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Richard Vella

School: CBC St Kilda

Year: 1967-72

Genre: Music - Composition / Conducting / Opera

Born in Melbourne, 1954, Vella’s diverse output includes works in many musical genres – for orchestra, large ensemble, choir, film, chamber music, burlesque cabaret, music theatre, site-specific performances, and popular music genres. Vella was founding artistic director of Calculated Risks Opera Productions. Calculated Risks has premiered three of his major works, Tales of Love (1991/2002), The Last Supper (1993) and Bodysongs: the Fatman Tour (1998). These works have toured nationally and internationally in various formats. Publications discussing his performance work are Arias: Recent Australian Music Theatre (Redhouse Editions, 1997) and The Oxford Dictionary of Australian Music (Bebbington Warren (Ed), Oxford University Press, 1998). Since 2002 Vella has been Adjunct Professor in Music and Sound in the Faculty of Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology supervising PhD candidates and conducting research. He has been invited to be Visiting and Consulting Professor of Music to many institutions in the areas of research and undergraduate curriculum development. Between 1992 and 1996 Vella devised and implemented an interdisciplinary postgraduate and undergraduate music program within the School of Mathematics, Physics, Computing and Electronics at Macquarie University. From 1989 to 2001, Richard was director and commissioning editor for music with Currency Press, Sydney. In this capacity he solicited and oversaw many books and publications on print music, recordings, manuals, and scholarly works. His own book Musical Environments: A Manual for Listening, Composing, originally published by Currency Press, has become a recognised text for secondary and tertiary music courses throughout Australia. In 2003, a new edition of this book entitled Sounds in Space Sounds in Time was published by Boosey and Hawkes, UK. Vella’s music is lyrically and rhythmically engaging. His music creates a sense of deja vu and irony in his blending of contemporary approaches and forms with styles that seemingly sound familiar. The results are sound worlds that are both timeless and rich in reference. Many of his works are now recognised as set repertoire such as his Tango, for clarinet, and the guitar solos Between Earth and Air and Mirrors of Fire. His film credits include Light Years, Parklands, Renzo Piano: piece by piece (for which he won the 1999 Australian Screen Composer’s Award for best music for a documentary) and Mr. Strehlow’s Films. His most recent feature film music score is Travelling Light (2003) for which he received the nomination ‘Best Music for a Feature Film’ by the Australian Film Institute. Recent works have been The A to Z of Spiritual Music: a user’s guide, commissioned by The Seymour Group (2006); his co-production of the Warners international release of the Ten Tenor’s album Larger than Life (2003) and a revised version of his music theatre work Tales of Love (2002).

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