Connor D’Netto (b. 1994) is a composer of contemporary classical music, described as “the model contemporary Australian composer” by ABC Classic FM.
Throughout his works, Connor balances driving rhythmic elements, heartfelt lyrical expression drawn from his extensive performance experience as a classically trained bass baritone, and a lushly textural approach to orchestration, combined with contemporary performance practices, unique one-off concerts and performances, and the delicate incorporation of electronic music elements. Connor’s music has been commissioned and performed across Australia and abroad, including from ensembles such the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian String Quartet, New York based
groups including Bang On A Can and the Mivos Quartet, and performers such as Katie Noonan, Karin Schaupp and Claire Edwardes.
In 2019, Connor was announced as the Composer-In-Residence of the 2019 Australian Festival of Chamber Music, making him the youngest in the Festival’s 29-year history. Under the direction of acclaimed pianist and AFCM Artistic Director Kathryn Stott, the Festival will feature five of Connor’s works, included the Goldner String Quartet giving the world-premiere of his String Quartet No. 3, which was co-commissioned by the Festival. Connor has also held residencies and fellowships with the prolific New York new-music collective Bang On A Can in 2017, with his music featured at their annual Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, and with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2016.
In 2015, Connor was named winner of Chamber Music Australia’s Australian New Works Award, with his winning work, String Quartet No. 2 in E minor, becoming the set work in the finals of the 7th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition at the Melbourne Recital Centre. He has also been awarded an APRA Art Music Fund Award 2018, the Brisbane City Council’s Lord Mayor’s Young and Emerging Artists Fellowship 2018, a Brisbane Arts and Cultural Innovation Award 2017, the Percy Brier Memorial Composition Prize 2016, and the Donald Tugby Musicology Prize and Scholarship 2015.
Connor is the artistic director, producer, and co-founder of the Brisbane-based contemporary classical concert series “Argo”. Founded in 2015, Argo creates immersive experiences bending the boundaries of artform, fostering creative collaborations between artists of various mediums. In 2018, Connor was nominated and shortlisted as a finalist in the APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards in the “Excellence by and Individual” category for his artistic direction of Argo throughout it’s 2017 Concert Season.
As a performer, Connor is one half of “We Are Breathing” alongside American cellist Ben Baker. After the pair met in July 2017 when both were artists-in-residence at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, they sought to collaborate on a project bringing together their various musical backgrounds spanning classical, folk and electronic music, their love of diverse musical styles from minimalism, electronica, alt-rock and jazz, and their drive to create art that breaks down the barriers between genres and audiences. The result is a new music duo creating raw, tender and emotional sounds straddling across musical worlds. With Ben on cello and Connor on synths and live electronics, their music fuses Connor’s unique compositional voice and Ben’s virtuosic playing with live signal processing and electronics creating complexly layered experiences. In 2018 We Are Breathing undertook their debut tour in Australia with four shows along the east coast, including a performance in the line up of City Recital Hall’s new all day new-music festival Extended Play.
Connor is a trained classical bass, performing throughout Australia. He is also a talented photographer, videographer and visual-artist, creating and shooting not only material for his music, but also for a number of other artists and musicians.
Currently Connor is based in London where is he studying his Masters of Music at the Royal College of Music. He is a Tait Trust Scholar at the Royal College of Music, and his studies are further supported by the Australian Music Foundation Award, the Tait Performing Arts Association, a Churchie Foundation Scholarship, and by the Big Give Campaign at RCM. Connor has a Bachelor of Music (Honours), graduating with First-Class Honours in 2016 from the University of Queensland.
Composer website: www.connordnetto.com
3 Adoxographies, for solo piano.
(n.) beautiful writing on a subject of little or no importance
To be precise, it is a modern word, which describes an ancient method to train the art of rhetoric. This method is described by Anthony Munday, in an English translation of an Italian book, The Defence of Contraries 1593, whereas the noun is first used in The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman Empire 1909 by Terrot Glover. However the adjective adoxographical preceded it, used in the American Journal of Philology in 1903.
[from the modern Latin adoxus paradoxical or absurd derived from the Greek root doxa opinion or belief, and the French suffix -graphie writing or field of study]
Featured in Playlist 7: Eclectic Waves, 31/7/2015
String Quartet No. 2 in Eminor, for string quartet.
When approaching this work, I found myself drawn to more measured means of composition. Whereas in most of my works find themselves created out of loose structures and planning, with ease and freedom for spontaneous changes, here I became entranced by a numeric approach, measuring out the entire work to the bar and relating the shape and structure of the form, as well as tempo changes, to a predetermined ratio. Here, slowly evolving rhythmic figures give way from one section to the next, connecting seemingly adjunct elements across the space of the work. Sparse repetitive textures melt into soulful melodies, while aggressing pulsating is able to emerge across the distance.
Featured in the playlist: Small Ensemble Waves (1/3/2016)
Summer / Summer for solo saxophone, two voices, and ensemble.
“Outside Warm breeze, soft grass, sun It’s strangely quiet, the heavy air The birds are calling somewhere else Mother says close the windows before the rain but, the smell of it – How could I? Outside the clouds are Soft, white, gentle Looking down on worlds below From crowded spaces Passing by The humming, dizzying, sleepless – A million pieces of black glass Peaking into other places Inside a small, well furnished room Overlooking crowded streets Warm tones, busy, bright The distant din of social lives Unread books and paper piled high – The room is rarely occupied Father says make sure you rest But, there – So much to see Outside Verdant, expansive fields It’s perfectly quiet, for once Feeling time, it moves too fast Slipping past With every breath Outside the clouds are Flat, endless, grey A backdrop to the worlds below The sunsets aren’t quite as vivid Peaking into crowded spaces A bird is singing – Calling somewhere else Inside A small unfurnished room Yet to be filled with books and papers The humming, sleepless din silenced Mother asks how is the weather – It’s raining softly”
Texture No. 1, for Orchestra.
Texture No. 1 is the first in what I hope to be an ongoing series of works for orchestra, each an exploration of a single texture. Dense, vague, murky, voluminous; Layer upon layer of pattern, each obscuring the other; Unfolding, evolving, being shaped throughout.
Featured in Orchestral Waves (November 2018)
String Quartet No. 1 in D minor.
As you can imagine, being my earliest work (or at least the earliest I still allow to see the light of day), my compositional style has changed considerably since this quartet. But I still love it. Similarly, the way I’ve thought about the work has changed a number of times – finished as three movement work, but feeling it needed a fourth, intending, attempting, and failing to write it, and eventually coming up with a new solution.October 2014:In my first String Quartet, I was coming from a couple of different angles. The first was to write something short and do it quickly. That didn’t really happen. The second was to take some old things and make them new (old ideas of mine, old techniques) and some new things and make the old. Well, fairly new; at least ideas and techniques that are often new, intimidating or unfamiliar and using them to build more familiar structures. For example, taking a serial technique, such as a tone-row, and using it to build quasi-functional progressions, or alternatively, using formal shapes and structure which become buried amidst the mess.I think it works, don’t you?At times, I think it would work better with another movement. Maybe between the first and second.Yes, I think I’ll do that.Maybe later.(I think/hope I’ve grown a lot since back then…)February 2015:I thought I’d attempt writing the second movement in time for the upcoming performance at Paint it Red 9.I didn’t get very far.My style has changed so much since then, and pretending to write the way I used to . . .It sounded . . . well . . .Next time.February 2016:I have a solution: a new work, using some of the original ideas and themes, but not attempting to recreate my old style. It can be performed as a standalone work, or played in place of the missing movement.The result:Movement to, (I know, what a clever name!)
Featured in the playlist String Quartet Waves (March 2019)
Connor D’Netto was interviewed for the Making Conversation: Australian Composers’ Podcast, Episode 9, 08/06/16.