“The primary task, I feel, is to create a piece of art that is better than the same amount of silence; I would prefer to sit silently thinking for 10 minutes than to listen to certain pieces of music, and therefore feel that it is my duty as a composer to occupy the time of the listener and the musicians with something challenging, engaging and emotionally alluring.”

Nico Muhly. Photo © Ana Cuba

The words are Nico Muhly’s, one of today’s most sought-after and prolific composers, whose considerable number and range of commissions suggest that plenty of people out there believe he’s successfully fulfilling his stated primary objective. In fact, the American musician, now 37 years of age, has been building a steady following over the last decade, as testified to by the Metropolitan Opera who have commissioned him twice – Two Boys(2011) and Marnie(2017) – an honour unique in that institution’s 140-year history. Now, it seems, Australians can’t get enough of him with Omega Ensemble, ACO Collective and Gondwana Choirs all performing new works by Muhly this year.

So how did those commissions come...