  The Ian Potter Recital Hall - The Hedberg  |  $30

The Festival of Voices first ever ‘Q&A’ Composers’ Forum


Compere: Christopher Waterhouse

Panel: David Drury, Michael Leighton Jones, John Rotar, Brooke Shelley, Joe Twist 

One of the primary goals of The Festival of Voices is to promote quality Australian choral music. In 2022 we have assembled a panel of Australian choral composers who break barriers in both secular and sacred contexts, and who are defining the landscape of the Australian choral scene. Guided by compere Christopher Waterhouse, the audience will get an insight into the trials and tribulations of what it is like to be a choral composer in the 21st century. 

Featuring interlude performances from Queen’s Phoenix and Concordis Chamber Choir as they present some of the guest composers’ works.

Featured Composers

David Drury

Born in 1961, David Drury is well known to Australian audiences as an organist, choral conductor and composer of choral music. A graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, he is only Australian to win the ‘Tournemire prize’ for improvisation at the St Alban’s International Organ Competition (1987).

He has toured England, France, Germany, Canada, USA and New Zealand as a recitalist, and appeared as soloist with the Sydney, Adelaide and West Australian symphony orchestras, the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.  

He plays regularly with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, the Australian Baroque Brass and early music group Camerata Antica. David is Director of Music at St Paul’s College at the University of Sydney. His choral music is published by Crescendo Music Publications. David is also a producer of electronic dance music. 

Michael Leighton Jones

Michael Leighton Jones sang in the Choirs of King’s College, Cambridge and Westminster Abbey and then two vocal ensembles – The Scholars (London) and Jones & Co (Brisbane) – before being appointed Director of Music at Trinity College, University of Melbourne. He has also appeared as a soloist in festivals – opera, oratorio and recital – as well as with the major orchestras throughout Australia. He now devotes his time to adjudicating, arranging, composing and teaching.  


“The highly creative, imaginative arrangements by Michael Leighton Jones add a further dimension which takes the hymn into the realm of art music.” – ABC Classic

“…the splendid English sacred choral tradition is alive and well and the excellence of the singing is a credit to Leighton Jones”. – Loud Mouth 

John Rotar

John Rotar is Conductor and Artistic Director of The Australian Voices. Described by Limelight as a ‘talented and innovative composer’, John is a prolific composer and has had over 115 works performed by many leading arts organisations across Australia, Europe and North America. Aside from his conducting and composing work John is also an active performer as a trombonist, bass, organist and piano accompanist and holds the organist chair at the historic All Saints Church in the CBD of Brisbane.   

Brooke Shelley

Brooke has had formal classical training in Piano, Harpsichord, and Composition. She completed a Bachelor of Music (Hons) in Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and a Master of Music in Advanced Musical Studies majoring in Historical Musicology at Royal Holloway, University of London. 

Brooke’s experience in choral singing has translated into the bulk of her composition portfolio being choral music for the liturgy, with performances throughout Australia and in the UK and USA. She has been commissioned by The Choir of Trinity College, University of Melbourne; The Choir of Christ Church St Laurence; and The Choir of St James’, Sydney, as well as private commissions for choirs such as the Choirs of St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane. Brooke was also commissioned by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs as part of their 100 Minutes of New Australian Music project, celebrating their centenary in 2020. Although classically trained, Brooke has always loved popular music, particularly Scandinavian metal music.   

She formed the band, Resonaxis, as way of combining metal and renaissance music with the organ improvisations of renowned Australian organist, David Drury. Resonaxis was perhaps the only band in the world with a classical organist. Brooke’s music has led her to be interviewed on a number of ABC Radio National programmes (Andrew Olle, The Rhythm Divine, In the Spirit of Things), and reviews of her music have appeared in European progressive music magazines and ezines. 

Brooke has sung with a number of vocal ensembles in Australia and the UK, and she has provided vocals for Nick Littlemore on projects such as Elton John vs Pnau, and White Shadows. Brooke also collaborated with Nick on his Two Leaves Project (Evening of the Sky) and is currently working on an unnamed project. 

Joe Twist

Composer/arranger Joe Twist receives numerous commissions and performances of his music from choirs in Australia and around the world, including the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, Chanticleer, Voces8 and many others.  

Twist also works extensively in music for film and television including the successful animated series Bluey, as well as arrangements and orchestrations for many major motion pictures produced in Hollywood. He has created music for such renowned international artists and ensembles as Moby, The Wiggles, The Idea of North and Kate Miller-Heidke, to name just a few.  

Twist’s latest major Adelaide Festival vocal work “Watershed: the Death of Dr Duncan” received thunderous acclaim.

Featured Choirs

Concordis Chamber Choir

Concordis Chamber Choir has established itself as one of the finest choral ensembles in Australia, with an outstanding performance record at choral festivals and competitions. From the first meeting of school leavers, Concordis has grown into a group of more than 40 young men and women auditioned from all corners of Melbourne and beyond.   

Determined to embrace a variety of musical styles, the choir has an eclectic and ever expanding repertoire. With its deliberate emphasis on Australian choral music, Concordis is proud to regularly commission and premiere new works by Australian composers and to further its reputation in this field.  

Throughout its early journey Concordis enjoyed the guidance of its Founding Director Andrew Hunter and former Assistant Artistic Director/composer-in-residence Nicholas Buc premiering many of Nick’s new works. Concordis is now lucky to be led by Musical Director Philippa Jones. 

Queen’s Phoenix

While singers and choirs were silenced during COVID-19 lockdowns, Sydney composer and singer, Brooke Shelley, devised a project to record music of Manchicourt (c.1510–1564), a prolific and highly regarded member of the so-called ‘lost generation’ of Franco-Flemish composers.    

Over the course of four days during the height of a hot and humid Sydney summer, Queen’s Phoenix gathered in a small College chapel to record a selection of Manchicourt’s music and two new Australian works inspired by Manchicourt’s motets.    

Michael Noone, Musicologist and choral director, described the recording, A Voice from Heaven, as ‘unique’ with… ‘extraordinary music draws the listener into a sensuous world where past and present dissolve and the sacred and the secular become one.’   

The modern performing editions of Manchicourt’s music and other composers presented at Queen’s Phoenix’s Festival of Voices concerts are prepared by Andrew Fysh under the title RESOLUT editions. For some of these works, it will be the first time they are heard since the mid-1600s and therefore, the first time they are heard in Australia.

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1 hour 30 mins

Accessibility Information

Getting to the venue 

  • The Ian Potter Recital Hall is within the Theatre Royal Building at 19-27 Campbell St, Hobart TAS 7000 
  • Drop off car spaces are available at the entrance to the Theatre Royal on Collins Street. 
  • 2 accessible parking spaces are available outside the Theatre Royal on Collins Street. 
  • Please follow this link to experience a virtual tour of the venue. 


Assistive Listening:  

  • The Ian Potter Recital Hall is equipped with an Assisted Hearing Service that offers amplified sound through a connection with a person’s personal Hearing Aids. Please contact the Theatre Royal Box Office – 03 6146 3300 to discuss any queries regarding this service. 


Guide Dogs and service animals are welcome in all FOV event venues. 


Wheelchair Accessibility: 

  • For wheelchair bookings please contact the festival with specifications and dimensions of the wheelchair and any additional user requirements. 
  • Lift access is available from the main foyer entrance reaching all building levels including the box office, Main Stage Stalls, Dress Circle and Gallery. 
  • Accessible bathrooms are available on every level of the Theatre Royal building 

COVID – 19 Information

Feeling unwell?
Please do not attend this event if you are feeling unwell. It is in the interest of all to stay at home if you have any flu or COVID-19 symptoms. Please review our COVID-19 Ticketing Terms and Conditions here if you are unable to attend for this reason. 

Face masks:
As a part of UTAS’s COVID-19 Safety Plan, masks are mandatory in this space. Free medical face masks will be available at this event venue entrance upon request. 

Physical Distancing:
This event is in a theatre-style seated venue. Please be mindful of physically distancing from others when moving through the foyer at the beginning and end of this event. 

Hand hygiene:
Sanitiser will be provided at this venue. Please use thoughtfully.