Featured Composer: Sally Greenaway


Sally Greenaway (b.1984) is an award-winning composer whose music spans a wide assortment of styles and genres, including numerous classical works, several jazz big band works, and more than 20 film sound tracks. 
Greenaway graduated from the Royal College of Music, London in (2010), where she was the recipient of the Lucy Ann Jones Award and several other scholarships. It was there that she focussed on the art of film composition and orchestration.

Her jazz piano and jazz arranging/composition skills were first developed at the Jazz Department at the ANU School of Music, where she obtained a BMus in 2005.

Greenaway's composition mentors include Joseph Horovitz (BBC composer), Ken Hesketh (Schott Music), Debbie Wiseman (Hollywood composer), Jennie Musket (Hollywood composer), Laurence Hobgood (USA Jazz pianist), Mike Moran (BBC composer & pianist to Freddie Mercury), Dave Panichi (USA/Aus jazz trombonist & jazz composer), and Paul MacNamara (Aus jazz pianist).

Greenaway’s composition awards include the APRA/JMO National Big Band Composition Competition (2008), with her piece 'Falling of Seasons'. As part of the competition, she conducted her piece for the Mothership Orchestra during a concert at the ABC's Eugene Goossens Hall in Sydney, which was also broadcast live on ABC Classic FM's Jazztrack with Mal Stanley.

She also won the Canberra International Music Festival Young Composer Award (2009) with her version of 'Waltzing Matilda' written specifically for the world-class Finnish vocal group Rajaton.
In 2013 she was a finalist in the Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra Composition Contest (USA) with her piece 'Dig This Mallow'. 

Greenaway's music has been performed by the Australian Youth Orchestra, 2x ARIA award winning pianist Sally Whitwell, Brisbane-based jazz trio Trichotomy, the JazzGroove Mothership Orchestra (Syd), the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Composers Big Band, the Royal Military College Big Band, the National Capital Orchestra, amongst many others, and notably by community and school groups around the country. 

Greenaway's latest album, Aubade & Nocturne, is available digitally via ABC Classics (label).

Greenaway is passionate about the rich history of the piano and is enjoying learning how to play harpsichord and fortepiano when she has time off from her jazz and composition work.

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

The piece explores the mental anguish of returning soldiers and takes inspiration from Richard Aldington's poem Bombardment (particularly the metaphysical suggestion in the final stanza):

Four days the earth was rent and torn
By bursting steel,
The houses fell about us;
Three nights we dared not sleep,
Sweating, and listening for the imminent crash
Which meant our death.
The fourth night every man,
Nerve-tortured, racked to exhaustion,
Slept, muttering and twitching,
While the shells crashed overhead.
The fifth day there came a hush;
We left our holes
And looked above the wreckage of the earth
To where the white clouds moved in silent lines
Across the untroubled blue.

The piece opens with a fragile and exposed line intertwining the violin and clarinet, symbolising both comradery and the white clouds which move ‘in silent lines across the untroubled blue'. The setting is soon interrupted by a dark and troubled piano figure which echoes the memories of the destruction from the battlefield.

This material slowly erodes and becomes more disfigured and unsettled as the piece progresses. The climax, full of jarring rhythms and angular intervals (which are based on inversions and systematic increases or decreases in pitch based on the original melodic material) is expressive of the mental shock endured by those undertaking therapy for post traumatic stress disorder.

The piece concludes with a restating of the original theme, but this time includes a sparse piano accompaniment to add to the harmonic framework. Whilst this could be interpreted as a positive ending, it hints at the futility of war and the immense waste and suffering that comes from wars.

– Sally Greenaway