Holly Harrison: Swoop


Commissioned as part of the ‘ASQ Encore’ project with funds received from Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund, and made possible with thanks to generous support form the Thyne Reid Foundation.

Performed by the Australian String Quartet, 2020
Dale Barltrop – Violin I
Francesca Hiew – Violin II
Stephen King – Viola
Sharon Grigoryan – Cello 

Composed by Holly Harrison, 2020
Produced by Jakub Gaudasinski
Recording Engineer Tom Henry
Mixed & Mastered by Jakub Gaudasinski

Recorded at ABC Adelaide, South Australia, Kaurna Country, October 2020

Artwork – Jim Tsinganos Illustration
Art Direction – Cul-de-Sac Creative
Angelina Zucco – ASQ Chief Executive
Sophie Emery ASQ Operations Manager

Special thanks to Holly Harrison for her valued support of this release.


Swoop is loosely inspired by two of my current interests: bluegrass music and a family of crows who nest outside my home. The piece makes high use of scooped notes, glissandi, and rapid descending patterns which (to my mind, at least) share comparison with the swooping motion of birds and the deflating sound of the crow call.

I’ve become rather fond of the crow family, and watching from my window has become part of my composing ritual over the last couple of months. Sudden shrieks and caws are often confused with my neighbour’s baby! The work quite literally swoops and sweeps in different directions throughout, before holding down a sustained groove.

Holly Harrison, 2020


Holly Harrison is a young Australian composer from Western Sydney. Holly’s music is driven by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, embracing stylistic juxtapositions, the visceral energy of rock, and whimsical humour. She is the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s composer in residence across 2020-2022. Her music has been described as “exploding off the page”, full of “riotous energy, eclectic rhythmic complexity” and “inventive, witty and invested with thrilling dynamism and momentum”.

Holly’s music has been performed in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA.  2022 sees premieres from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian String Quartet, James Crabb and the Goldner Quartet, Australia Ensemble, Alicia Crossley and Josh Hill, Goldmund Quartet, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Holly is a mentor for Omega Ensemble’s 2022 CoLAB program for pre-professional composers and is a tutor for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s 2022 Australian Composers’ School.

Holly has worked with the Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmanian, Canberra, West Australian, and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Australian Youth Orchestra and Monash Academy Orchestra. Her music has been performed by a range of Australian artists including Ensemble Offspring, Omega Ensemble, Rubiks Collective, Adelaide Wind Orchestra, Riley Lee and Enigma Quartet, Kiazma Piano Duo, and soloists Matthew Kneale and Lloyd Van’t Hoff. Internationally, she has collaborated with Eighth Blackbird, Alarm Will Sound, Nu Deco Ensemble, Riot Ensemble, Orkest de Ereprijs, Het Gelders Orkest, Ensemble Garage, and Catchfire Collective. Recently, her work has expanded to include orchestral arrangements for Australian songwriters Tim Minchin and Monique Brumby.

Recent highlights include the trumpet concerto Hellbent for Owen Morris and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Johannes Fritzsch, and the announcement of Splinter as a finalist in the Work of the Year: Large Ensemble category of the 2021 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards. Commissioned by an American college consortium, the work will receive many airings in 2022, featuring on CBDNA conferences in Maryland (Eastern Division), South Carolina (Southern Division) and Washington (Western/Northwestern Division). Other highlights include the Australian Youth Orchestra touring Frumious internationally in 2019, and writing the rock-inspired Balderdash as the set string quartet work for the 2018 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. Holly’s Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup featured on Eighth Blackbird’s (USA) Australian tour as part of Musica Viva’s 2017 International Concert Season. Eighth Blackbird’s performance was later awarded Performance of the Year at the 2018 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards. Lobster Tales has since been heard across the USA, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden.

Holly is the recipient of numerous awards. She was the inaugural winner of the 2017 Sue W Chamber Music Composition Prize, awarded to an Australian female composer, and was a winner of Nu Deco Ensemble’s 2018 Nu Works Initiative. She was awarded first place at the 2014 Young Composers Meeting in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, chaired by Louis Andriessen, and was the winner of the 2013 Pyeongchon Arts Hall International Chamber Music Composition Competition (South Korea). She was a resident composer at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival (USA) with Alarm Will Sound, and was one of two winners of The Riot Ensemble’s (UK) 2014 Call for Scores.

Her works have been performed at festivals including the String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam (NL), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (NL), November Music (NL), LA Phil’s Noon to Midnight (USA), Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (USA), Sound of Sweden (SWE), Now Hear This Festival (CAN), Asian Composers’ League Festival (TWN), Coriole Music Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Adelaide Festival, Canberra International Music Festival, Four Winds Festival, and Port Fairy Spring Music Festival.

Holly teaches composition at The King’s School and Caroline Chisholm College, and casually at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She was previously composer in residence at MLC School, Burwood NSW. She has presented workshops and seminars at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Monash University, University of Wollongong, New England Conservatorium, ASME NSW Composition Day, Australian Music Day, and a diverse collection of schools, including Wenona School, Shore School, Mercy Catholic College, Xavier College, and Prairiewood Highschool. Holly completed a Doctor of Creative Arts at Western Sydney University with Bruce Crossman and John Encarnacao, where she worked for several years as a sessional lecturer, co-ordinating performance and composition units.

Holly also plays drum kit and percussion in the improvised rock duo Tabua-Harrison with Joey Tabua (electric guitar). Their debut record Scout is available on Psychopyjama.  

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