'A major talent ... someone capable of breaking genuinely new ground and getting things to grow in it.' The Australian
Born in Perth Western Australia in 1954, Carl Vine read Physics and later Music at the University of Western Australia (studying piano with Stephen Dornan and composition with John Exton). Moving to Sydney in 1975 he worked as a freelance pianist and composer with a wide variety of ensembles and dance companies and was resident composer at the Sydney Dance Company (1978) and the London Contemporary Dance Theatre (1979). He has written 25 scores for dance to date, including Poppy a 90-minute work for Graeme Murphy’s celebrated ballet on Jean Cocteau. In 1979 he co-founded the award-winning contemporary music ensemble Flederman.
After an initial enthusiasm for the music of avant-garde (Stockhausen and Carter were major influences) and a time lecturing in electronic music composition at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane (1980 to 1982), in the mid-1980s Vine began to seek a novel way of writing. Vine’s refreshed style, as it emerged, was just as rigorous as that which preceded it; complex rhythms are built into rich, kinetic textures and set alongside an austere lyricism which is even more moving in its restraint.
Vine’s most acclaimed works include Mythologia, First Piano Sonata and his Choral Symphony (No. 6). Vine enjoys particularly close partnerships with the Goldner String Quartet and The Australian Chamber Orchestra. Other high-profile commissions include Ring out, Wild Bells – a generous and rhythmically vital setting of Tennyson premiered by in 2012 the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge as part of their Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.
A skilled pianist himself, Vine has created a body of piano music which occupies a considerable place in the contemporary repertoire through its scintillating command of sonority and space as well as its versatility and wit. His refreshingly direct Second Piano Concerto, commissioned by the Sydney Symphony and London Philharmonic Orchestras, premiered in 2012.
Vine’s extensive discography is an impressive catalogue of the many world-renowned advocates who have made Vine’s music their own. These include: the London Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding (Descent), Steven Isserlis (Inner World), the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sharon Bezaly (the flute concerto Pipe Dreams) and the Takács Quartet (String Quartet No. 4). The Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s recordings of Vine’s first six symphonies are available on the ABC Classics label and much of his chamber music is surveyed on three discs from Tall Poppies Records.
Vine was Artistic Director of both Musica Viva Australia (2000–20), and the Huntington Estate Music Festival (2006–2019). In 2005 he was awarded the Don Banks Award for outstanding contribution to Australian Music – the highest accolade the Australian Council can offer a musician. Appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Vine lives in Sydney where since 2014 he has been Senior Lecturer in Composition at the Conservatorium of Music.
Recent works include a Trombone Concerto ‘Five Hallucinations’ for the Chicago and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, and an Eighth Symphony, written as the culmination of his time as 2018 Composer in Residence with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.