Featured Composer: Nicholas Routley

Source: Australian Music Centre

Source: Australian Music Centre

Nicholas Routley was born in England and educated at George Heriot's School, Edinburgh, and St John's College, Cambridge. There he studied piano under Peter Feuchtwanger, composition with Patrick Gowers, and analysis and conducting with Hans Heimler, a pupil of Weingartner. He has a passionate interest in the music and culture of India

Routley emigrated to Australia in 1975 to take up a post at the Department of Music at the University of Sydney, and became an Australian citizen in 1984. He was twice seconded to the University of Hong Kong for periods of three years. The founder-director of the Sydney Chamber Choir, Routley has also conducted the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and several other orchestras in Australia and East Asia. He has also been active as a professional pianist, especially in vocal and chamber music, having performed extensively with the tenor Gerald English and the counter-tenor Hartley Newnham, among many others, and has given recitals in many European countries, Hong Kong, and Australia.

Returning to composition in 1996, Routley has composed a large-scale choral work Mycenae Lookout, for baritone soloist, choir, two pianos, and percussion, and three orchestral pieces (a symphony, a symphonic poem, and a guitar concerto) as well as numerous works for voice and piano, two small-scale choral works, and works for brass. His work has been described as polystylist - it derives most of its stylistic base from a combination of postmodern and Romantic influences, but also often reflects his deep love of the music of Josquin des Prez. Other influences include Ross Edwards and Michael Tippett; recently he has been strongly affected by South Indian music. His current composition project is to write three operas on the Indian epic, Mahabharata.

Routley has developed a special relationship with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, as both conductor and composer, including three major commissions. The Sydney University Musical Society, the guitarist Adrian Walter, and the trombonist Greg Vanderstruik are among many performers and organisations who have commissioned works from him.

Nicholas Routley's piece, Draupadi's Aria, was premiered in PLEXUS: We have lift off on 24 February 2014 at fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne.

Draupadi's Aria (2014)

The composer writes: “A long time ago the Kauravas, in particular Duryodhana and Dushassana, humiliated Draupadi, wife of all five of the Pandavas their cousins. Since then they have been enemies. She has waited 13 years for her revenge. Now Arjuna, her favourite among her husbands, is riding out onto the field of battle in his chariot, which is driven by Krishna. In  the middle of this aria Krishna talks to Arjuna, and what he says has become known as the Bhagavad Gita. But Draupadi can't hear it, she is too far away... This aria occurs at the start of the third act of my opera, Draupadi. The present arrangement was commissioned by Monica Curro for this inaugural concert of Plexus.”

© Nicholas Routley 2014