How did I get started as an Australian composer?

I’ve always been interested in new work, much of my career as a performer was premiering new works in the contemporary classical groups that I was a member of. I’ve always been fascinated at all the ways sound can be put together. I’ve always improvised as a performer, and it seemed to me that composition was also an extension of my improvisation practice.

In my sabbatical year studying Performance and Communications Skills at the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD) it seemed natural for me to begin a more extended interest in composing. My weekly compositions sessions with my wonderful teacher Malcolm Singer at the GSMD were totally mind expanding. I soaked it all up like an ever-expanding sponge.

Australian Composer Margery Smith at work!

At the time that I was beginning my journey as a composer, one trend emerging was the model of a group where members were performer/composers. As in a jazz or pop band, the members had a shared stake in artistic outcomes. My long-standing membership of Continuum Sax quartet was a rewarding relationship. We developed our musical vocabulary together, each member providing artistic leadership in his or her own style. We collaborated on some wonderful projects together, and of course this was a great vehicle for me to create unique work for our concerts.

I love the journey of composing, its something I will always do, thinking about music, structure, sound is part of my makeup. When I undertake a project, I always like to know those I’m composing for. That is a great source of inspiration for me.

I love how composing music helps me to understand a deeper interpretation of a piece that I’m working on myself or with a student. I begin to understand the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how a work is put together. I love to explore the many possibilities of ways music may be performed, being able to take a macro view of a piece of music.

I’m interested in all kinds of music, and would love to be able to compose in any style that fits the occasion – but that is a very big learning journey. Many artists from Stravinsky, John Adams and Ligeti to Björk and Laurie Anderson influence my inspiration as a composer. 

Learn more about Margery Smith here

Learn more about Margery’s Music Composition Lessons here

Looking for a Modern Australian Composer?

Contact me if you would like to purchase any of my compositions or would like to discuss a new commission, composed especially for you.

Contact Margery

Listen to my compositions on Soundcloud HERE.

Humanity Washed Ashore – Composed by Margery Smith

My solo bass clarinet work, Humanity Washed Ashore was performed as part of a residency at Articulate Art Space in March 2017. The idea of the residency was to create sound work that was paired with visual art.

My long time colleague clarinettist Ros Dunlop serendipitously paired Humanity Washed Ashore with ‘Paradise’, an extraordinary paper sculpture by Penelope Lee and Nathalie Hartog-Gautier. Although our works were created in separate space and time, it seemed that they were meant to be together. You can view an accompanying video titled Paradise Lost as well as listen to Ros Dunlop’s beautiful performance here:

Sculpture: ‘Paradise’ by Penelope Lee and Nathalie Hartog-Gautier
Music: “Humanity Washed Ashore” for Solo Bass Clarinet
Composer: Margery Smith
Performer: Ros Dunlop

Composer Margery Smith with Artist Penelope Lee in front of “Paradise” sculpture

Solo and Chamber Works

  • Poppy Re-imagined (2016) for Clarinet in Bb, Cello & Piano
  • Humanity Washed Ashore (2016) for Solo Bass Clarinet
    Commissioned by Ros Dunlop
  • Fly Away (2016) for Flute, Clarinet in Bb & SATB Sax Quartet
    Commissioned by Hourglass Ensemble
  • Reflections (2015) for Flute & Piano
    Commissioned by James Kortum
  • White Shadows (2015) for Baritone Voice, Flute, Violin, Clarinet/Bass clarinet & Piano
    Commissioned by Hourglass Ensemble
  • Ocean Hum (2008/14) for Soprano, Flute & piano
    Commissioned by Grevillea Ensemble
  • Beetrap (2012) for Solo Saxophone
  • Lost Blues (2011) for Sax Quartet & 2 Percussionists
    For Continuum Sax and Match Percussion
  • The Musarithmetic Ark (2011) for Trumpet, Alto Saxophone and Piano – Available from Kookaburra Music
    (The Musarithmetic Ark was written for TrolCa (The wonderful trio resident at Ithaca College USA-Kim Dunnick, Steven Mauk & Diane Birr) and it was first performed at the 2010 International Trumpet Guild conference in Sydney)
  • A Species of Fire for Solo Recorder (S-A-T) (2008) – Published by Moeck (Edition Moeck Nr. 1615)
    Commissioned by Hans-Deiter Michatz
  • Tundra for Sax Quartet (2000) – Published by Reedmusic 
    In review: ‘Smith … writes about sonority in her program notes, and it’s true that the timbres of Tundra are striking, but it’s Smith’s ear for harmony that I find most impressive.’  From Review of Continuum CD, 24 Hours Magazine (Oct 2002).
  • Aurora for Sax/Clarinet or Bass Clarinet and Tape (2002) – Available from Margery Smith
  • Sonata for Solo Flute (2001) – Available from Reedmusic
    Commissioned by James Kortum –
  • T(F)ree Radicals for 3 Bass clarinet’s and CD (2002) – Available from Margery Smith
    Commissioned by TouchBass with funding from the Australia Council
  • Poppy for Viola and Cello (2000) – Available from Margery Smith.
    Commissioned by Deborah Lander

Orchestral & Ensemble Works

  • Red for Sax Quartet and 2 Percussionists (2010) – Available from Margery Smith
  • A Sonic Colour Book (2010) (Oboe, Bb Clarinet, Bassoon, Bb Trumpet, Trombone, 2  Percussionists)
    Commissioned by Sydney Grammar School for their Recent Music Ensemble
  • Borderlands (2008) for Mixed Ensembles
    Commissioned by Brisbane Powerhouse Re-Strung Festivalfor the 6-Pack Project
  • Inferno Remix for Sax Quartet & Electric Violin (2008) – Available from Margery Smith
  • Free Radicals for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (2002) – Available from the Australian Music Centre
  • Partials in Ice (2003) for Orchestra – Available from the Australian Music Centre
    Completed as part of Symphony Australia’s Composer Development Program
  • Inferno for Clarinet & Chamber Ensemble (2006) – Available from Margery Smith.
    Inferno was commissioned by David Rowden, artistic director of the Sydney Omega Ensemble with funding from the Australia Council.
    Inferno in review: ‘Dramatic, then eerie, then transcendent, Smith’s music speaks with a humanity easily apprehended…’ David Vance, Sydney Morning Herald, October 17 2006.

Works for young players

The following works are available from Margery Smith.

Please contact me for price and postage. Pdf versions are also available.

  • Pulse Train for String Orchestra (advanced)
  • Creepy Crawley for String Orchestra and optional solo part (beginner)
  • Alaric for String Orchestra (intermediate)
  • Superhero for Wind Octet and Ghetto Blaster
  • Superhero for Sax Ensemble and Ghetto Blaster (SS,AA,T,T,B)
  • Alaric II for Viola & Piano. (AMEB Grade 4 list)
Margery is an Australian Composer, who loves writing music for large and small ensembles.

Contact me if you would like to purchase any of my compositions or would like to discuss a new commission composed especially for you.

Contact Margery