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Australian Art Orchestra announces new Artistic Director

BY Australian Art Orchestra | 07-Jan-2013
The Australian Art Orchestra is delighted to announce that trumpeter, composer and arts advocate Dr Peter Knight has taken the role of Artistic Director, taking over an 18-year reign by Paul Grabowsky.

The decision came out of a rigorous selection process, requiring formal expressions of interest and involving a selection panel made up of AAO orchestra members, AAO Board members, an independent panelist and a facilitator / chair. The process was welcomed by everyone involved. ‘We had to be thorough, and follow guidelines that respected the applicants while ensuring we found just the right person to take the Orchestra to the next stage,’ affirms AAO (Joan Spiller, Chair) Knight, who has won international acclaim for his often ‘uncategorisable’ sound and his inventive approach to music making, brings a strong track record in the realm of creative improvised music to the role. His music has won a number of awards, most recently his Fish Boast of Fishing CD, which took the 2012 Bell award for most original jazz album. Outgoing Artistic Director Paul Grabowsky is excited about Knight’s engagement. Both Knight and Grabowsky admire each others’ music, and Knight is thrilled to be part of a new phase for the Orchestra.

Grabowsky says: We had a very strong selection of applicants and I am delighted that Peter made it through. He has a strong vision and an inspiring drive to guide the Art Orchestra in this next phase. We are all very excited to see where he will take us and I very much look forward to working with him. The Art Orchestra will always have an important place in my life and I will continue with the specific projects that I have driven, such as Crossing Roper Bar, a collaboration with songmen from South East Arnhem Land and Shapeshifter, a collaboration with Monash University. Knight says: As AD I envision my role as a harnesser of energies and creativity – as someone who will support all the things that are great about the AAO now, while also offering new perspectives.

In my view the Australian Art Orchestra is one of the most vital musical organisations this country has produced. Its formation transformed the Australian musical landscape and it remains a critical locus of energy and ideas. The prospect of continuing the vision of Paul Grabowsky is exciting and I am looking forward to working towards developing the AAO as an increasingly important focus for progressive music not only in Australia but also in the Asian region more broadly. I am also deeply committed to the notion that an organisation like the AAO can and should have at the heart of its mission the objective of building community.

Making and sharing music is above all about people and I am excited about the ways that the AAO can nurture the next generations of improvisers, composers and artists working across multiple disciplines. Developing new audiences is of course crucial as well and I see this happening through ambitious large-scale works and tours as well as engagement on a grass roots level.