Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University staff, students, alumni and community will come together on stage on 20 March to celebrate the life of renowned composer John Gilfedder.

John spent 25 years lecturing at the QCGU and had seven decades of international acclaim.

The performance will include Converzione Pastoralefor saxophone quartet; Gleams in Goldfor brass ensemble; Celtic Variationsfor solo clarinet; Transparencies in Violetfor viola and string orchestra; String Quartet No.4; and Orbits About a Themefor solo piano.

A pioneer and true artist

Described as a “pioneer and true artist”, John Francis Gilfedder was born 27 January 1925 in Melbourne, Australia, and died 20 January 2015, just shy of his 90th birthday.

A father of ten with his wife Jeanette, John initially studied medicine, before he decided to pursue music.

He began composing in 1948, studying composition with Benjamin Frankel and Raymond Jones in England, and undertook his music and education studies at the University of Melbourne, before becoming a school teacher and university lecturer.

John was appointed as a senior lecturer in the history of music and the arts at the Queensland Conservatorium in 1970, where he involved students in innovative workshops in contemporary music styles while also mentoring young composers.

He was the Queensland President of the International Society for Contemporary Music between 1975 and 1977 and received numerous commissions from the likes of Queensland Youth Orchestra, Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra, Southern Cross Soloists, Adelaide Festival of the Arts and the International Society for Music Education.

John’s compositional journey extended from modal linear works to conceptualise a music that he described as simultaneously “journey” and “now-time” with both linear growth and circular sound-states.

Remarkable vigour and creative vision

Fellow composer and educator John Stefulj, in curating the event, draws upon several commonly-agreed observations about John’s work, with these comments:

“John showed remarkable vigour in his creative vision, with such complex contrasts often reflected in the movement titles.”

“The harmonic style for much of John’s creations is neither atonal nor traditionally tonal, instead using a more ambiguous and faintly modal approach, but later compositions sometimes contain many contemporary stylistic facets, occasionally becoming aggressively atonal.”

“John’s music intends to evoke spiritual atmospheres such as the Creator and celebrate objective realities such as Australia, symbolism and colour, and some of his works display a concern for concepts such as time.”

“John has been an inspirational and legendary figure as composer and teacher for several generations at Queensland Conservatorium.”

“Many still speak of him with great warmth and recall with much affection the love and wonder of music that he instilled in them, not to mention the appreciation of spiritual matters beyond music itself.”

A represented composer with the Australian Music Centre, John’s creative work is now being made accessible in a reliable and definitive edition by Willowmavin Music.

John Gilfedder: A Retrospective

7.30pm, Friday 20 March.
Queensland Conservatorium Theatre, 140 Grey Street, South Bank.
Tickets via qtix.