Lachlan Skipworth


The music of Lachlan Skipworth combines a sense of open space and stillness of his native Australia with the colour and yearning of honkyoku, ancient solo pieces for the Japanese shakuhachi. After studying this repertoire intensely for 3 years in Japan, Skipworth returned home to hone and refine his experience into a highly personal musical language, working closely with his principal teacher Anne Boyd.

Skipworth has since composed works that display the sensitivity of his craft across many genres. Light Rain (2009) sets the shakuhachi itself amongst a string quartet to depict raindrops falling gently on water. The work has gone on to receive performances across Australia, Japan, and the USA. Dark Nebulae (2011), for Saxophone Quartet depicts the colossal rumblings of deep space by layering rich multiphonics to create thick churning clouds of sound mass. The work received a nomination for an APRA Art Music Award and has been performed in France, Switzerland, the USA, as well as major cities in Australia. Afterglow (2012) was performed in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Metropolis Series conducted by Thomas Ades. His recent Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (2014) was premiered by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra with soloist Ashley William Smith and conductor Baldur Brönnimann. In April 2015 his new Piano Trio will be premiered at the Musica Viva Festival in Sydney. The work takes inspiration from the traditional shakuhachi piece Daha in its juxtaposition of striking waves and calm quietude of the sea.

Composer website:


Light Rain, for shakuhachi and string trio:

“Light Rain begins with sustained tones in the shakuhachi which are passed to natural harmonics in the strings, creating a luminous surface texture. Like rain drops on a calm pond, subtle agitations from the shakuhachi begin to create ripples and shimmering colours in the accompaniment. The shakuhachi part incorporates ornamental figures and pitch slides found in traditional shakuhachi honkyoku music, and ma, a Japanese concept of relative space, has been used to decide the time between each gesture. The piece is dedicated to my teacher, Anne Boyd, with whom I share a deep appreciation of Japanese traditional music.”

Featured in Playlist 1: Chamber Waves (30/1/15)