Featured Collaborator: Katy Abbott

Image by  Hayden Shepherd Photography

Katy Abbott's (1971) music leads the listener through a narrative of sound, exploring concepts of home, place and human nature, frequently exhibiting a cheeky humour and cleverly juxtaposing contemporary flavours on traditional settings. 

Abbott's compositions have been performed, published and recorded around the world, brought to life by many of leading Australian ensembles including HalcyonThe Song Company, Syzygy Ensemble, Ironwood Chamber Ensemble and several major symphony orchestras. Her works have been played in UK, Europe, Asia and the USA and featured in Australian and International music festivals including the International Alliance of Women in Music (IAWM), conference in Beijing and the Melbourne and Perth International Festivals.

A versatile creative talent, her body of work incorporates orchestra, chamber and music for voice, an area where she exhibits a particular flair. She completed her PhD in 2007 including a guide to writing for the voice as her thesis, working with Brenton Broadstock and Linda Kouvaras at the University of Melbourne. Several of her works appear on the AMEB, ANZCA and VCE/HSC syllabi.

Abbott won the 2013 Boston Metro Opera ‘Gold Medal for Art-Song’ for her new song-cycle The Domestic Sublime and the 2011 Albert H. Maggs Award for Composition. She also spent several weeks at Banff at the Centre for the Arts on an independent residency at the Leighton Colony and later at a Bundanon Trust Artist Residency.

Orchestral works include The Peasant Prince commissioned Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and is the story of dancer Li Cunxin, which premiered with great success in May 2009. Her symphony Souls of Fire (2004), was released in 2008 as a recording with the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra. Introduced Species (2014) was commissioned for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Education Arm which explores the work of Australian artist Matthew Quick and the North Pacific Ocean’s Garbage Patch/Trash Vortex.

Apart from these orchestral works, significant compositions include song-cycle No Ordinary Traveler (2006) for HalcyonMultiSonics (2010) for Australian bassoonist, Mark Gaydon, The Domestic Sublime (2011) recorded by Greta Bradman and Leigh HarroldUndercurrenT (2011) for soprano saxophone and piano and Midnight Songs (2013) for flugel, trombone, guitar and loop pedals; recorded by Ensemble Three on their 2016 album Midnight Songs

Abbott has four solo discs: Sunburnt Aftertones: The Chamber Music of Katy Abbott (Move Records), The Domestic Sublime: the vocal music of Katy Abbott (ABC Classics) and Famous (Leeward Side Records). Punch: the Brass Music of Katy Abbott (out late Sept 2017, ABC Classics).  Her scores are published by Reed Music, Promethean Editions (NZ)The Australian Music Centre and Morton Music. 

Katy's current work (2017) is a festival piece for The Song Company and Syzygy Ensemble based on the 'hidden thoughts' of women collected in an anonymous survey.  

As well as freelance composition, Abbott is Lecturer in Composition at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne

© Rebecca Christensen 2017

For further information, please visit katyabbott.com

PLEXUS gave the world premiere of Katy Abbott's newly commissioned work in PLEXUS: Perpendicular on Monday 3rd December 2018 at the Melbourne Recital Centre Salon.