David Chesworth

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David Chesworth (born 1958, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom) is an Australian-based interdisciplinary artist and composer. Known for his experimental, and at times minimalist music, he has worked in post-punk groups, electronic music, contemporary ensembles, theatre, experimental opera. Together with Sonia Leber, Chesworth has created a series of large scale installation and video artworks. Exhibitions include Venice Biennale (2015), Sydney Biennale (2014).


David Chesworth's creative output includes music, sound art, video, installation and performance, often in collaboration with other artists. His compositions and installations have been featured in major festivals including Ars Electronica, Festival D'Automne de Paris, Edinburgh Festival, BAM's Next Wave Festival in New York, Bang on a Can Marathon, Sydney Biennale and the Venice Biennale. In 2012 he was artist in residence at the MONA Festival of Art and Music in Hobart which featured performances by the David Chesworth Ensemble and the showing of several of installation artworks made with collaborator Sonia Leber.

Chesworth's work explores ideas about site and the framing of events within broader cultural contexts. His simple musical surfaces often camouflage deeper explorations of relationships between performers, audiences and the artwork itself. His works often re-visit or re-imagine established cultural texts, both historical and within popular culture. His interest is in generating new meanings and perspectives from his source material.

Early in his career Chesworth coordinated the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre in Melbourne, a centre for experimental music, performance, film and video. He performed extensively during this time as a solo performer and with post-punk group Essendon Airport. He released several solo records including 50 Synthesizer Greats and Layer on Layer, and with the group Essendon Airport - Sonic Investigations of the Trivial and Palimpsest. All are now reissued on CD and vinyl.

Installations: Together with collaborator Sonia Leber, David Chesworth has created a series of public art and gallery installations including 5000 Calls, a permanent 'sonic environment' for the surrounds of the Sydney Olympic Stadium for the 2000 Olympics. Other Leber and Chesworth projects include The Master's Voice, a permanent sound installation for Canberra's Civic Walk and Rewards of Silence, a commission for the chapel of the Separate Prison at Port Arthur in Tasmania. They have created public domain installations in Ljubljana, Cardiff and New Zealand. Leber and Chesworth were the 2007 recipients of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art's Helen Macpherson Smith Commission for which they created the major installation work Almost Always Everywhere Apparent. Their solo exhibition, Space-Shifter has toured to several states and was recently featured at MONA FOMA in Tasmania.

Chesworth and Leber collaborated with Simeon Nelson on Proximities, a 2006 Commonwealth Games public sound-art commission for William Barak Bridge in Melbourne and Oceanic Endless for Melbourne's Cardinia Council in 2007. Dyad, a Leber/Chesworth/Nelson proposal was shortlisted for the 2012 London Olympic Park bridges commission.

Experimental Opera and Performance: Chesworth's interest in exploring wider extra-musical contexts has led to his involvement with performance artworks and experimental opera. His first experimental opera, Insatiable, was completed in 1986. Since then he has worked with Melbourne's Chamber Made Opera (Recital, The Two Executioners and Lacuna), and with the Melbourne International Arts Festival (Cosmonaut, commissioned by Opera Australia and Sabat Jesus). In 2010 Chesworth created the performance artwork Richter/Meinhof-Opera which was presented at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art for the 2010 Melbourne International Arts Festival and at the Art Gallery of NSW. The CD Wicked Voice containing material from various productions was released on ABC Classics.

David Chesworth Ensemble: Chesworth is the artistic director of, and synthesizer player in the David Chesworth Ensemble. The ensemble has released four CDs, Exotica Suite (ARIA nominated for 'Classical Release of the Year') Badlands (also released in the US), Music To See Through, and recently Vanishing Tekopia. Panopticon from Music To See Through was awarded Instrumental Work of the Year at the APRA Classical Music Awards. Three works from the CD were nominated. The ensemble has given numerous performances including the Melbourne Festival and the Sydney Spring Festival of New Music. The ensemble has made many international appearances including performances at BAM's Next Wave Festival, the Bang on a Can Marathon in New York, and the Kennedy Centre in Washington. The ensemble has also given performances in Slovenia, France and in the UK where they appeared at the Big Chill Festival.


He was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Chesworth's parents moved the family from Britain to Melbourne, Australia in the late 1960s. Chesworth studied at La Trobe University, including time with composer's Jeff Pressing, Warren Burt and Graham Hair. He lives in Melbourne in partnership with Sonia Leber. They are directors of the company Wax Sound Media and have one daughter.



  • 50 Synthesiser Greats! (as David Chesworth)
  • Layer on Layer (as David Chesworth)
  • Spiral Rebound (as David Chesworth)
  • No Particular Place (as David Chesworth)
  • Risky Business (as David Chesworth)
  • Wicked Voice (as David Chesworth)
  • The Unattended Serge 1978 / Five Evolutionary Things 1979 (as David Chesworth)
  • Sonic Investigations of the Trivial (with Essendon Airport)
  • Palimpsest (with Essendon Airport)
  • Skippy Knows (with Whadya Want?)
  • Exotica Suite (with The David Chesworth Ensemble)
  • Badlands (with The David Chesworth Ensemble)
  • Music To See Through (with The David Chesworth Ensemble)
  • Vanishing Tekopia (with The David Chesworth Ensemble)

EPs and Singles

  • Sonic Investigations of the Trivial (with Essendon Airport)
  • The Dave & Phil Duo (David Chesworth and Philip Brophy)
  • Talking To Cleopatra (with Essendon Airport)
  • Industry & Leisure (as David Chesworth)

Experimental Operatic works[edit]

  • 1986 Insatiable music & texts by Chesworth
  • 1988 Recital: music by Chesworth, Puccini, Mozart et al., text by Douglas Horton and Helen Noonan, produced by Chamber Made
  • 1992 Lacuna: music by Chesworth, text by Douglas Horton, produced by Chamber Made
  • 1994 The Two Executioners: music by Chesworth, text by Douglas Horton, produced by Chamber Made
  • 2001 The Light Room: opera devised with Company in Space
  • 2004 Cosmonaut: music by Chesworth, text by Tony MacGregor
  • 2010 Richter/Meinhof-Opera: music and text by Chesworth, after a libretto by Tony MacGregor.

Art Installations[edit]

Collaborations with Sonia Leber include

  • 5000 Calls (2000 - ongoing) Sydney Olympic Stadium
  • The Masters Voice (2001 - 2011) The Walk Civic, Canberra
  • The Persuaders (2003) Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne
  • Proximities (2006 - ongoing) at the William Barak Bridge, Melbourne
  • Almost Always Everywhere Apparent (2007) Helen Macpherson Smith Commission Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne
  • Space-Shifter (2009) Conical, Melbourne
  • We Are Printer's Too (2012) Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  • This Is Before We Disappear From View (2014) Biennale of Sydney
  • Zaum Tractor (2013) 56th Venice Biennale.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Prix Ars Electronica. Honorable Mention awarded to Southgate, Chesworth's score for the opening ceremony of Southgate, Melbourne, 1991.
  • Churchill Fellowship. In 1997 Chesworth was awarded a travel fellowship to the US, France and UK to investigate new audio technologies.
  • ATOM Awards (Australian Teachers of Media). Chesworth's TV opera Insatiable won most innovative film.
  • ARIA Awards (Aust. Record Industry Assoc.). The David Chesworth Ensemble CD Exotica Suite was nominated for the 1994 Best Classical CD ARIA Award.
  • Green Room Awards. Chesworth's music for the play Life After George received a 2000 Green Room award.
  • The Age Performing Arts Award. Awarded to Chesworth/Horton opera The Two Executioners
  • The Myer Group Arts Award. Awarded to the Chesworth/Horton opera Lacuna

APRA Classical Music Awards[edit]

The APRA Classical Music Awards are presented annually by Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and Australian Music Centre (AMC).[1]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2006 "Floating World" (David Chesworth) – David Chesworth Ensemble Instrumental Work of the Year[2] Nominated
"Panopticon" (David Chesworth) – David Chesworth Ensemble Instrumental Work of the Year[3] Won
"Wait a While" (David Chesworth) – David Chesworth Ensemble Instrumental Work of the Year[2] Nominated


  1. ^ "Classical Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Archived from the original on 25 May 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  2. ^ a b "2006 Finalists - Classical Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  3. ^ "2006 Winners - Classical Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 6 May 2010.

External links[edit]