it kinda all starts here
Argo started out as a project between two composers. Composers are key to everything we do. Not only do they write the music performed, but they are the key collaborators in creating each unique experience, working with the other artists and even performing themselves. Supporting young Australian composers and creating opportunities for new and innovative work is central to Argo. In 2017, Argo commissioned six new works by a talented group of emerging Australian composers. Read on to learn more about each of them and their music.
artistic director, producer, co-founder
Connor D'Netto (b. 1994) is a composer of contemporary classical music, described as "the model contemporary Australian composer" by ABC Classic FM.
Throughout his works, Connor balances the quasi-neoclassical with post-minimal influences, combining them with contemporary performance practices, unique one-off concerts and performances, and the delicate incorporation of electronic music elements and production techniques. His music combines driving post-minimal rhythmic elements with heartfelt lyrical expression drawn from his extensive performance experience as a classically trained bass baritone, contrasted with textural devices that push the expectations of an instrument’s capabilities without confronting the audience. Connor’s music has been commissioned and performed across Australia and abroad, including commissions from ensembles such the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian String Quartet, the prolific New-York based new music organisation Bang On A Can, and performers such as Katie Noonan, Karin Schaupp and Claire Edwards.
In 2017, Connor was selected as a fellow of Bang On A Can. As part, his music was featured at Bang On A Can's Summer Music Festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts (MASS MoCA) in July, having travelled to the USA to take part in a three-week residency with the ensemble.
In 2015, Connor was named winner of Chamber Music Australia’s Australian New Works Award. His winning work, String Quartet No. 2 in E minor, became the set work for the 7th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition and received premieres by three internationally chosen finalist ensembles at the Melbourne Recital Centre. He has also been awarded a Brisbane Arts and Cultural Innovation Award 2017 for his contribution to the Arts, the Percy Brier Memorial Composition Prize 2016 for his Texture No. 1 for Orchestra, and the Donald Tugby Musicology Prize and Scholarship 2015 by the University of Queensland for exceptional contribution to the field of music research.
As a performer, Connor is a trained classical bass, having previously studied with Shaun Brown. Connor is also a talented photographer, videographer and visual-artist, creating and shooting not only material for his music, but also for a number of other local artists and musicians.
Currently Connor is based in London where is he studying his Masters of Music at the Royal College of Music. He is a Tait Trust Scholar at the Royal College of Music, and his studies are further supported with a Churchie Foundation Scholarship. Connor is also concurrently working on his PhD through the University of Queensland, where he completed a Bachelor of Music (Honours) graduating with First-Class Honours in 2016.
Ben Heim’s (1994 - ) compositional projects are at the forefront of contemporary ideas in art music. His music builds on the western art music tradition and utilises modern methods of performance and sound production to create a style which is both cutting edge and highly accessible to audiences. Compositions for acoustic instruments accompanied by electronics are a trademark of Heim’s style. In all his electronic-meets-acoustic compositions Heim’s focus is on maintaining the expressive capabilities of the performers through expanding the expressive capabilities of electronically produced sound. This is achieved through live performance and manipulation, as well as the use of expressive midi controllers and touchscreen devices. In all of his works Heim collaborates closely with performers and ensembles to push his compositions creatively and expressively beyond the simple score-based composer/performer relationship.
Upon moving to London at the end of 2016, Ben founded OUREYES Collective, a London based group focused on art-through-social-media and innovative performance of contemporary music. Ben is also an accomplished live electronic performer. He is most known for his solo electronic percussion performances in which he produces vast soundscapes that are expressively controlled by an electronic drum pad. Heim’s previous work has included two pieces for electronics and percussion ensemble, a commission for QYSWS in 2015, and a solo flute piece, for which he won the Percy Brier memorial prize in composition. He holds a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours from the University of Queensland and is currently studying at the Royal College of Music with a Soireé D'Or Scholarship.
Thomas Green has a reputation in Brisbane as a versatile composer whose focus is finding a musical home between many and varied streams, often seamlessly melding classical and contemporary idioms.
He is the recipient of various government grants, commissions and is a prize-winner in national composition competitions, including 1st place for the Adoph Spivakovsky Award in 2011, a score selected for the Australian String Quartet Composer’s forum in 2010, and the Percy Brier Memorial Prize (UQ) in 2009.
In 2017 he was awarded an Arts Projects grant by the Australia Council to fulfill a commission from the Queensland Music Festival to write a concerto for Manu Delago and the Queensland Youth Orchestra. Also in 2017 he is engaged by New Zealand’s Okareka Dance Company to collaborate on a new work (premiering in 2018).
In 2015 and 2016, he was commissioned to write 80 minutes of new music for Heather Swann’s Nervous, whose music was recorded and performed by Plexus (Melbourne) and Continuum Sax (Sydney) and produced by the composer. This music was exhibit at the Adelaide Biennial Of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia and at The National Gallery of Australia in September 2016. Also in that year he composed music and contributed sound design for 보인다 - I See You by Imaginary Theatre.
In 2015 he was commissioned by Diana Tolmie and the International Saxophone Congress to write the first movement of a saxophone concerto, which received its world premiere in Strasbourg. Diana Tolmie also premiered his piece Chalumeau Orbits in Assisi in 2013 as part of the International Clarinet Festival. In recent years he has also been commissioned by the Queensland Conservatorium Saxophone Ensemble, Collusion Music, Churchill Fellowship recipient Clint Allen, and his music appears on albums by each of these; the last has been used in advertising by Doctors Without Borders. His piece titled Shimmer for saxophonist Emma Di Marco was featured in her national tour of the same name.
Thomas Green has a strong focus on collaboration, both within and outside of Art Music circles. He worked with with Aria-winning Zulya Kamalova, arranging her songs for the Opera Queensland production of Snow White, premiering in partnership with the La Boite Theatre in 2016. In 2015 he arranged songs by Josh Pyke for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra which were performed in that year.
Thomas Green runs a home studio and has produced records for various local artists. He releases electronic music under the pseudonym Praxis Axis, and has a growing on-line following under this moniker.
The composer earned his PhD at the University of Queensland under supervisor Robert Davidson in 2014. He also lectures in music theory at the Queensland Conservatorium.
I’m an Australian music-maker, artist and organiser. I can often be found making sounds with the chamber group Nonsemble or nerding out with the math-rock band Mr. Maps. I may also be found hunched over a computer performing some rhythmic audiovisual experiment. Recently I got myself a PhD in Music Composition with the help of my supervisor at UQ, Rob Davidson. I also teach, write music for theatre, film and animation, and organise music events and releases. I produce solo work under the nom de plume Software of Seagulls, and pop music with my wife in a project we call The Artless Pursuit of Excellence.
My musical background is a mess, owing as much to noisy guitar rock as to art music technique. The music that emerges from that tends to float somewhere in between the world of contemporary classical music and vernacular styles like post-rock, math-rock, electronica and indie. I love rhythm, especially the way that a simple rhythmic process can lead to rich and complex patterns. Despite these nerdy compulsions toward complexity, I think music is a powerfully social medium, and I try not to get too caught up in the kind of esoteric finickery that would be lost on anyone but myself. I believe there is as much beauty to be found in a karaoke session with good friends (perhaps involving some Cat Stevens, and obviously “Hey Ya” at some point) as in the great works of the European canon.
The music of Perth composer Alex Turley has been described as “yearning...illustrative” (Classic Melbourne), “introverted” (The West Australian) and “unapologetically pretty” (Partial Durations). With a focus on atmospheric textures, vivid colours and slowly evolving gestures, Turley's works have been commissioned by musical artists across Australia and beyond.
Recent works by Turley have been performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestras, Voyces, Naya Chorale, Soundstream Collective, Perth Symphony Orchestra, Maverick Saxophone Quartet, and Grey Wing Ensemble. He has composed original scores for theatre and film featured in the Perth Fringe World Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Revel8 Film Festival. His music has been broadcast on ABC Classic FM, 3MBS (Melbourne) and RTRFM (Perth).
City of Ghosts (2015) was selected by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to be performed in the 2016 Metropolis New Music Festival, under the baton of leading American conductor and six time Grammy award winner Robert Spano. The work was commissioned with support from the Cybec Foundation. The recent Concerto for Saxophone (2015) was composed for friend and longtime collaborator David Gioia, and received its premiere late in 2015. With the support of a Young People and the Arts Grant from the DCA, the concerto is set to be recorded with a hand-picked professional ensemble and released independently later in 2016. Other recent awards include the Joondalup Arts in Focus Composition Grant for Ink (2013), and First Prize in the Voyces ‘Aspire’ Competition for Watercolour (2014).
Turley holds a degree in Composition and Music Technology with First Class Honours from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where he studied closely with Lachlan Skipworth and Lindsay Vickery. Other composition workshops he has been a part of include including the WASO EChO Composer Project, CYBEC 21st Century Australian Composer Program, Soundstream Emerging Composers Forum, Ku-Ring-Gai Philharmonic Composer Workshop, and Gondwana Choral Composer School.
Joshua Rivory is a Brisbane based composer, producer and performer working across multiple genres. After graduating from a Bachelor of Music (Composition) with Honours, production has been at the forefront of his musical career with one EP, ten singles released and four Eps currently in fruition across his many projects. Currently he is a founding member of Indie Rock band SIMON SIMON (Synthesizer), future Jazz/Electronica outfit Bonsai (Synthesizer), and heavy rock band Bin Chicken (Bass Guitar), as well as composing electronic, post-rock influenced contemporary classical pieces under the name RIVORY.
Taking part in the 2017 ARGO concert series marks a strong return to contemporary classical composition, with an EP and three more commissions due in the later months of the year. By fully embracing influences from Sigur Ros, Karnivool, Oceansize, Hiatus Kaiyote and Bryce Dessner, whilst indulging a love for thick synth textures, Rivory’s current compositions can only be described as electronica fuelled post-rock. His vast solo setup includes a Maschine sequencer/sampler, KORG Kronos 2 Workstation, KORG ms20, microKORG (as vocoder), and Alesis SamplePadPro, with real-time effects processing of acoustic instruments using a Steinberg UR824 Audio Interface and system synchronisation managed by a MOTU MIDI Express XT. A strong focus has also been placed on the visual aspects of performance with a custom lighting being made to synchronise with the live sets.
As a composer, Rivory has written commissions for large wind ensemble, piano trio, piano quartet, three electronic infused chamber ensembles resulting with two Percy Brier Awards (2013, 2014) and six concert appearances. As a producer, Rivory recorded and partially mixed Maja’s self-titled debut EP and recorded, mixed and mastered a total of ten singles between the projects Bonsai, SIMON SIMON and //OKRA// with four EPs currently in progress and a single due for release in March. As a performer, you can hear Rivory playing Cello, Piano or Synth (with occasional backup vocals) on Maja’s debut EP, SIMON SIMON’s and Bonsai’s entire discography, the film score for The Vulture, as well as the upcoming Maja EP (cello only) and the next single release from Brisbane’s post-rock legends Twin Haus.