Featured Composer: Maria Grenfell


Maria Grenfell (b. 1969) was born in Malaysia, and completed composition studies in Christchurch, New Zealand.  She obtained a Masters degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and a Doctorate from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she was also a lecturer.  Her teachers have included Stephen Hartke, Erica Muhl, James Hopkins and Morten Lauridsen in Los Angeles, and Joseph Schwantner and Samuel Adler in New York.  Maria Grenfell’s work takes much of its influence from poetic, literary and visual sources and from non-Western music and literature.  Her music has been performed by musicians such as members of eighth blackbird (Music X Festival, 2010), the Australia Ensemble, The Seymour Group, the Vienna Piano Trio, the New Zealand Trio, and numerous other chamber ensembles. She has been commissioned, performed or recorded by all the major symphony orchestras in Australia and New Zealand.   In 2012 she won a state award for Best Instrumental Work at the Australian Art Music Awards.  Her music is broadcast regularly in Australia and New Zealand, and is released on Kiwi-Pacific and Trust CDs.  Her works are available from the Australian Music Centre, SouNZ New Zealand Music Centre and Reed Music.

Maria serves on the Board of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and assists at the Symphony Australia TSO Composers’ School, an annual emerging composer program.  Maria has taught at the University of Southern California, given guest lectures at the University of Houston, the University of Melbourne, and from January to May 2013 she was Visiting Professor of Composition at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.  She was a violinist with the Christchurch Symphony and the New Zealand Youth Orchestra, and performed bowed piano with the University of Southern California Percussion Ensemble.  Maria lives in Hobart with her husband, guitarist David Malone, and their two children, and is Senior Lecturer and Co-ordinator of Classical Music at the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music.

Maria Grenfell's new work Voyage was premiered in PLEXUS: Post-Patriarchal on 16 March 2015 at the Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre.

Voyage is a musical journey via a melodic idea that travels through different guises of texture, tempo, and mood created by the interweaving lines of the three instruments.  In writing this work, I also thought of the spiritual and emotional voyage that pioneering ANZAC women such as nurse Rachel Pratt undertook when travelling across the world to serve in the First World War.  We are inspired by their courage.

– Maria Grenfell