Queensland Conservatorium composition alumni are taking centre stage thanks to a host of new industry mentoring projects.

Recent Honours graduate Frankie Dyson Reilly is one of five female Australian composers selected for a national mentoring opportunity.

Fellow alumnus Ian Whitney has been selected for the Layton Emerging Composer Fellowship, during which he will write music for the Australia Ensemble and receive mentoring.

Putting female composers centre stage

Frankie said she was thrilled to win a spot in The Summers Night Mentoring Project, which was established to help female and non-binary composers create new work and improve gender diversity in a traditionally male-dominated field.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity (which) will open up so many new networks for me,” she said.

“These are musicians I never thought I’d meet, let alone get a chance to learn from and work with.”

Frankie said it was important to create pathways for female composers.

“It can feel daunting to forge a career as a female composer,” she said.

“There is still a gender imbalance, and it can still be difficult for women to get their music out there.

“Initiatives like Summer Nights help achieve a level playing field.”

Pushing musical boundaries

During her Honours studies, Frankie developed a unique system of music notation based on colour. The young composer is keen to keep pushing the boundaries of contemporary music.

“As part of the Summer Nights commission, I’m planning on applying the findings of my Honours research, and overlaying colour to the score to convey dynamics and tone colour,” she said.

“Doing Honours helped me find my musical voice.

“It gave me the confidence to experiment and find new ways of making music.”

A helping hand

Queensland Conservatorium Head of Percussion Professor Vanessa Tomlinson is one of eight composers on the Summer Nights mentoring team.

“It is fantastic to see young female composers like Frankie getting the opportunity to establish a national profile,” she said.

“We have to be mindful of how we program music and make space for female voices.

“Diversity always brings different perspectives, and we need everyone present at the table.”

The Summer Nights mentoring program is run by Tura New Music, a not-for-profit music organisation based in Perth and founded in 1987.

A platform for emerging composers

Ian Whitney’s composition fellowship will provide mentoring sessions and the chance to write new music for renowned chamber group, the Australia Ensemble.

“I am thrilled to be selected for the Layton Emerging Composer Fellowship,” he said.

“It is immensely exciting, and humbling, to know that I will soon be writing for some of Australia’s best chamber musicians.

“These opportunities to develop craft and build confidence are rare and valuable… it promises to be an amazing and enriching experience.”

Ian studied composition at the Queensland Conservatorium with Gerard Brophy and Stephen Leek, and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in 2003.

He was awarded the inaugural Australian Youth Orchestra/National Institute of Dramatic Art Fellowship for theatre music while he was a student.

He was also selected for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Composers’ School and the Victorian Opera Composer Development Program. His work has been performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Victorian Opera.