Featured Collaborator: Linda Kouvaras
Linda Kouvaras is a Melbourne composer, musicologist, and pianist. She has not studied composition formally but co-wrote many songs in the Punk/New Wave band, Voxpop, with co-instigator Richard Ward (see Who's Who of Australian Rock!, Melbourne: Five Mile Press, 2002) during her seven-year Easter break from university studies in the early 1980s. She has benefited greatly from very generous feedback over the years, particularly that from Ward, Brenton Broadstock, Stuart Greenbaum, Richard Zatorski and Katy Abbott Kvasnica. Kouvaras has a proclivity toward text-setting, as well as writing for piano and for strings. Extra-musical catalysts incorporate a wide variety of subject matter; Inflight! (commissioned by the Australian Contemporary Chorale, 2004), for example, is a humorous work, underpinned by a sleazy blues-based bass. The far graver Anagnorisis (53 days) (2002) mixes neo-modal and minimalist soundworlds.
Recordings of Kouvaras's performances and compositions appear on independent release, with Move Records, and with the ABC. At its release, her CD Kouvaras: Piano Works was CD of the Week on ABC Classic FM. The Sky is Melting by Rothschild-Riddle Duo (Move Records, 2014) includes her eponymously titled work for violin and piano as well as her Bundanon Sonata for Violin and Piano.
Kouvaras has enjoyed four artist-in-residence stays (1999, 2000, 2001, 2010) at the Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Estate, Bundanon, NSW. Festival performances of her works include the National Composing Women's Festivals, the Melbourne Fringe Festival (2001), the Port Fairy Festival (2001 & 2002), and the Perth New Music Week (2001). Deviani Segal and Linda Thompson commissioned her to write Distant Lullaby for their CD of Australian lullabies, Repose, while Ian Holtham has recorded Secrets of the Amphitheatre on Giants in the Land. Kouvaras's The Sky is Melting (2000) and Bundanon Sonata for violin and piano (2011) are included on the CD The Sky is Melting (Move 2014).
Kouvaras studied piano in the UK in 1984, returning to Melbourne University to complete her AMus in piano (1986), BMus (Hons) (1988), and Master's (1991). She also holds a PhD in musicology (1996). Her piano teachers included Ronald Farren-Price and Max Cooke, while research work was supervised by musicologist Malcolm Gillies, composer Brenton Broadstock, musicologist Naomi Cumming, and historian David Goodman. In the course of her studies Kouvaras received some 16 prizes/awards/scholarships as well as a Senior Research Fellowship at the Australia Centre.
Kouvaras publishes in contemporary music, both classical and popular, focusing especially on Australian music, postmodernism and gender issues in music. She was awarded an ARC Discovery Project Grant to research issues of postmodernism in contemporary Australian art music (2005-08). Linda is an Associate Professor in Music at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, the University of Melbourne; she is a piano examiner for the Australian Music Examinations Board and has been Academic Coordinator in Music and Creative Arts at Ormond College since 1993.
Her book, Loading the Silence: Australian Sound Art in the Post-Digital Age (2013) is published by Ashgate. It won the IASPM-ANZ Rebecca Coyle publication prize in 2014.
Kouvaras writes: 'My composition practice explores various postmodern approaches, including incorporating popular-music styles, minimalism and neo-tonal/modal structures. Extra-musical impetus ranges from humour to the tragic, kitsch to the high-order contemplative - all with the human condition as focal point.'