Richard Mills (composer)
Richard John Mills AM, DMus BA(Hons) Qld, (born 14 November 1949) is an Australian conductor and composer. He is currently the Artistic Director of Victorian Opera, and formerly Artistic Director of the West Australian Opera and Artistic Consultant with Orchestra Victoria. He was commissioned by the Victorian State Opera to write his opera Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1996) and by Opera Australia to write the opera Batavia (2001).
Mills was born and grew up in Toowoomba, Queensland, and went to Nudgee College in Brisbane. He studied in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and worked as a percussionist in England and for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Mills started conducting and composing in the 1980s.
In 1988, to celebrate the Australian Bicentenary, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) commissioned Mills to re-orchestrate Charles Williams's Majestic Fanfare, the signature tune of ABC news and television broadcasts, in a more modern, Australian idiom.
He was engaged to conduct Opera Australia's first complete production of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen in the State Theatre, Melbourne, in 2013, the bicentenary of the composer's birth. On 5 June 2013, he withdrew from the Opera Australia Ring cycle.
He won the Albert H. Maggs Composition Award in 1982.
He received the Green Room Award in 2001 and 2002, and the Helpmann Award in 2002 for his opera Batavia, in 2006 for his conducting of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, and in 2007 for Best Musical Direction of his opera The Love of the Nightingale. He also received the Ian Potter Foundation Award for Established Composers.
Mills was Musica Viva Australia's feature composer for 2008.
Works for the stage
- Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (1987), Ballet
- Earth Poem / Sky Poem (1993), a music theatre work for Aboriginal dancers and musicians, orchestra and electronic sounds
- Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1996), opera in two acts, libretto by Peter Goldsworthy after the play by Ray Lawler
- Batavia (2001), opera in three acts, libretto by Peter Goldsworthy
- The Love of the Nightingale (2007), opera in two acts, libretto by Timberlake Wertenbaker
Vocal and choral works
- Festival Folk Songs (1985) for mezzo-soprano, tenor, boy soprano, large mixed chorus, children's chorus, 2 brass choirs (optional) and orchestra
- Sappho Monologues (1991) for soprano and orchestra, texts after Sappho, edited by the composer
- Symphonic Poems (2001), setting of David Campbell and James McAuley poems for soprano, mezzo-soprano, bass, large mixed chorus, 3 brass bands
- The Little Mermaid (2005) for children's chorus, narrator, orchestra; text after Hans Christian Andersen
- Four Antiphons of the Blessed Virgin (2 September 2005, at the Ospedaletto, Venice) for tenor and organ
- Songlines of the Heart's Desire (2007), commissioned by the Ian Potter Trust, to poems by an anonymous fourth-century Chinese poet, Bengali Rabindranath Tagore, American Kenneth Patchen, French Tunisian Amina Said, and Australians John Shaw Neilson and Judith Wright.
- Trumpet Concerto (1982) for trumpet and orchestra (written for Bruce Lamont)
- Soundscapes for Percussion and Orchestra (1983) for percussion solo and orchestra
- Fantastic Pantomimes (1987) for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trumpet and orchestra
- Cello Concerto (1990) for cello and orchestra (written for Raphael Wallfisch)
- Flute Concerto (1990) for flute and orchestra (written for James Galway)
- Violin Concerto (1992) for violin and orchestra
- Concerto for Violin and Viola (1993) for violin and viola solo and chamber orchestra (written for and premiered by Dene Olding and Irena Morozova)
- Double Concerto (2002) for violin and clarinet (written for Walter and Elsa Verdehr from Michigan State University)
- Sonata for Brass Quintet (1985)
- String Quartet No. 1 (1990)
- Four Miniatures (1992) for violin, clarinet and piano
- Here where death and life are met (no year) for high voice and piano, text by Judith Wright
- Requiem Diptych for Brass Quintet (1997)
- Songs without Words (1998) from the poems of Ern Malley for oboe and string quartet
- Jamaican Entertainment (2002) arrangements of music by Arthur Benjamin for flute, clarinet, soprano and piano, see: Two Jamaican Pieces).
- A Little Diary (2002) for clarinet and string quartet
- Woman to Man (2004) song cycle for mezzo-soprano and piano, text by Judith Wright
- String Quartet Nr. 2 (2007)
- Impromptu, after Schubert (2014)
- Little Suite for Orchestra (1983) for student orchestra
- Miniatures and Refrains (1986) for student string quartet
- Sonatina for String Quartet (1986) for student string quartet
Awards and nominations
- 2009 Orchestral Work of the Year win for Tivoli Dances and nomination for Palm Court Suite both composed by Graeme Koehne and performed by Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Mills.
- "Australian Honours". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 23 October 2007.
- "Senate Meeting Summary". University of Queensland. 10 October 2002. Retrieved 23 October 2007.
- "In for the long haul" by Matthew Westwood, The Australian (26 March 2011)
- Musica Viva Concerts 2008 Program for Cheryl Barker, Peter Coleman-Wright and Piers Lane
- "Winners – Classical Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Composer's home page
- Biography at Australian Music Centre
- Summer of the Seventeenth Doll synopsis in Opera~Opera
- Bruce Martin's reflections on creating the role of Francisco Pelsaert in Batavia (March 2006, Opera~Opera)