Festival of Summer Voices

Composer School

Dates: Tuesday 7 January – Monday 20 January
Venue: The University of New South Wales, accommodation at the Kensington Colleges (on campus)
Cost: $1,575 – Cost does not include return travel to Sydney at the beginning and end of the season.
Means tested bursaries are available by application.

Gondwana Composer School is a truly unique opportunity for emerging composers to develop their craft during two intensive weeks in January. Under the expert guidance of leading composers Paul Stanhope (Associate Professor, Sydney Conservatorium of Music) and Gordon Hamilton (Artistic Director, the Australian Voices), participants are mentored throughout the entire creative process, including composition, revision, rehearsal, workshopping, performance and recording.

In the first week, composers will be challenged to write a piece in 5 days for one of the resident choirs at National Choral School. Each composer is mentored through this process by Paul Stanhope, leading to a concert in which each composer’s piece performed by their choir.

In 2020, we will offer only 6 places, one for each choir. Composers of all ages are encouraged to apply.

Applications close 23 September 2019.


A Sydney-based composer and conductor, Paul Stanhope is a leading figure in his generation. He has had prominent performances of his works in the UK, Europe, Asia as well as North and South America. After studies with Peter Sculthorpe, Paul studied for a time at the Guildhall School of Music in London in 2000. In May 2004 Paul’s international standing was confirmed when he was awarded first place in the Toru Takemitsu Composition Prize. In 2010 he was Musica Viva’s featured composer and in 2016 Composer-in-Residence at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville.

Paul has composed for all combinations of vocal and instrumental forces including a number of major works in recent years for large forces such as Jandamarra: Sing for the Country a dramatic cantata based on the life of the Western Australian indigenous resistance hero, premiered by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra together with Gondwana Choirs and members of the Bunuba nation in 2014.

Paul is a Senior Lecturer in composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, as well as director of Choral Programs.e was Musical Director of the Sydney Chamber Choir from 2006-2015 and is also the Artistic Chair of the Australia Ensemble @UNSW.



As a composer, recent works by Gordon Hamilton subvert expectations of the orchestra by introducing foreign elements. He conducted his 2015 concerto for beatboxer and orchestra ‘Thum Prints’ at the 2016 BBC Proms AU with star beatboxer Tom Thum – a work which has since been taken up by numerous orchestras world-wide. Recently Gordon traveled to Antarctica to compose ‘Far South’, a symphony – to be premiered jointly by Tasmanian & Melbourne Symphony Orchestras and the London Mozart Players – in which field recordings of ice, ocean and whales interact with the orchestra.

Gordon has arranged and conducted several crossover projects, including with Australian Hip Hop acts Horrorshow and Thundamentals, and with Cuban jazz pianist Marialy Pacheco. Arts Hub has described him as “one of the QSO’s secret weapons … with bonafides in the territories of Hip Hop and Classical music.” In 2019 he will conduct the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra at Dark Mofo Festival for ‘Riceboy Sleeps’ by Jónsi (of Sigur Rós) and Alex Sommers.

Also known for his work as a choral conductor and composer, Gordon took over in 2009 as Artistic Director of one of Australia’s foremost vocal ensembles, The Australian Voices (TAV). Gordon has led TAV in its mission of commissioning innovative music by Australian composers.