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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Ross Edwards, 2013

Bridget Elliot

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 48.5 cm x 33.0 cm, image: 40.5 cm x 30.5 cm)

Ross Edwards (b. 1943), composer, became determined upon a life of composition as a child. He studied at the Universities of Adelaide and Sydney, with Peter Sculthorpe and Richard Meale, and in Adelaide and London with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Gaining his doctorate in music, he taught at the University of Sydney and the Sydney Conservatorium. In 1980 he became a freelance composer; he credits two Keating Fellowships in the 1990s with significant impact on his career. Seeking ‘to reconnect music with elemental forces and restore such qualities as ritual, spontaneity and the impulse to dance’ he has created a body of work ‘concerned with age-old mysteries surrounding humanity . . . at the same time deeply 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.’ His compositions include five symphonies, concertos, choral, chamber and vocal music, children’s music, film scores, a chamber opera and music for dance. His concert hall works including his Fourth Symphony, Star Chant; his Oboe Concerto Bird Spirit Dreaming; and The Heart of Night for shakuhachi and orchestra (composed especially for shakuhachi Grand Master Riley Lee and the Melbourne Symphony) sometimes require special lighting, movement, costume and visual accompaniment. Described in the Adelaide Advertiser as ‘arguably our most recognisable musical voice’, Edwards has seen his works performed around the world. His recent commissions include Sacred Kingfisher Psalms for The Song Company, Ars Nova Copenhagen and the Edinburgh Festival; a piano sonata for Bernadette Harvey; Full Moon Dances, a saxophone concerto for Amy Dickson, the Sydney Symphony and the Australian symphony orchestras; Five Senses, a song cycle to poems of Judith Wright; The Laughing Moon for the New Sydney Wind Quintet; Zodiac Dances, a ballet score for Stanton Welch and the Houston Ballet; and the string quartet Summer Dances, for the Hungarian Kelemen Kvartett commissioned by Kim Williams for Musica Viva Australia.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2013
To mark the 70th birthday of composer Ross Edwards (December 23, 2013)

Accession number: 2013.70

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Bridget Elliot (age 55 in 2013)

Ross Edwards (age 70 in 2013)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.