Mark Holdsworth


Mark Holdsworth [BMus, BA (Hons), MMus] is an Australian composer and researcher currently based in Perth, Western Australia. Holdsworth is a graduate of the University of Western Australia’s Conservatorium of Music; he received first class honours for his Bachelor of Arts (2015) and was awarded the coveted Rupert Thackray Prize for Music Education,  he was also the recipient of a full Australian Postgraduate Award for his Master of Music (2018). Holdsworth studied primarily under renowned Australian composers James Ledger and Dr. Christopher Tonkin.

Holdsworth’s current projects include four new commissions for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra as part of the 2018-19 Australian Composers School, and 2 new commissions for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as part of Holdsworth’s appointment as the MSO Young Composer in Residence for 2019.

Composer website:

Featured Works

Bloodlust, for solo cello.

Bloodlust for solo cello, refers to the primal and instinctual urge to kill or cause harm. It’s about bacchanalian freedom and surrendering oneself to darker kinds of desire. The piece was conceived in terms of performative gesture and is consequently structured around bellicose physical gestures such as large aggressive bow strokes, sections of rapid snap pizzicato and rapid off the string passages.

The piece wrestles with dualities in a Nietzsche inspired struggle between the Dionysian and the Apollonian; mans inner struggle to reconcile emotion and carnality with rationality and logic.

Featured in Solo Waves – April 2016 (1/04/2016).

Hymn to Hermes, for flute, clarinet and percussion.

Hymn to Hermes is one of several character pieces that comprise ‘The Homeric Hymns’, a series of works for varied instrumentation, each based on a certain Olympian Deity.

In Greek mythology, Hermes was the Olympian god of boundaries and transitions. He was depicted as a capricious and astute character able to move freely between the mortal and divine worlds. Hermes was an emissary for the gods; a conciliator between the mortals and the divine. He was also charged with guiding souls into the afterlife.

Featured in the playlist Percussive Waves (April 2017)

Frida Kahlo Portraits, for String Quartet.

The Frida Kahlo Portraits for string quartet, commemorates the life and creative oeuvre of Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo. The work is comprised of five miniatures, each of which is a musical response to a specific self-portrait. Kahlo led an arduous life pervaded with copious adversities; her artwork reflects on these hardships as creative catharsis. The Frida Kahlo Portraits  musically emulates these themes, drawing particularly on the artists heavy use of symbolism and expressive intentionality.

Featured in Human Waves (October 2018)

Komm Du, for solo soprano, mixed choir and wind symphony.
Commissioned by Andrew Foote and the University of Western Australia’s School of Music.

‘Komm Du’ is based on the poem of the same name by Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke who produced the work in the final two weeks of his life before succumbing to cancer in December 1975. I have sought to reconcile notions of beauty and suffering, life and death, within this work. This aesthetic goal is something that I have fervently indulged for some time and is what ultimately brought me into contact with Rilke’s literary oeuvre. This concept often manifests musically as the interaction between tonality and atonality as well as other musical binary opposites. ‘Komm Du’ explores a vast range of sentiments to do with suffering and death and seeks to placate these notions with beauty in order to achieve resolution.

Featured in the playlist Vocal Waves II – August 2019.