Anne Cawrse

Anne Cawrse is an Adelaide based composer of acoustic orchestral, chamber and vocal music. Her music has been described as ‘beguilingly beautiful’, ‘profoundly telling’ and ‘lush and ecstatic’. Anne’s music blends soaring, lyrical melodies, dexterous rhythmic interplay and an unpredictably colourful harmonic palette. She is particularly fond of discovering the expressive musical potential hidden within the words of female writers.

Growing up in the small rural town of Freeling in South Australia, Anne moved to Adelaide to pursue studies in composition at the Elder Conservatorium of Music. In 2008 she completed her PhD in Composition under the supervision of Graeme Koehne and Charles Bodman Rae.  Anne’s penchant for text setting has made her the most commissioned composer of the award-winning Adelaide Chamber Singers (five commissions since 2005) and a highly revered art song composer, with notable performances by Greta Bradman, Lorina Gore, Emma Horwood, Robert Macfarlane, Kate Macfarlane, Cheryl Pickering and Bethany Hill. She is also a renowned orchestral and chamber music composer, with major commissions from the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, the Australian String Quartet, the Adelaide Wind Orchestra, the Benaud Trio, and the Zephyr Quartet. Her first opera, Innocence, based on the novel ‘Time’s Long Ruin’ by Stephen Orr, was commissioned by Singular Productions with support from an Arts SA Major Commission grant.

Anne’s choral work On Earth As In Heaven received the SA State award at the 2018 APRA/Australian Music Centre Classical Music Awards, and her orchestral work Musaic (composed for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra) was a finalist in the 2008 awards. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Bishop Memorial Commission, a 2020 ABC Classic Fresh Start grant, the Momentum III Covid-19 Sue W Special Commission and the inaugural Women in Music commission. Meaningful musical collaborations include works for Katie Noonan’s vocal quartet AVE, guitarist Alex Tsiboulski, pianists Michael Ierace, Stefan Cassemenos and Leigh Harrold, Sharon and Slava Grigoryan, the Bowerbird Collective, and percussionist Claire Edwardes. A favourite in new music circles in Adelaide, Anne gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of many of the preeminent music organisations in her hometown. Alongside the aforementioned groups, she has received multiple commissions from Various People Inc., is a frequent contributor to the chamber music programs of The Firm New Music Concert series, and has been regularly performed by the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra. 

In June 2021, Anne curated ‘She Speaks’, a day-long festival presented by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Elder Conservatorium of Music. Over three concerts and a symposium, solo, chamber and orchestral works by female composers past and present took centre stage. This included the first main-stage concert by a major Australian orchestra of an all-female program in over 30 years. Reviewers described the day as ‘brilliantly programmed’, ‘memorable’ and boasting ‘a pressing sense of purpose’.

Anne is a casual member of staff at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, teaching composition and music theory. She has tutored composition privately at tertiary and senior secondary level, and as part of the ASME Young Composer’s Program (2015) and the Australian Youth Orchestra’s Composition program (2021 and 2022).

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