The 'higher listening grounds'

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Previous highlights

Past works include the Lydian Caprice—a commission from the London-based Wilhelm String Quartet—for their Australian tour and the Crossroads Festival (2010), the orchestral work First Light—winner of the New England Philharmonic Orchestra Boston Scores Competition (2010-11), music for the Swedish New Music group Levande Musik—the whacky Live Elevator Project, a concerto for leading Australian cor anglais performer and educator Rachel Tolmie with the Central Coast Concertante Ensemble (cond. Chris Bearman), a commission from the Australian Chamber Orchestra (under Carl Pini, and later Richard Tognetti), sponsored recording with the Millenium Symphony Orchestra (USA)—strings of Virginia Symphony Orchestra under American Classics Label conductor Robert Ian Winstin, a commission from awarded Dutch new music performers Erik Bosgraaf and Izhar Elias, performance with the Queensland Orchestra (cond. Richard Mills), premiere performances and ABC broadcasts with Australian guitar great Ken Murray (head of guitar at Melbourne Uni), a guitar concerto for Deutsche Grammophon artist Spanish guitar virtuoso Jose Maria Gallardo del Rey which was commissioned for the Darwin International Guitar Festival, a commissioned work from contemporary pianist Michael Hannan (author of the Sculthorpe biography and killer pianist!) for the Newcastle Bi-Centennial Authority 1988 and the the Blue Mountains New Music Festival 1988, and a commission from the Central Coast Philharmonia. There was also music for the play Performance Space production of the Aboriginal Protestors (director Noel Tovey) for the Sydney and Weimar Festivals, for the Central Coast Symphony Orchestra, a large choral work for the World Expo Brisbane 1988, and many more. Much of this goes back into the mid 1980s.

Recent commissions and awards

Ratoos for flutes in 3 parts. For the Flutation Festival, Central Coast Conservatorium, 3pm January 19th.

Gallipoli Sensings for the Wind Trio of the Royal Australian Navy Band Sydney, installation with the Contemporary Gallipoli exhibition. Grafton Regional Art Gallery 14.3.16 until 8.5.16

August announcement: a major APRA grant for the inaugural round of the Indigenous Composer Initiative, a mechanism for mentoring and producing Australian Indigenous composers working in new classical music and jazz music scores. Headed up by Chris and Kevin Hunt, with partners the AMC, APRA, Deborah Cheetham, Mooghalin Performing Arts, ANU, Sydney University Jazz and Musicology staff, and Eora College. A significant move for Indigenous music in Australia.

The Earth Song by former Senator Bob Brown (arranged for the Canberra Pop Up Choir by Chris), at the Canberra Writers Festival closing address, National Library Theatre, Canberra Sunday Aug 28th, 5.30pm.

Scar Tree for mixed ensemble (as part of the Footmarks dance event) - a modern ballet, commissioned by Alyssa Casey and the Primal Dance Company for Sydney Fringe Festival, Eternity Playhouse Darlighurst, Sept 5th, 7pm. Other Australian composer works in program are by Ian Munro and John Nottl. Congratulations Alyssa for commissioning three Australian composers!

Scar Tree Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford City, Sept 11th, 7pm.

The Sphinx for SAB choir. A commission from Avondale Conservatorium (Newcastle region) for the University choir 'The Promise'. Words by RW Emerson. September date to be advised.

The Magic of This Dawn for Symphonic wind. Sept 11th at 630pm, Chatswood Concourse Theatre, Sydney. Commissioned by conductor Patrick Brennan for the North Sydney Symphonic Wind Ensembles Spring Festival, and December tour of Japan.

The Flowergirlsfor solo oboe, at the Australian Double Reed Society National Conference and Competition, a set work for higher level competitors, Oct 1st and 2nd, Sydney Grammer School, College St, Darlinghurst.

Scar Tree Wyong Art House Theatre Oct 7th, 7pm.

North Country Skethches for guitar, Sydney/NSW premiere by touring Italian virtuoso Gian Marco Ciampa. Sat 15th Oct, 7pm, Robert Knox Hall, Gosford City.

Scar Tree Port Macquarie Glasshouse Theatre, Oct 16th, 7pm.

Brackish Songs for mezzo-soprano and guitar, featuring Giuseppe Zangari and Michaele Archer, hosted by the College of Arts and Social Sciences Indigenous lecture-recital, Theatre 3, ANU, 5pm Oct 19th.

Gallipoli Sensings also at Waverley Library Gallery Exhibition Space 3.11.16 until 25.1.17. An installation playing all day every day for near two months, with possible live event on 11th Nov. This piece featured in the Contemporary Gallipoli Exhibition that was a finalist in the Museums and Galleries Association of NSW 2015 Imagine Awards.

The Central Coast Symphony Orchestra will play Australian Concert Overture at 230pm, on 4th December, Central Coast Grammar School Auditorium. This is the first performance of this work for 30 years, since it won the Australian Young Composer Award in 1986.

In 2014 -15:

A Regional Development Australia grant for Civic Melancholy for two pianos, and for the Brackish Songs for mezzo-soprano and guitar, set with screened images of regional Australia looming large over the musicians—images by photographer Jamie Holcombe. February and March 2015. (See Home page for more detail on the two Gosford concerts). Significantly, this constituted an inter-regional dialogue between a composer from the Central Coast of NSW and a photographer from the Riverina. In September and October 2015 this show was then staged at the Wagga Wagga Regional Gallery.

In 2014 and 2015 Sainsbury was commissioned to complete two new works to contribute to the youth orchestra repertoire, an important initiative by Australian conductor Patrick Brennan. His Concert Overture - Beach Holiday was performed by the Central Coast Youth Orchestra in 2014, and Where Cooling Zephyrs Breathe was performed by the same group in 2015. (See Home page for more detail).

In April of 2015 his Gallipoli Sensings was performed by the Wind Trio of the Royal Australian Navy Band Sydney. (See Home page for more detail).

Regionalism and background

In many of his works Sainsbury concentrates on sounding relationship with place. He identifies images from his home region and then reassembles them interpretatively in new music works that fortify a sense of region. Whilst not all of his output stems from such a stance, this regionalist approach is important to him, especially given the homogenizing global influences that he observes contemporary music exerts upon many composers. Whilst Sainsbury works nationally and internationally, he loves to work with local musicians and community in his home region of the Central Coast of New South Wales. Part of his regionalist position is informed by his heritage, a mixed heritage which includes Australian Aboriginal, a rare position for a composer in Australia. He actively participates in the Aboriginal community as well as in Aboriginal education, and his background brings meaning to many of his works.

Sainsbury holds a PhD in music composition from the Conservatorium Faculty of Sydney University. He earlier studied with Australian orchestration giants Richard Mills and James Penberthy at the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education, Lismore (the wonderful old CAE era in Australia)! He has also received tuition from Sydney-based jazz composer/arranger Col Loughnan and Broadway orchestrator Larry Hochmann. In 1987 he attended the Aspen Contemporary Music School where he attended masterclasses with Bernard Rands and Jacob Druckman.

Guitar music

In 2008 he recorded a solo guitar CD—Anima. This featured in the track for the Aboriginal film 'Big Fella'. He is a great exponent of guitar bi-tones, and his Masters thesis was on bi-tones. His North Country Sketches (excerpt below) are featured in the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) guitar syllabus for higher grades. He continues to write extensively for guitar, especially in ensemble contexts, and in the last few years has written much acoustic surf music which he enjoys performing. Surf music is part of his research interests. The Brackish Songs for mezzo-soprano and guitar are amongst the most recent work including guitar. Hear track on Home page.

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Sainsbury has taught in all aspects of song-writing and composition, in ethnomusicology, Australian music, guitar, improvisation, creative practice as research, and music theory. Over the years he has taught mainly at the Eora College Redfern (Sydney). In the past he has also taught for the Avondale College, the Darwin Guitar Festival (NTU), Lismore Conservatorium, UTS, the Central Coast Conservatorium in Gosford City, and various high schools. Currently he teaches at the ANU in Canberra.

Visit the Hear Sounds page to hear sounds, and the List of Works page for more information.