Bruce Crossman sees his music as an expression of the inner life (spiritual and emotional) in combination with a conscious intellectualism, which aims to express a ‘life essence’ to an audience. The music combines aspects of the Pacific locale (colour and quotations) and European heritage (lyricism and structural sense) within a jazz improvisational sense.
Bruce was born in 1961 in New Zealand, studied overseas, and now resides permanently in Australia. In New Zealand he studied composition with Jack Speirs at the University of Otago where he was awarded a Master of Music (with Distinction). Later on in England, he studied with David Blake at the University of York gaining a Master of Philosophy degree. Finally, he studied composition with Ross Edwards, Andrew Schultz, and creative-process with Sharon Bell at the University of Wollongong, where he was awarded a Doctor of Creative Arts in 2000. He has held academic positions at Wollongong and Waikato Universities as well as being awarded composition residencies at the University of Otago and the Nelson School of Music. Currently, Crossman is the Coordinator of Composition at the University of Western Sydney in Australia.
Bruce has won a number of awards including the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra's Corbould Composition Competition and the New Zealand Emergent Composers’ Award. An Australian Postgraduate Award and York University Scholarship helped support his postgraduate composition study. In 1990 he was a Composition Fellow at the Pacific Music Festival (PMF) in Japan. He has also had works selected for performance at international festivals such as Tunugan ’97 in the Philippines, Asian Music Week 2000 in Japan, and the 2002 Asian Contemporary Music Festival in Korea. Currently he is working on the string trio Fierce Tranquility commissioned for the Pacific Rim Music Festival, New and Traditional 2005 at Santa Cruz, United States.
Pacific musical identity, an issue emphasized at the PMF, is a central concern of his musical aesthetic. In this regard, Peter Sculthorpe, Chou Wen-chung and Chinary Ung were influential. Crossman’s large orchestral piece Sound Rituals, premiered in Yokohama, explores this identity. The piece utilises an Eastern ‘living colour’ approach and rhythmic orientated Filipino musical fragments in contrast with an atonal lyricism and structural sense, more European in orientation. He has written on Pacific musical identity issues for the Leonardo Music Journal.
Crossman has received commissions from Europe and the Pacific, including: chamber ensemble HEX (Holland), pianists Rajmil Fischmann (United Kingdom) and Marcel Worms (Holland), The Southern Consort of Voices (New Zealand), and pianist Vanessa Sharman and mezzo-soprano Lotte Latukefu (Australia). Other performers of his music include those from Asia with the Kanagawa Philharmonic and the Korean Symphony Orchestra, as well as from Australasia such as the Queensland Philharmonic, Auckland Philharmonic and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras.
Outside composition, Crossman’s interests include abstract expressionist painters and poetry drawn from the Pacific region, including Hone Tuwhare and Merlinda Bobis’ work. He also enjoys jazz and occasionally performs solo piano improvisations.
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