Australian musical legends: Jennifer Fowler

Jennifer Fowler

In this post we explore the music of West Australian composer, Jennifer Fowler. Her output includes orchestral works, wind music, chamber music, pieces for voice and instrumental ensemble, solo music, and choir and vocal ensembles of various kinds. Her pieces have been performed and broadcast all over the world.

Jennifer Fowler was one of the first musicians Wendy visited in London.  Jennifer had moved to the city back in 1968 after work at the Electronic Music Studios of the University of Utrecht where she established a fine reputation as a composer receiving numerous awards and prizes for her work.

When asked to describe her own musical vision, Jennifer replied:

‘My aim is to convey a sense of direction in music, which is guided by a kind of logic: an evolving logic in which one cannot foresee the next step, since there are many possibilities open, yet which will have a sound of inevitability when it arrives. I like to build-in a bias which allows change while retaining inner consistency. One needs to stimulate the imagination, step off the known paths, see a vision. Then one can communicate the sense of excitement!’

Wendy asked Jennifer whether there were there any compositions that held a special place in her catalogue of works?

I am particularly pleased with And Ever Shall Be (1989). This was a BBC commission consisting of four songs on traditional texts for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble lasting 23 mins. Lament for Dunblane (1996) is another favourite vocal work of 8-9 minutes duration for SSATB (solo voices or chamber choir) of which there is a lovely performance by The Song Company of Sydney on my website. 

In 1973, the ABC commissioned an 8 minute piano score for the opening of the Sydney Opera House and more recently, the University of Western Australia commissioned Three Cellos (2012) to celebrate its centenary which has been recorded by Sophie Curtis, Clare Tunney and Noeleen Wright on the CD Luminosity.


1970 – Academy of the Arts in Berlin

1971 – Joint winner of the Radcliffe Award of Great Britain

1975 – 1st prize in the International Competition for Women Composers in Mannheim

2003 – Miriam Gideon prize from the International Association of Women in Music

2006 – 2nd prize in the Christopher Bodman Memorial Competition

2009 – Winner of the international Sylvia Glickman Memorial Prize

2009 – Equal winner of Marin Goleminov First International Composition Contest, Bulgaria

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