Meet the 2016 young composers

Aged 13 to 21, the young composers have workshopped and recorded their compositions. Find out what inspired them and have a listen to their compositions.


Xiao-Xiao Kingham [Age 16, VIC]
Composition: Melbourne Flourish
Currently studying at Mac.Robertson Girls High School

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Hi, I’m Xiao-Xiao Kingham, 16 years old and live in Victoria. From the age of 3 I began playing piano, at 6 I started on violin, 8 on electric organ and two years ago I started bassoon. In regards to composition, I started composing mainly piano when I was 6, to the point where I performed with two of my compositions in Jakarta and Bangkok, as part of the Asian Pacific Junior Original Concert in 2010 and 2011. When I was 12 I started exploring a wider range of instrumentation, developing into string quartets and eventually orchestral works.

Composition Inspiration: The title of Melbourne Flourish is part homage to Melbourne and part play on words. There are various definitions of flourish, but my key focus on the word is ‘to thrive in growth’. Melbourne is a city full of a mixture of everything, sports, arts, people, cultures, etc, but in my piece I mostly focused on its combination of city and bush. The view from my backyard, especially, highlights this, with parkland as far as the eye can see with skyscrapers towering in the distance. Through these differences, Melbourne grows, thrives and, well, flourishes, in its own unique way. I experience this personally every day as I have to travel to Melbourne’s centre to reach my school each day. Another definition of flourish I used is ‘to add embellishments in writing’. This I adhered to the technical aspects of my piece, with plenty trills, ornaments and ‘flicks’ through various instruments, along with its wide range and frequent jumps, making it light and flowing.  Finally, flourish also actually means fanfare. To be honest, I wasn’t even really aware of this when I composed it.

There are two main sources that influenced my piece. First, is the opening of Leonard Bernstein’s operetta, Candide. When I first developed this piece, I couldn’t get its opening motif out of my head and knew I had to incorporate it somehow into my piece, especially as it would prove affective in grasping the attention of its listeners – essential in a fanfare. However, I did feel as if the music was heavier and busy than I felt best suited this piece, which is why I then incorporated my second influence, Ross Edwards.

As a Melbourne based piece, this iconic Australian composer well known for his pieces specifically addressing this county’s ‘elements’ along with Peter Sculthorpe, seemed essential in composing. Specifically, Ross Edwards’ Pipyarum Mantra with its jagged rhythms, lightness, and playful aspects inspired me, especially in the second part of my piece.

Hear the final orchestral version recorded by the AYO.

Hear the original score Xiao-Xiao submitted.


James Littlewood [Age 21, VIC]
Composition: Metacognition
Currently studying at Monash University

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Hi my name is James Littlewood and I am currently studying classical Bass Trombone at Monash University. I began playing trombone when I was 10 years of age. I switched to bass trombone during high school and started to find more inspiration in my music studies. I started to study theory and began composing short pieces and fragments as a hobby, which I’ve continued to do since.

Composition inspiration: My piece is called Metacognition, a word meaning ‘thinking about thinking’. Metacognition is the name for the way in which we consider how we learn best, analyse and evaluate things in everyday life. It’s definitely a very abstract idea.  I wanted to write a piece that not only depicts the way we think and develop ideas, but also something that reflects the abstract nature of metacoginition. The piece is made up of a number of fragments which are varied in different ways throughout. The first fragment is initially heard in the bras
s, and is probably the most fanfare-like part of the piece. It’s three notes that move in perfect 5ths and represents a single thought. The thought is developed harmonically and rhythmically and moves through the circle of fifths, and uses the whole orchestra. Another idea of mine was to create a kind of mechanical image of the mind, and this can be heard not only in the rhythmic development of the ‘thought’ theme, but also in two other fragments. The first is a simple semiquaver drone in the marimba which ticks away in the background, and the second is the big orchestral hits on C. I love the sound of orchestral hits used in electronic music, and the very exact and heavily produced nature of this genre was also a source of inspiration. Over the last year I’ve been discovering a love for post-minimalist music, and one of my favourite composers at the moment is David Lang. One of the things I love about the style is how simple musical ideas are developed to create complex and challenging rhythms and textures. The piece I’m about to show you is a great example of how Lang’s minimalist techniques have influenced me in creating the fanfare. It’s called Cheating, Lying, Stealing, I will play just a short extract from the beginning. What I want you to listen out for is how the first phrase is developed. You’ll hear an E minor arpeggio with quite a straight forward rhythm at first, that is gradually varied by stretching and compressing the rhythm. Also new layers are added in creating another level of complexity. I also like this piece and Lang’s music because he is able to stir a lot of feeling and emotion throughout. The piece is intense and heavy, yet at the same time provides listeners with a chance to empathise with Lang and his vulnerability.

Hear the final orchestral version recorded by the AYO.

Hear the original score James submitted.


Marcus Kha [Age 14, SA]
Composition: Fanfare in Eb
Currently studying at Pembroke School

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My name is Marcus Kha, I am 15 years old and I am in year 11 at Pembroke School in Adelaide. I have been learning the piano since I was 5 and am now aiming for my AMEB Associate in Music. My current piano teacher is Marianna Grynchuk. I have also been learning the classical guitar with Andras Tuske since I was 8, and am going to do the AMEB Licentiate of Music this year. As well as solo playing, I enjoy playing in ensembles – at

school I play piano in two chamber music groups and a guitar ensemble; outside of school I am a member of the South Australian Youth Guitar Ensemble. I have won prizes in both solo and ensemble categories in the Adelaide Eisteddfod competitions. This year I came 1st in 17 years and under guitar solo and 2nd in open age guitar solo. I became interested in composing when I did a unit on it in year 8 music class. Since then I have enjoyed writing many of my own music and have been improving my composition skills. In 2015, I won 1st and 2nd prizes for my compositions in ASME’s Young Composers Awards.

Composition inspiration: My fanfare began as a very simple tune originally for solo piano, consisting of a repetitive chromatic melody and accompaniment in the bass. However, it was rather catchy and a source of amusement for my friends, especially when I played it again a semitone higher and somewhat faster. Eventually, when I decided to enter the fanfare competition, I expanded the tune for an orchestra and added a new B section. I kept the original chromatic melody in the first violins and the bass in the bassoon and brass, and have also managed to ensure that the remaining instruments all have something to do. After writing the fanfare I also arranged it for clarinet trio – clarinet, cello and piano. This is one of my favourite forms of instrumentation, and one of my school chamber music groups is indeed a clarinet trio – the Incomplete Octet, as we are called. Once again I extended the piece, adding new sections. A piece that is meaningful to me is the second movement of Beethoven’s piano sonata number 24. Beethoven wrote it in 1809, which was not long after a turning point in his life. The French had just invaded his country and he had also begun going deaf. He decided that he no longer wanted to be like Mozart or Haydn and announced that he was going to ‘take a new path.’ From then on his music was highly revolutionary and began the transition to the Romantic Era. This is very clear in this piece, with its chromaticism, weird key signatures and drastic fluctuations in character. I found it amusing but also very clever and ahead of its time. I hope to someday write something like it.

Hear the final orchestral version recorded by the AYO.

Hear the original score Marcus submitted.


Callum O’Reilly [Age 19, WA]
Composition: Curiosity Fanfare!
Currently studying at Western Australian Academy Of Performing Arts

Fanfare0716-7co350wHi my name is Callum I am 19 and studying composition the WAAPA in Perth. I have had a keen interest in music and creating compositions from an early age. I started playing jazz and classical drums in the concert band and guitar. I started writing electronic music but decided it wasn’t for me. I really enjoyed the compositions we performed in the concert band and started to listen more widely to these works and composers such as Alfred Reed, Voltz, Bernstein, Stravinsky, Copland, and Gershwin. I have also been influence by John William and the film music he wrote for Stars Wars. My composition, Curiosity Fanfare is split into 3 sections – curiosity written in a fun way; then written in mystery and wonder and results in curiosity driven by pride.

Hear the final orchestral version recorded by the AYO.

Hear Callum’s original composition.


Renee Crump [Age 13, VIC]
Composition: Fanfare
Currently studying at Camberwell High School

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My name is Renee Crump. I’m 13 from Melbourne. I’m in year 7 at Camberwell High School. I have 2 younger siblings, a sister called Samantha and a brother called William. Sam’s in Grade 5 and Will’s in Grade 4. Sam plays the French Horn and Will plays the drums. My mum is a music teacher and a French Horn player, she teaches theory, French Horn, brass at some of the schools that she teaches at, and also takes some bands at the schools she works at. My dad works at a guitar factory in Box Hill and is a drum player in a band called Bad Elf.

I started playing the piano at about the age of 3 and a half and I still play now. I have done every AMEB piano exam up to grade 5 exams on piano last year, but I won’t be doing a piano exam this year. I started trombone about 5 years ago when I broke my wrist, and I’ve been lots of things since. Later in the year I will be doing my AMEB grade 6 trombone exam. At school I am playing percussion in the wind ensemble and that is a bit of a new experience for me because I have never learnt percussion ever and now I am playing it in the highest concert band at school.

Composition inspiration:  The inspiration for the piece I wrote is from a piece I played in MYSWB called Hounds of Spring by Alfred Reed. We played this piece at one of the first concerts of the year. At the start of the piece there is a fanfare type of thing, and then it goes off into whatever the rest of the piece does. This was the first piece that made me realise that I am a decent musician and that I am talented and that all the years of practice that I’ve done has payed off.

A Meaningful piece to me: A meaningful piece to me is Tchaikovsky 5th symphony because it was my first proper orchestral piece that I’ve ever played. I played this in the Bishop Orchestra at the Victorian State Music Camp. In this piece I had to read tenor clef (which I don’t really read much of) so that was a challenge for me. The experience of playing a proper orchestral piece of work.

Hear the final orchestral version recorded by the AYO.

Hear the original score Renee submitted.


Oscar Gill [Age 13, NSW]
Composition: The Horses’ Fanfare
Currently studying at Bega High School

Fanfare0716-3og350My musical life began when I was 5, when I found I had a liking for the piano. When I was in year 1, I took piano lessons for a year, and came across a computer program called Sibelius. I have been writing my own compositions on Sibelius ever since. When I was in year 3, I joined a woodwind and brass instrumental program, run by my mum where I played the clarinet. In that year, I also joined a fairly large annual music camp, where I took a liking for singing. I played the clarinet for about 2 years, until my mum acquired a second-hand bass clarinet. I have recently joined another camp, Senior State Music Camp. I also play guitar, recorder and have taught myself a little bit of drums.

Composition inspiration: Over the last few years, I have really enjoyed listening to
lots of different classical and modern tunes. I have had fun creating my own and this competition gave me an urge to create my own fanfare. For this fanfare, I was mostly inspired by Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Other pieces that have inspired me over the last few years include: Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee and Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield.

Hear the final orchestral version recorded by the AYO.

Hear the original score Oscar submitted.


Chrysoulla Markoulli [Age 19, NSW]
Composition: The Epiphany
Currently studying at University of New South Wales

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My name is Chrysoulla Markoulli and I am of Greek-Cypriot heritage, born and raised in Sydney. I am 19 years of age, currently studying a music/ bachelor of education. My musical journey began when I started playing the piano at the age of eight. When practicing, I would often take breaks to improvise on the piano. I think it was improvisation, that first ignited my desire to create music as an expression of my feelings and thoughts. During high school, music became the subject I enjoyed most. In listening to music more broadly, I

developed a fondness for Greek music and the film music of the French composer Yann Tiersen. When it came to choosing what I wanted to study at university, it was clear that music was the pathway I wanted to follow. I also decided to pick up the bouzouki, to further my instrumental repertoire. I am now in my second year of study at university, specialising in composition, with the ultimate dream of becoming a film composer.

Composition inspiration: I was introduced to the fanfare competition by my mentor and music teacher Henrique Dib. The prospect of having a composition of mine played in the iconic Opera House, the musical centre of Sydney, by a full orchestra seemed like a dream. So, I decided to give it a shot. Having little previous exposure to fanfares, I began my creative process by listening to other Fanfares. Over a few weeks, I sat at the piano, barely coming up with ideas that worked, struggling to write the first few notes of my fanfare. Then finally, after much fumbling around the keys, one day a burst of ideas came to me, hence the name of my fanfare, The Epiphany. In writing this composition I have brought my passion for film music into every note on the page. I often find myself lost in the film music of composers and I would have to say that they are my source of inspiration.

I have written my fanfare in the time signature of 5/8, using a 3, 2 grouping. This was inspired by Oi Xartaetoi (The Kites), composed by the greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis. This work was the first to really draw my attention to the 5/8 feel with its very clear 3, 2 grouping. In wanted my fanfare to incorporate elements of unexpectedness and excitement like in Alan Silvestri’s Back to the Future. The dominant bass drum and timpani sections in Alan Silvestri’s The Mummy, Night in the Museum and Van Helsing, inspired me to incorporate a bass drum and timpani section. My decision to use tubular bells in my fanfare was inspired by Alan Silvestri’s use of tubular bells Van Helsing. I also wanted to incorporate warm, smooth string lines, as I was inspired by the rich string lines in Alan Silvestri’s The Mummy. Once ideas come you tend to go through a long frustrating process of experimenting, trial and error, but at the same time by overcoming a set of challenges, the creative process is also enjoyable, particularly when all your ideas start to come together to shape the final product. The Epiphany is a representation of the creative process and the individuality of each and every creator and also has a personal meaning behind it, in that I have come to the realisation of what I want to pursue as a musician; and to become a film composer. In listening to my fanfare, I hope that you will be taken on a journey through my creative thought process.

Hear the final orchestral version recorded by the AYO.

Hear the original score Chrysoulla submitted.


Oliver Beard [Age 18, NSW]
Composition: Fanfare for Sydney

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Hello everyone my name is Oliver Beard. I was born in Manchester, England and relocated to Sydney in 2009. My interest in music began at a young age with music lessons both at school and away from. I started acting and playing the guitar at age 10 and went on to attended the McDonald College of Performing Arts, majoring in Musical Theatre. At 13 I began learning the Piano and almost straight after started to explore composition, writing pieces for piano and string quartet. Over the next few years I learnt as much as I could about composition from books and the Internet. I was then (in my final year of high school) lucky enough to be awarded with a scholarship for Creative Excellence in Composition, and be nominated for the 2015 HSC Encore showcase. Also in 2015 I began to take private lessons in composition with Henrique Dib, and continue to do so now.

Composition inspiration: I started to write my fanfare a soon as I learned of the competition. I wrote the first ten seconds very quickly, knowing that I wanted a rushing and exciting intro using a suspended chord to build up tension. I had some trouble deciding what direction to go in next and ended up leaving myself very little time to write the rest of the piece. With the closing date getting ever nearer I sat down one weekend and just wrote until I had something I liked.

Hear the final orchestral version recorded by the AYO.

Hear the original score Oliver submitted.

November 4, 2016
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