is a national organisation which promotes private sector support for the arts through three programs:
We make connections. We work with businesses large and small, arts organisations of all types, individual artists, trusts and foundations. We provide advice, professional development, volunteering and networking opportunities.
Founded by Paul Grabowsky in 1994, The Australian Art Orchestra has built an unparalleled reputation for the breadth and quality of its output. Initially conceived as a contemporary jazz orchestra the group was soon recognised as a serious commissioner and interpreter of new notated works. It also developed a reputation for cross-cultural collaborations that were more ambitious than anything seen in Australian music previously and it delved into hybrid forms well before the terminology for such approaches became commonplace.
The AAO’s work constantly seeks to stretch genres and break down the barriers separating disciplines, forms and cultures. It explores the interstices between the avant-garde and the traditional, between art and popular music, between electronic and acoustic approaches, and creates works that traverse the continuum between improvised and notated forms.
In January 2013, the AAO entered a new period of artistic leadership under the guidance of Artistic Director, Peter Knight. Knight is an internationally acclaimed composer, trumpeter and sound artist who has toured extensively throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, garnering wide acclaim for an eclectic approach that integrates jazz, world music, and experimental traditions.
With its multi-faceted programming initiatives, the AAO fosters and supports a strong and vibrant local contemporary music scene drawing inspiration from Australia’s cultural diversity. Central to this is an ongoing dedication to nurturing and deepening its dialogues with Australian indigenous cultures as well as maintaining strong connections with artistic collaborators in India, Korea, China and Indonesia. The Orchestra has a record of commitment to the notion of a future in which truly new music that integrates Asian and Western influences is part of the cultural fabric of our region.
The Australian Art Orchestra regularly tours both locally and internationally with recent cities including Hong Kong, Toronto, Paris, London, Brisbane and Chennai. It has won numerous awards for its work including three Australian Jazz Bell awards (most recently in 2014), the 2014 AMC/APRA Art Music Award ‘Excellence by an Organisation’, 2013 AMC/APRA Art Music Award ‘Performance of the Year’, a 2010 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards (Group Award), the H C Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship (2010), a Helpmann Award (2004), and a 2009 Classical Music award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Australian Music in a Regional Area’.
Since the release of her first album in 2000, jazz pianist and composer Andrea Keller has established herself as an important contributor to Australian jazz and contemporary music. Dedicated to the performance and creation of contemporary, original jazz and improvised music, she has been described as having “one of Australia’s most consistently interesting musical minds” (Doug Spencer 2007).
Best known for leading the Andrea Keller Quartet and the Bartok Project, Keller has been a member of many contemporary jazz ensembles and duos. She was a founding member of the Bennetts Lane Big Band, and her performance calendar is increasingly marked by solo concert performances.
As a composer and arranger, Keller has received commissions from a broad spectrum of musicians, ensembles and organizations. She is a represented artist of the Australian Music Centre.
Keller’s music has attracted high acclaim in Australia, winning her three Aria Awards, four Australian Jazz ‘Bell’ Awards, an Art Music Award, an MCA/Freedman Foundation Jazz Fellowship, and an Australia Council Fellowship.
“Her work is always lit brightly by the spark of originality.”
– Roger Mitchell, 2012.
“One of this country’s most daring and fascinating composers, she produces work that bristles with surprises, a powerful blend of European lyricism with space and improvisation.”
– Leon Gettler, 2005.
Stephen Magnusson is considered one of Australia’s most accomplished, versatile and distinct musicians with incredible technique and an astoundingly beautiful tone. His hectic schedule shows that he is a delight to work with and someone that has ‘something to say’ in the world of improvised music.
He was given his first ukulele at 3, his first guitar at 6 and began performing at 10 on an electric guitar that he loaned from his schoolteacher. At 13, he started to study under the guidance of Gordon Pendleton at the Box Hill Tafe and discovered the world of improvised music.
In 1986, he studied at the esteemed Victorian College of the Arts under the supervision of some of Australia’s finest musicians – Tony Gould, Bob Sedergreen and Mike Doyle. Here he expanded his practice regime and playing. He joined various bands playing numerous styles and developed an understanding of different methods. But, his main focus remained, to develop and hone the craft of mastering the guitar.
He travelled to Europe and lived there and after being appointed on the staff at The Academy of Contemporary Music (Zurich) in 1997, Stephen met his long time collaborator – Sergio Beresovsky. They began to perform regularly with Swedish bassist – Bjorn Meyer and in the July of the same year, Australian saxophonist Julien Wilson travelled to meet and play with the trio. After the first week of playing, they formed SNAG and produced a self-titled album (released in Australia ‘Hey Guess What’).
After 3 years of living in Zurich, Stephen returned to Melbourne in August 2000. He entered the National Jazz Award at Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival, were he tied for first place amongst much controversy. At this festival he performed with his trio featuring Sergio and Eugene Ball. This recorded result is captured on the CD ‘Healing Songs’.
He has worked with many artists including Charlie Haden, Meshell Ndegeocello, Ricki Lee Jones, Sinead O’Connor, John Cale, Gurrumul Yunupingu, Paul Grabowsky, Vince Jones, Katie Noonan, Lisa Young, Christine Sullivan, Michelle Nicole, Martin Breeze, The Assumptions Trio, Megan Washington, Paul Kelly, Jim Black, Mike Nock, Barney McAll, Enrico Rava, Arthur Blythe and many others. As a part of the Katie Noonan trio Elixir, the ensemble won the ARIA for Best Jazz Album in 2011.
In 2013, Stephen was awarded the Melbourne Prize for Outstanding Musician, and the Australian Jazz Bell Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album with his quartet MAGNET (with Carl Pannuzzo, Eugene Ball and Sergio Beresovsky).
Stephen is currently concentrating on writing for his duo Boundaries with Frank DiSario, and trio MAG featuring DiSario and Dave Beck. He will also be completing the second release from MAGNET, SOM.
Formed originally in 1985, the Paul Grabowsky Trio(Paul Grabowsky – Piano; Philip Rex – Double Bass; Niko Schauble – Drums) is one of Australia’s most original and successful jazz groups. PG3 plays innovative and demanding original compositions by Paul Grabowsky and his arrangements of standards and classics from the jazz repertoire.
In 1988 the PG3’s debut recording, Six by Three (Spiral Scratch), was released. Six by Three went on to win an ARIA for Jazz Album of the Year 1989. The trio’s second album, When Words Fail (Origin) also won an ARIA award in 1996. Three (Origin) was released in 2000 and in 2004, PG3 released Big Adventure (ABC Classics) – both albums have received much critical acclaim.
The Paul Grabowsky Trio regularly tours nationally appearing in major jazz venues and festivals and has just returned from Mexico City in April 2005.
As fine as anything recorded anywhere… Grabowsky is a vital musical presence in this country. Empathy does not really come close to describing the rapport…As rich and sharp as a Boyd painting… This trio must be in love with one another. James Valentine (Rolling Stone)
The music is appropriately lustrous, Grabowsky is an outstanding pianist, as inventive as he is eloquent. Without doubt this is one of the best Australian jazz recordings…
Adrian Jackson (Business Review Weekly)
When Grabowsky makes a trio recording of his own, it is full of commitment and integrity. This is a piano trio that can be played beside those of Bill Evans and Paul Bley…
Gail Brennan (Sydney Morning Herald)
Giving thanks for this magic album.
Michael Foster (Canberra Times)
Photo Credit: Jeff Wassmann