Christopher Sainsbury
Composer - Songwriter - Guitarist - Educator

Composer - songwriter - guitarist - educator

"Surely this year's Australian musician of the moment"

(The Australian Music Centre's Resonate magazine May 2019)

"Cinematically tonal, and vivid"

(The Boston Globe 2010)

Brief Introduction

Christopher Sainsbury is an accomplished composer and a highly experienced music educator, and is Associate Professor in Composition at the Australian National University (ANU). He has made a sustained contribution to Australian music as a working composer in regional, community and professional music arenas for many years. As an Indigenous person he maintains a commitment to lifting the profile of Indigenous Australian composers, and is founder and artistic director of the Ngarra-burria First Peoples Composers program (see Ngarra-burria on this site). In 2020 he won an Australian leading Classical/Jazz music award - the Inaugural APRA National Luminary Award, awarded for the impact the Ngarra-burria program has had on the music industry. He writes in various styles and genres, from simple solo instrumental works to large orchestral works, and from surf music to jazz. 

Hear more:

VCE Curriculum piece

Recent performances / releases / new commissions / events

A selection:

* Christopher Sainsbury - Winner Apra (Art Music) National Luminary Award (Individual) 2020, for his work in the Ngarra-burria First Peoples Composers program, which has fast become an integral part of the Australian music industry.

* Red Kangaroo Standing: a new commission from Canberra's leading contemporary group the Griffyn Ensemble, an interpretive setting of Indigenous Minister Ken Wyatt's maiden speech to Parliament. Lyrics by Melinda Smith.

* Singing Stone: for Ken Murray with Ensemble Three (Melbourne) 2021. Performance ANU Sept 2. 

* 'The Visitors': a new opera commissioned by the Victorian Opera Company for the 2023 season. Cond. Richard Mills.

* Bardo: flute trio for Mark Xiao and friends, for the Australian Flute Festival July 2019, Sydney Conservatorium.

* Clock and Bells: for Oriana Choir (directed by Dan Walker), co-composed with Aboriginal musician Darryl Griffen.

* Mari yanna: a Graduation/ceremonial piece commissioned by the ANU Chancellery, with Indigenous context, for ANU orchestra directed by Chris.

* The SSO. String Talk - a commission from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, directed by Marin Alsop, for August 2020. (Now scheduled in November 2021). Recorded by the ABC in April 2021.

* The Random Earth Band new CD (see guitar page).

* Beach Holiday: for youth orchestra. Performed by Canberra Youth Orchestra 2019

* Dying River Party: for solo clarinet. Performed by Eloise Fisher, ANU 2019, Shawn Earle (Wa, USA), and others. 

* ABC Recording and broadcast of Bardo and other woodwind works, performed by Mark Xiao and friends, ABC Classic Radio.

* ABC Recording and broadcast of The Arrival and also Grainger in Bourke St, Edward Neeman piano, ABC Classic Radio.

* A new work for the National Carillon, commissioned by the National Capitol Authority and Thomas Laue, for 2020.

* Weereewa/Lake Music: Installation piece in collaboration with the photo-media artist Rowan Conroy, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery July - September 2019. See guitar page.

* The Arrival: a commission for Friends of Chopin Australia and Teddy (Edward) Neeman solo piano, October 2018.

* Djagamara: for Griffyn Ensemble (flute and harp version) recent Sorry Day concert, Glebe Park Canberra. Dedicated to James MacLeod.

* Ngarra- burria composers with Ensemble Offspring tour to Brewarrina to participate in the Baiame's Ngunnhu Festival 2018 and again in 2020.

* Spirit Land: orchestral piece and soundtrack for film "Spirit Land". Central Coast Youth Orchestra and Central Coast Symphony Orchestra, Central Coast Grammar School Auditorium, Erina Sept. 2017 and film launch Dec. 2017, The Hub, Erina, NSW. Repeated screenings in Central Coast cinemas.

* Juljul: for Turner Trebles Children's Choir, Canberra International Music Festival April 2017. Repeated performances.

* As Wild as All Get Out: Carillon piece for Canberra International Music Festival, May and June 2017 at National Carillon Park, Canberra. Repeat performances in Spain and Belgium, July 2017.

* Mud Moon: a string trio commission for milestone birthday celebrations of Australian ceramicist Ros Auld, 2018.

Featured CD

The Sainsbury solo guitar CD, 10 years young now. (Click image to order):

Click on CDs for email / ordering page