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Gondwana Composers

  • Lyn Williams AM

    Artistic Director & Founder

  • Sally Whitwell

    Composer and Pianist

  • Michael Atherton


  • Ross Edwards


  • Alice Chance


  • Joseph Twist


  • Ella Macens


  • Paul Stanhope

    Conductor, Composer

  • Paul Jarman


  • Luke Byrne

    Conductor, Composer

Lyn Williams AM

Artistic Director & Founder

Lyn Williams is widely regarded as one of the finest conductors of choirs around the world. For over 30 years, Lyn has harnessed the incredible power of young voices through her world-renowned ensembles: the Sydney Children’s Choir, Gondwana Voices, the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir and Marliya. Her choirs have appeared with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors and at festivals including the BBC Proms and Polyfollia.  

Lyn has commissioned over 200 works from composers across Australia and around the world and her ability to forge innovative and meaningful collaborations is widely recognised. She continues to foster strong relationships with First Nations artists across Australia, bringing together cultural custodians and composers to create new works which preserve and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island languages and cultures. Lyn enjoys a long-standing collaboration with singer-songwriter Felix Riebl of the Cat Empire and the singers of Marliya, presenting the critically-acclaimed show Spinifex Gum, which has featured at almost every Australian arts festival since its premiere at the Adelaide Festival in 2018.  

In 2017, Lyn received the Australia Council for the Arts’ Don Banks Music Award for outstanding and sustained contribution to music in Australia, in recognition of her lifework as founder and director of Gondwana Choirs. 

Sally Whitwell

Composer and Pianist

Pianist and Composer Sally Whitwell maintains a busy and eclectic musical existence from her base in Sydney.  

As a solo performer, she has recorded five albums to date with ABC Classic, garnering between them 8 ARIA nominations and 3 wins. She is known particularly for her interpretations of the piano works of American minimalist Philip Glass, her debut album Mad Rush leading to invitations to premiere Glass’s Etudes for Solo Piano at Perth International Arts Festival, Center for the Art of Performance UCLA, and at Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music. In a five star review of her recording of Glass’s Etudes in Limelight Magazine, Sally is described as “one of Australia’s finest solo performers”. 

Sally has composed for many vocal ensembles including Adelaide Chamber Singers (2020 Composer in Residence), The Consort of Melbourne, The Australian Voices, Divisi Chamber Singers, The House That Dan Built, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Moorambilla Voices, Brisbane Birralee, BachChor Salzburg and Juice Vocal (London). She has also created instrumental works for Phoenix Central Park, Ensemble Offspring, Acacia Quartet, Plexus Ensemble, Homophonic, Emily Granger (harp) and Alicia Crossley (recorders). A new work ‘Starwalker’ commissioned by guitarist Matt Withers will be released on ABC Classic in late 2022. 

Sally’s newest recording is a vocal chamber music work, an LGBTQIA+ pride-flag themed song cycle Spectrum, released by Divisi Chamber Singers. She is currently working on a short film comedy musical Sparky about a woman plumber, and also a new setting of the poetry of Gwen Harwood for Katie Noonan and the Australian Vocal Ensemble. 

Michael Atherton


Following postgraduate research in literature at the University of NSW (BA Hons, MA Hons), Michael studied music at the University of Sydney and the University of New England, where he was attracted to ethnomusicology.

He researched cultural history at UTS Sydney (PhD). He played early music in the Renaissance Players (1974-1980); joined Rivendell as a music therapist (1978-80) in the team of Professor Marie Bashir; pioneered cross-cultural music in Sirocco (1980-6); and directed his own ensemble, Southern Crossings (1986-93). He performed overseas for Musica Viva and appeared at major festivals prior to his appointment in 1993 as the Foundation Chair of Music at UWS, where he led the development of teaching and research with a focus on a range of Australian expressions in our time.

Michael is considered an expert in musical instruments and sound making objects, especially those of Australia and the Asia-Pacific. He is also composer, performer and researcher with broad experience in music for the concert hall, film, television and radio. Michael has made numerous CD recordings, documentary film scores and television themes, including the station music for TVS. In 2008 he was a featured composer in the Aurora Festival, with five world premières.

He is an elected fellow (FRSA) of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. His awards include a Centenary Medal (2003) for service to the community, and a Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence (2008) in research training and supervision. In 2009 he co-edited Music of the Spirit: Asian-Pacific Music Identities. Michael is also a member of SynC, an electroacoustic duo with Garth Paine. Performance highlights include: Aurora Festival 2008; New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) opening concert, New York, June 2007; and NIME/Agora Resonances, Paris, 2006. Michael’s most recent book publication is Musical Instruments and Sound Producing Instruments of Oceania (2010). In 2012, he was a guest artistic director at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre, composing music for public events, including a spectacle for motorbikes, drum kits, synthesizers, brass, and voices.

He retired from the University of Western Sydney at the end of 2012 and was honoured with the title, Emeritus Professor, for his distinguished contribution to teaching and research in the field of music and service to the University over many years. Michael’s book Australian Made, Australian Played was re-released in 2014 by Vivid/Fontaine as an e-book. And he recently completed a commission for Gondwana Choirs – a choral opera entitled, Walking in Footsteps.


The Mahogany Ship
Songs for Imberombera
Kalliopeia Sopha

Ross Edwards


One of Australia’s best known and most performed composers, Ross Edwards has created a distinctive sound world based on deep ecology and awareness of the need to reconnect music with elemental forces and restore its traditional association with ritual. His music, universal in that it is concerned with age-old mysteries surrounding humanity, is at the same time connected to its roots in Australia, whose cultural diversity it celebrates, and from whose natural environment it draws inspiration, especially birdsong and the mysterious patterns and drones of insects. As a composer living and working on the Pacific Rim, he is conscious of the exciting potential of this vast region.

Edwards has composed prolifically in most musical genres.

Works for the concert hall sometimes require special lighting, movement, costume and visual accompaniment – notably his Fourth Symphony, Star Chant, his oboe concerto Bird Spirit Dreaming and his saxophone concerto Full Moon Dances. His Dawn Mantras greeted the new millennium in an international telecast from the sails of the Sydney Opera House. Recently completed works include Frog and Star Cycle, a double concerto for saxophonist Amy Dickson, percussionist Colin Currie, and the Sydney Symphony, Zodiac for the Houston Ballet, Entwinings, for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bright Birds and Sorrows, a quintet for Amy Dickson and the (British) Elias String Quartet, Dances of Life and Death for the Sydney Conservatorium Wind Symphony, and a Piano Quartet for the Australia Piano Quartet.

Ross Edwards’ scores are available worldwide through the Australian Music Centre.


Dawn Canticle
Dawn Mantras
Symphony No. 5: Promised Land

Alice Chance


Works by Alice Chance are becoming well-known in Australia and beyond. Ensembles which have commissioned or premiered her work include The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, The Song Company, Musica Viva for the Enigma String Quartet, Sydney Conservatorium Early Music Ensemble, The Australia Piano Quartet, The Leichhardt Espresso Chorus, The Birralee Blokes,The Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellowship, Adelaide Chamber Singers, Luminscence Chamber Singers, The Australian Boys Choir, The Sydney Children’s Choir, The Australian Youth Choir and Sydney Youth Orchestras.

Alice has completed composition residencies in India and the USA, and worked as composer in residence with the Moorambilla Festival from 2013-15. This work is featured in the 2014 ABC documentary Outback Choir and in the 2015 film Wide Open Sky. In 2016, Alice was composer in residence for Sydney Children’s Choir and an associate artist with Barangaroo NSW, creating several new works including a sound installation. Alice has completed honours in Composition with teacher Paul Stanhope at Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she was awarded the 2012 Ignaz Friedman Memorial Prize for academic merit in Composition. Alice is the vocal arranger for Fangirls, a new musical by Yve Blake quickly building hype. Alice music directed showcases at the Women of the World Festival in London, UK and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2018.


Barangaroo and Bennelong *
Eye of the Soundstorm
Millers Point Mob
Nya Wali Banga
The Hungry Mile
The Shakespeare Room
Words for Wine

Joseph Twist


Born in Australia and now living in the United States, Joe Twist is one of the most ‘in demand’ composer/arranger/orchestrators in Australia and abroad. Straddling both film music and concert music arenas, his music crosses genres ranging ancient vocal music, opera, contemporary orchestral music, jazz, musical theatre and cabaret. Twist  has created music for the likes of Missy Higgins, Guy Sebastian, Kate Miller-Heidke, DJ Armand Van Helden, The Idea of North, Chanticleer, Voces8 and The Wiggles, as well as many movies and TV shows. Credits include Dream Gardens (ABC TV), The Wiggles Meet The Orchestra (ABC TV), CLINTON, The Musical (New York Music Theater Festival) and many Hollywood studio films including The Brookyln Banker (2016), The War With Grandpa (2018), plus Twist’s own album Dancing With Somebody.

Twist has received wide acclaim for his music for film and television, and his concert works are performed frequently by many professional ensembles around the world, including the Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Victoria, The Hollywood Scoring Orchestra, Victorian Opera, Gondwana Voices, The Song Company, The Australian Voices, Adelaide Chamber Singers, the Southern Cross Soloists, JACK Quartet, Chanticleer, The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and many others.  Twist has worked extensively as an arranger and orchestrator for many renowned international artists and ensembles, including singer/songwriters Guy Sebastian, Missy Higgins, Josh Pyke, Megan Washington and Kate Miller-Heideke, bands like Eskimo Joe and The Wiggles, jazz and cabaret artists like Sally Cameron, The Idea of North and Lady Sings it Better, and opera singers David Hobson and Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Twist also currently works as an orchestrator for major Hollywood studio films in Los Angeles with Steven Juliani Music.

Twist has received numerous awards, including the ASCAP Jimmy Van Heusen Award 2013, the Chanticleer International Composition Competition, and first place in the 15th International Choral Composition Competition 2011. He is the recipient of two of Australia’s most prestigious Awards for screen music composers; the APRA Professional Development Award (Film and TV Category) and the Brian May Scholarship. Twist holds four tertiary degrees in music composition including doctorate and masters degrees from the University of Queensland, the Australian Film Television and Radio School, and New York University. Twist has participated in several prestigious film scoring programs around the United States, such as NYU ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop in New York and the ASCAP Film and TV Workshop with Richard Bellis in Los Angeles.


Carols Medley
I don’t want to live on the moon
On the Night Train
La-La Land
Lux Aeterna
Rain Dream
Rocket Ship Countdown
Space Kangaroo
Wolcum Yole

Ella Macens


Ella Macens is one of four female composers who participated in the inaugural National Women Composers’ Development Program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Over the course of the two-year program, Ella worked with The Goldner String Quartet, The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and percussionist Claire Edwardes, as well as a variety of other soloists and ensembles.

Ella has been composer in residence with the Sydney Youth Orchestra and Trinity Grammar School, and has received both national and international commissions for a variety of ensembles. Her portfolio of chamber, orchestral, choral and solo works is performed in both Australia and Europe and her compositional style is heavily influenced by both classical and popular music genres.

As a solo singer-songwriter, Ella composes music in a popular music style for piano, voice and ukulele. She is also a part of a duo with Melbourne-based musician Ivars Štubis, and together they celebrate their shared Latvian background by arranging and performing traditional Latvian folk songs alongside their original acoustic works. Ella composes music for film, television and multimedia, and is currently working on a score for a new game, set to be released in 2017.

Ella writes:

In January 2017, I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the Gondwana National Choral School composer program. Over the course of the two-week period, we, the composers, had the invaluable opportunity to work with the Gondwana choristers under the guidance of composer Paul Stanhope, and with … the Song Company under the guidance of their incredible artistic director Antony Pitts.

These were two of the most challenging, inspirational, sleep-deprived, yet motivating weeks of my life, and I still can’t quite comprehend the path my music has taken since my time at Gondwana.

Ella was the 2017-18 SCC Composer in Residence.

Paul Stanhope

Conductor, Composer

A Sydney-based composer and conductor, Paul Stanhope is a leading figure in his generation. He has had prominent performances of his works in the UK, Europe, Asia as well as North and South America. After studies with Peter Sculthorpe, Paul studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London in 2000.

Paul has composed for all combinations of vocal and instrumental forces including a number of major works in recent years for large forces such as Jandamarra: Sing for the Country a dramatic cantata based on the life of the Western Australian indigenous resistance hero, premiered by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra together with Gondwana Choirs and members of the Bunuba nation in 2014.

Paul is a Senior Lecturer in composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, as well as director of Choral Programs. He was Musical Director of the Sydney Chamber Choir from 2006-2015 and is also the Artistic Chair of the Australia Ensemble @UNSW.


Frosty the snowman: an inconvenient truth
Ground Zero
Jandamarra: Sing for the Country (excerpt)
Lament to St. Cecilia
Lost the Plot
The Acrobat
The Flying Dream

Paul Jarman


Paul Jarman is a composer, performer, conductor and educator. He has written over 200 commissioned works, school and town anthems, and he publishes his music worldwide. Paul works throughout Australia, Europe, Asia, America and the Pacific with choirs, theatre and dance ensembles, and was a member of Australia’s pioneering world music group Sirocco, since 1996. He has performed on a variety of Australian films and composed the music for award-winning adventure films including ‘Ocean to Sky’, about Sir Edmund Hillary.

Paul has composed music for the Rugby World Cup, Australia Day, Q150 Songbridge, the Centenary of Federations, and he was the only composer in the Southern Hemisphere commissioned by Oxford University Press for the 400th Anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, 2016. Paul’s piece for the 40th Anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr in 2008 was performed for President Barack Obama in the White House.


Ancient City
Australia Day Suite
Heritage in Song
The Will to Climb
Towards Infinity
Turn on the open sea
(includes Shackleton, Sea of Berries,
Volta do ma Largo)

Luke Byrne

Conductor, Composer

Luke Byrne is a Sydney-based composer, musical director and pianist. Recent commissions include EarthriseCapricorn and Desert Sea for Sydney Philharmonia, Storm Bird, Buruwan Elegy and Birinyi for Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Where Sails Once Flewfor Adelaide Chamber Singers. Luke arranged the national anthems for the 2015 Netball World Cup and in 2012 was composer-in-residence for Sydney Children’s Choir.

In 2018, Luke’s musical Between the Sea and Sky was selected for the New York Musical Festival where it won awards including Best Musical and Outstanding Music.

Luke is also a musical director in theatre, his credits include The Harp in the South, Muriel’s Wedding and Chimerica (Sydney Theatre Company), The Events for Sydney Festival/Belvoir/Malthouse, Hamlet (Belvoir), The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (Belvoir/Sydney Festival), Big Fish (Hayes Theatre), and The World’s Wife (Melbourne Theatre Company).


Acknowledgement of Country
Buruwan Elegy
Desert Sea
Storm Bird
Travelling Companion
The Number One Train
Vision of the Future
Wise Men Three