Barry Conyngham

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Barry Conyngham
Born Barry Ernest Conyngham
(1944-08-27) 27 August 1944 (age 71)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Alma mater University of Sydney
University of California, San Diego
Occupation Australian composer, academic

Emeritus Professor Barry Ernest Conyngham, AM, (born 27 August 1944) is an Australian composer and academic. He has over seventy published works and over thirty recordings featuring his compositions, and his works have been premiered or performed in Australia, Japan, North and South America, the United Kingdom and Europe.[1] His output is largely for orchestra, ensemble or dramatic forces.[2] He is an Emeritus Professor of both the University of Wollongong and Southern Cross University.[3] He is currently Dean of the Faculty of the VCA and Music at the University of Melbourne.


Conyngham was born in Sydney. He was initially interested in jazz,[4] and studied with Raymond Hanson[2] and Richard Meale[5] but turned his attention to orchestral writing in the mid-1960s with encouragement from Peter Sculthorpe. He completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney in 1967, and a Master of Arts (Hons.)[3] at the same university in 1971. In 1970 he visited Japan on a Churchill Fellowship,[4] where he studied with Toru Takemitsu.[2] This was unusual, as Australian composers typically chose Europe and Britain as their location for further study.

In 1972 he went to the United States on a Harkness Fellowship[6] and gained a Certificate of Post-Doctoral Studies from the University of California, San Diego in 1973. He was a Fellow of Princeton University 1973–74, and Composer-in-Residence at the University of Aix-Marseille in 1974–75. He was a Lecturer at the University of Melbourne from 1975 to 1979, then Senior Lecturer 1975–79. He was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Minnesota, was a Senior Fulbright Fellow in 1982,[3] and that year gained a Doctorate in Music from the University of Melbourne. He became Professor and Head of the School of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong 1989–94. He was the Foundation Vice-Chancellor of Southern Cross University 1994–2000, based in Lismore, New South Wales.[7]

He was the first musician to hold the Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University (2000–2001).[1][7][8]

In 1978, he won the Albert H. Maggs Composition Award (he won it again in 2008). In 1997, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), "for service to music as a composer and to music education and administration".[9]

In 2000, Barry Conyngham was invited to give the 2nd Annual Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address for the Sydney Spring Festival.[8]

In 2003, he was given a commission by the Ian Potter Music Commission Fellowship.[10][11]

Conyngham has been involved with a number of arts organisations, including the World Music Council, Opera Australia, the Australian Music Centre and the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation.[1] He has also been chairman of the Music Board of the Australia Council.[4]

After retiring from academic life to concentrate on composition and music performance,[8] on 22 December 2010 he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of the VCA and Music at the University of Melbourne.




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Academic offices
New title Vice-Chancellor of Southern Cross University
1994 – 2000
Succeeded by
Paul Clark