Oper a House per fect Covid bounce

• Mark Holdsworth’s heading to the Sydney Opera House.

FREMANTLE classical composer Mark Holdsworth has been given the ultimate tonic for the Covid blues – a debut gig at the Sydney Opera House.

Holdsworth was recently selected as part of Omega Ensemble’s CoLAB: Composer Accelerated Program, which entails a performance of one of his compositions at the iconic venue in November this year.

He says it’s every composers dream to have their work performed at the iconic venue. 

Along with four other early-career Australian composers, Holdsworth (31) was selected from thousands of applicants. 

The opera house gig and nine-month CoLAB program will be Holdsworth’s first chance to break out since the Covid outbreak. 

He says it was “really devastating” to see all his hard work and more than a decade’s worth of study and preparation “suddenly disappear” when the pandemic hit and live performances virtually vanished.

He wasn’t alone, but despite the general gloom across the arts sector, Holdsworth said he didn’t give in to the loss: 

“There’s not much point in that.” 

He began studying counselling at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle and is currently in his final semester. 

Holdsworth says he hopes to integrate the theories of loss and grief he learned in his degree into future composition.

During the CoLAB program, Holdsworth will be working under the mentorship of leading Australian composers Carl Vine, Gordon Kerry and Holly Harrison and US composers Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli and Christopher Cerrone. 

Holdsworth said he collaborated with Vine on his first professional development program with an Australian string quartet in 2010 and was inspired by his composing skills as well as his guidance and wisdom. 

He also has a huge appreciation for Nico Muhly and his work.

With Covid gradually easing, commissions are building up for Holdsworth, and he hopes the CoLAB program will help propel him back to his pre-pandemic levels.

Holdsworth says he has been signed to write a major new piece of music to premiere next year, though the details are still under wraps.


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