Interview: 2011 Freedman Fellowship Finalist Tom O’Halloran

We asked the Freedman Fellowship finalists to help us out with a little Q&A and this is Tom O’Halloran’s contribution.

Tom O’Halloran (piano/composer, Perth) leads his own original jazz piano trio, conducts orchestras, composes new classical music and plays wild old analogue synthesizers and even rock guitar. In 2009 he arranged all the music for JONI, a Joni Mitchell tribute performed at the Sydney Opera House and he also directed the sell out seasons of Hymne A Piaf in Sydney and Melbourne. He has performed both here and overseas and his groups have supported artists such as Harry Connick Jr and Natalie Cole.


What are they key features of the proposal you’ve submitted to the Freedman?

I’ve proposed a work for orchestra and soloists, in four interchangeable movements and by that I mean that their order is not fixed and the soloists may vary depending where the music is being played. I have visualised that the work would tour eventually, but at the moment I’m working towards a performance with the WA Symphony Orchestra (WASO) with Paul Grabowsky and myself as soloists, each of us soloing for two movements. I’ve proposed a piece that would work with two or four jazz soloists, on a range of instruments.

The WASO is keen to program the music and we’re working towards a possible performance in the 2013 season. I also hope to have other opportunities to workshop and perform it, with other orchestras and large ensembles.

How did this project come about?

I’ve just finished my Masters in Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of music. The final piece I wrote as part of the Masters was moving more into the direction of ‘new’ music; more textured and ‘serial’. This project is an extension of that and even though I’m playing with my trio at the finals concert (rather than with an orchestra!), this synthesis across genres is also showing through in the music I’ve been composing for the trio. I can’t seem to help it.

Who’s playing with you at the Freedman concert?

I’ll be doing the finals concert with my trio – Peter Jeavons on bass and Daniel Susnjar on drums. We’ve been playing with this trio for over ten years and we’ve been touring recently. I think it’s going to be a good concert!

What is the place of the Freedman Fellowship in the jazz award and performance landscape in Australia?

The Freedman Fellowship definitely has an important place in that it can facilitate and help players who are perhaps reflective of the wider arts scene. It’s different to other awards like the National Jazz Awards (held at Wangaratta Jazz Festival each year) because the Freedman also has its networks in classical music so it’s well positioned to include a range of improvised music on the edges of jazz.

Links for Tom O’Halloran

Tom O’Halloran on MySpace >>>>

Since 2001, the Freedman Music Fellowships have offered a unique opportunity for some of Australia’s most talented classical and jazz musicians. The prize for each Freedman Fellowship is $15,000 cash. The award includes consultations to assist with non-musical aspects of career-building, as well as active support from Music Council personnel during the Fellowship period. Fellows are asked to submit a proposal for a project and the finalists also pe rform at a concert, after which the fellowship is announced.

In 2011 finalists performed on Friday 8 July at the Studio at the Sydney Opera House. The finalists were Tom O’Halloran (piano/composer, Perth), Ben Vanderwal (drums, Perth/Melbourne), Evan Mannell (drums, Sydney), Matt Keegan (saxophone/composer/director, Sydney).