Holly Harrison


Holly Harrison is a young Australian composer from the Blue Mountains, Sydney. Holly’s music is driven by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, embracing stylistic juxtapositions, the visceral energy of rock, and whimsical humour.

An awarding winning composer, Holly’s music has been performed in Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orkest de Ereprijs, Alarm Will Sound, The Riot Ensemble, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Minot Symphony Orchestra, Hwaum Chamber Orchestra, National Taiwan Normal University Orchestra, Jason Noble, and Antonietta Loffredo.

Holly recently completed a Doctorate of Creative Arts in Composition under the supervision of Bruce Crossman and John Encarnacao at the University of Western Sydney. She graduated from the Bachelor of Music program with the University Medal for outstanding academic achievement and was the recipient of an Australia Postgraduate Award.

Composer website:  http://www.hollyharrison.net

Featured Works

Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax, for large ensemble (piccolo, flute, B♭ clarinet, soprano/baritone saxophone, alto saxophone, C trumpet, horn in F, 2 tenor trombones, tuba, electric guitar, bass guitar, piano, and drum kit).

‘Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax’ takes its name from a line of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Walrus and the Carpenter’ poem, which first appeared in his nonsense book, ‘Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There’ (1871). The piece’s structure is inspired by the fragmented nature of Carroll’s Alice books; it is organised as a musical mosaic which experiments with stylistic juxtapositions, drawing from jazz, rock, funk, metal, and dance. I have explored ideas from the Alice books in previous pieces; like Carroll’s body of work, at times Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax indirectly quotes and refers to phrases (with a knowing wink!) from my earlier works ‘Cabbages and Kings’ (2014) and ‘Radishes and Strings’ (2014). – Composer

Featured in Playlist 3: Boundary-Crossing Waves (31/03/2015)

Tweedledrum, for percussion duo.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871), Tweedledrum sets the characters Tweedledum and Tweedledee against each other in a battle. Embracing the ideas of twins, mirror-image, and ‘same-same, but different’, the piece uses two distinct percussion set-ups. One percussionist plays a hybrid set-up of metal, wood and glass, and the other a hybrid drum kit, drawing on (or more commonly associated with) rock and jazz worlds. Despite the seeming differences between the set-ups, both physically and stylistically, Tweedledrum explores the similarities between them, as well as the double personalities present in each.

Featured in the playlist Moving Waves – June 2016 (1/06/2016)

And Whether Pigs Have Wings, for soprano and chamber orchestra.

And Whether Pigs Have Wings draws inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s poem ‘The Walrus and The Carpenter’, and is the third (and final) work in a series for Orkest de Ereprijs. The piece sees the walrus and carpenter take a walk along a briny beach in the middle of the night. They complain about the sand, and behave very badly and rudely towards a bunch of oysters (who haven’t any feet). The oysters are invited to lunch, and the walrus and carpenter end up eating every one. . . with butter and bread, and pepper and vinegar.

Featured in the playlist Percussive Waves (April 2017)

Cabbages and Kings, for mezzo-soprano and large ensemble (piccolo, flute, B♭ clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, B♭ trumpet, horn in F, 2 tenor trombones, tuba, electric guitar, bass guitar, piano, and drum kit).

Performed by orkest de ereprijs and Enikő Gősi, and conducted by Rob Vermeulen, at the 20th Young Composers Meeting, Apeldoorn, 2014. Awarded the ensemble ereprijs commission.

Featured in the playlist Mythical Waves (April 2018)


Holly Harrison was interviewed for the Making Conversation: Australian Composers’ Podcast, Episode 18, 16/10/16.