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Music Artist in Residence welcomes unexpected, beautiful outcomes through improvisation

15 Mar 2016

Melbourne Polytechnic is pleased to announce that Simon Charles is Artist in Residence for the Bachelor of Music Program for Semester One.

The Artist in Residence program gives students the opportunity to work with the luminaries of the Australian music industry, and to collaborate on a major project.

Dr Adam Starr, Lecturer in Melbourne Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Music, believes that immersion in a working relationship with an established professional provides valuable learning opportunities for students.

“Students not only learn valuable skills and new perspectives from experienced musicians, but also learn the subtle skills required in the collaborative process,” says Dr Starr.

“We are excited to have Simon on board this semester, to compose a series of works to be performed and recorded by students enrolled in the Bachelor of Music degree.” 

Simon Charles is a well-respected Australian composer and improvisor, whose work typically explores Just Intonation and intersections between electro-acoustic media and performance. 

About this project, Simon writes:

"I’m planning to compose series of pieces that use a combination of conventional notation, text and audio scores. By ‘audio scores‘, I mean sound files that are given to performers with an instruction as to how these are to be realised on an instrument. 

“For me, this raises questions about the transaction between composer and performer, as this method removes conventions through which these two roles communicate. It raises further questions about how we listen; the ways we frame sounds musical context when these conventions are removed.

“I’m interested in developing methods that encourage unexpected outcomes; that are beautiful in ways that I couldn't anticipate exactly, or notate precisely. I like being in performance situations where there's a feeling that anything's possible, and where the music brings you experience new situations."    

Simon has composed work for orchestras, including the Arcko Symphonic Project, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, as part of the Cybec, 21st Century Composers’ program. His work Atropos was premiered by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2012. 

He has also composed works for Speak Percussion, Lizzy Welsh, Peter de Jager, Ryan Williams, Matthew Horsley, Callum G’Froerer, Aviva Endean, Sarah Curro and Kim Tan, which have been performed at the Melbourne Recital Centre, the ANAM Quarttethaus, Next Wave Festival and This is Not Art Festival.

In 2014 he was commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts to compose Crepuscule, a work for baroque violin, recorder, harpsichord and electronics. The work explores notions of the decay and dissolution of musical syntax, through granular synthesis and tuning systems based in Just Intonation and was premiered as part of the MCM New Music Studio (Melbourne University).

Solo performances often use sine tones and reel-to-reel tapes to explore tuning systems developed through Just Intonation. This work documented in Just Sine Tones, undertaken through Punctum Arts’ Seedpod Residency program. His work in electro-acoustic improvisation is documented in Melpomene, by Footsoldiers (duo with Alisdair McIndoe), released through Ivory Tower Records.

An active member of Melbourne’s vibrant experimental music scene, has performed regularly at venues and events such as the Make It Up Club, Conduit Arts and the Footscray Community Arts Centre, with notable improvisors, including Jim Denley, the Phonetic Orchestra, Warren Burt, Jenny Barnes, Matthias Shack-Arnott and Ros Bandt.

He has also worked in an interdisciplinary capacity in many dance, theatre and hybrid performance productions, including SUPERTONE by choreographer, Rennie McDougall (for the Next Wave Festival, 2012) and several works with performance poet, Jessica Wilkinson (marionette and Suite for Percy).

He has received several award for composition, including the Marion Isabel Thomas Prize (VCA), the Zavod Composition Award and the Rogowski Prize (Melbourne University). He has also undertaken artist residencies at Bundanon and at Montsalvat, where he was sponsored by the Montsalvat Trust. In 2005 and 2016 he was the young Australian Delegate and the Asian Composers’ League festival and conference for contemporary music.


Media enquiries should be directed to Melbourne Polytechnic Communications Officer, Anita Coia, on 03 9269 1251 or

Melbourne Polytechnic operates across six campuses and five specialist training centres throughout Melbourne. The institute delivers high quality vocational and higher education in industry-standard facilities.