May’s playlist features some of the latest Spotify releases over the past few months, including the first of the ABC’s Fresh Start Commissions, as well as other recent releases that complement them. Also featured are recent award winners and some recipients of the 2021 Art Music Fund.

Australian Art Music
Image credits, top right to bottom left: Anne Cawrse. William Barton © Keith Saunders. Australian Art Music artwork © Marigold Bartlett. Daniel Rojas © Mike Chesworth. Brenda Gifford © Marissa McDowell.

While streaming is a great way to discover new music – purchasing albums or merch is an even better way to support the artists you love. Visit the Merch Table for this month’s playlist.

The Australian String Quartet continues their Australian Anthology series with South Australian composer Anne Cawrse’s A Room of Her Own. The third movement, Anon, featured in this month’s playlist, flows energetically between grace and dynamism – maintaining momentum with precision and ease. This sinks wondrously into the broody sonic palette of Spinning forth – Sarabande by Paul Cutlan performed by The Marais Project.

Of the playlist’s featured ABC Fresh Start commissions, the work of 2021 Don Banks Music Award winner William Barton stands out. Kalkani, performed with co-composer Véronique Serret, evokes connections between sky and earth in a gently unfurling horizon of sound. Whereas Dylan Crismani’s Shades of Blue draws from the sounds of the dunes and oceans of the Kaurna coastline. This leads to a detailed, all encompassing, textural wash performed by the composer and pianist Gabriella Smart, realised by ABC producer Jakub Gaudasinksi.

Four of 2021’s Art Music Fund recipients are lined up in the May playlist, creating an interesting quartet of pieces speaking on nature (figuratively or otherwise). The constantly morphing colours of Tilman Robinson’s The Word for World is Forest gives way to the sprawling ostinatos of Brenda Gifford’s Plover Bird and Ellen Kirkwood’s wildly varied jazz suite [A]part, before dissolving into Alexandra Spence’s fluid, electroacoustic soundscape, Tidewater I.

Other highlights this month include the life-giving bass of Kate Pass’ Nahafsi, Daniel Rojas’s gritty SalTango for the Baldini Quartet, Nardi Simpson’s The Binary, a spacious work for Scott Davie, and Stu Hunter’s The Bubble which brings me back to jazz-tinted echo of 2020’s lockdowns.

I hope you enjoy some of the new faces and sounds on the Aussie Art Music playlist this month – It’s been an exciting one to research and construct. If you’re looking for more to listen to, the full Australian Art Music Archive has also been updated on Spotify (now over 70 hours of music!).

Join me next month for the resonance of Australian string quartets.

– Cam

Australian Art Music Playlist

Curated by Cameron Lam


A Room of Her Own by Anne Cawrse | performed by Australian String Quartet
Spinning Forth – Sarabande by Paul Cutlan | performed by The Marais Project
Medieval Rococo by Thomas Meadowcroft | performed by Ensemble Offspring
The Binary by Nardi Simpson | performed by Scott Davie
Shades of Blue by Dylan Crismani | performed by Dylan Crismani & Gabriella Smart
frostbYte (Liten sno trinn) by Daniel Blinkhorn | performed by Tamara Anna Cislowska
The Bubble by Stu Hunter
Searching For The Map by Nat Bartsch
Clouds by Ruby Lulham | performed by Clariloops
The Rain Will Go Away by Natalie Nicolas | performed by Matt Withers
The Word for World Is Forest by Tilman Robinson
Plover Bird by Brenda Gifford | performed by Kamil Ellis & Ensemble Offspring
[A]part by Ellen Kirkwood | performed by Sirens Big Band, Sandy Evans, Andrea Keller & Gian Slater
Tidewater I by Alexandra Spence
disinvited by Shoeb Ahmad
Nahafsi by Kate Pass | performed by Kate Pass Kohesia Ensemble
SalTango by Daniel Rojas | performed by Baldini Quartet
Organised Chaos by Gemma Farrell | performed by Gemma Farrell Quintet
A Drunken Fingerprint Across the Sky by Ade Vincent | performed by Sophie Marcheff
Songs of Silent Earth by Natalie Williams | performed by Muses Trio
Kalkani by William Barton & Véronique Serret | performed by Véronique Serret & William Barton
Holy Dreaming by Alice Chance | performed by The Choir of Trinity College Melbourne, Alasdair Stretch, Beatrice Hart, Christopher Roache, Christopher Watson & Phillipa McQuinn

Want to recommend music for future playlists? Tag #AussieArtMusic on Twitter or Cameron Lam on Facebook or TwitterFor previously featured music and merch visit the Australian Art Music archive and archive Merch Table.

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