Ofer Ben-Amots

Born in Haifa, Israel, in 1955, Ofer Ben-Amots gave his first piano concert at age nine and at age sixteen was awarded first prize in the Chet Piano Competition. Later, following compositionsStudies with Joseph Dorfman at Tel Aviv University, he was invited to study at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland. There he studied with Pierre Wismer and privately with Alberto Ginastera.

​Ben-Amots is an alumnus of the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany, where he studied with Martin C. Redel and Dietrich Manicke and graduated with degrees in composition, music theory, and piano.

Upon his arrival in the United States in 1987, Ben-Amots studied with George Crumb at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his Ph.D. in music composition. Currently Chair of the Music Department at Colorado College, Dr. Ben-Amots teaches composition, music theory, and a wide variety of liberal arts subjects.

Ofer Ben-Amots’ compositions are performed regularly in concert halls and festivals worldwide. His music has been performed by such orchestras as the Zürich Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, the Austrian Radio Orchestra, Bruckner Orchestra, Moscow Camerata, Heidelberg, Erfurt, Brandenburg, the Filarmonici di Sicili, Milano Chamber Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, North/South Consonance in NY, Portland Chamber Orchestra, and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic among others. His compositions have been professionally recorded by the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, the Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Barcelona Symphony, Odessa Philharmonic, the BBC Singers, and the renowned Czech choirs Permonik and Jitro. Ben-Amots has received commissions and grants from the MacArthur Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, Amado Foundation, Schleswig-Holstein Musikfestival, Fuji International Music Festival in Japan, Delta Ensemble from Amsterdam, Assisi Musiche Festival, the Geneva Camerata and many others.

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Jan Jirásek

Jan Jirásek studied composition with Professor Zdenek Zouhar at the Janáček Academy of Musical Art in the Czech Republic.  Jirásek’s work has been represented at numerous venues and festivals throughout the world since 1989, including Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center in New York, the Avignon Festival in France, the Sydney Opera House and the Prague Spring Festival.  

He has composed music for distinguished performers and stages, such as Bread and Circuses for six percussionists (Munich Biennale, 1992), recomposition of St. Luke’s Passion according to J.S. Bach’s manuscript, and Carl Orff’s concept (Munich Biennale, 1996; Minneapolis, USA, 2000), Concerto for Organ and Small Orchestra To Dance with the Universe (Portland Chamber Orchestra, 2012), Missa propria (for mixed choir or boys’ choir/women’s choir or children’s choir, Prague Spring Festival, 1994 and 2014; Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, New York and Avignon Festival in France, among others), string quartet Fragile Balance/Letter to Heaven (Vega String Quartet, Atlanta, 2012), micro-opera King Lávra (Khorikos New York, 2013) and others. 

His film music has won a number of prestigious awards: in the Czech Republic, his scores for films by the Czech director F.A. Brabec, Kytice (‘The Bouquet’), and the distinguished Slovak director Juraj Jakubisko’s Nejasná zpráva o konci světa (‘An Ambiguous Report about the End of the World’) have each been awarded the Czech Lion prize. In the sleevenote to the album Renaissance of Humanity, which includes music by Hildegard von Bingen, Jirásek, and Arvo Pärt (BMG Classics 1995), Samuel Hendricks wrote: “Jirásek’s subtle, superb arrangements give clear expression to his musical ideas which, like those of any honest artist, are concerned not with the mask of art but the face behind it.”

Jan Jirásek also devotes his time to teaching. He has taught composition at prestigious universities in Europe (Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Vienna; ISAM, Ochsenhausen, Germany and many others), as well as in the United States (Hartt School of Music, Connecticut; Colorado College; Florida International University; Lehigh University, Pennsylvania; University of Colorado at Boulder).

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Rob Melbourne

Rob Melbourne is not only an emerging composer but a seasoned survivor of ISAM.  He has travelled twice to Germany to participate in the 2017 and 2018 ISAM workshops and worked under the tutelage of  both Ofer and Jan to compose new works. Having loved it so much and wanting to share the magical experience of ISAM with local composers he has arranged for the Academy to visit Australia.

Melbourne, while participating in both ISAMs, entered the Joseph Dorfman International Composition Competition. In 2017 he came second with his piano trio Four Attempts at Reconciliation and in 2018 won first place with his piano quartet Beyond the Gate. More importantly, Melbourne has created relationships with emerging composers across the globe as well as professional performers throughout Europe.

Having recently graduated from the University of New England as Vice Chancellor’s Scholar, Melbourne also won the Cecil Hill Award and the Cath Ellis Prize. While studying at Berklee College he won the Michel Camilo Celebrity Scholarship for his compositional studies. He has studied composition with Paul Smith, Donna Hewitt and Marti Epstein. As a pianist he has had masterclasses with famous Australian composers Nigel Butterly and Peter Sculthorpe, and has performed their piano works extensively in his concerts.

Melbourne and Smith recently had their two Chamber opera’s performed as part of the Parramatta Lanes Festival in Sydney and will be producing them for the Noosa Alive Festival in July 2019.

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Paul Smith

Paul Smith is a lecturer in music at the University of New England where he teaches composition and music theory. He holds a Doctorate of Creative Arts from Western Sydney University where his research focused on music’s connection with visual art forms, specifically Japanese anime. Originally from the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Paul studied piano and classical voice while completing a Bachelor of music at Western Sydney University. In 2011, he was a young artist with Pacific Opera and began working with many Sydney ensembles as a singer before completing his doctorate in composition in 2014.

Many of Paul’s compositions explore music’s potential connection with other art forms and as a result his pieces are often accompanied by other works of art, including animation, theatre or poetry. He also specialises in composing opera and is the co-artistic director for Sydney-based group Blush Opera. His works for theatre include the chamber operas Fancy Me Dead, first performed as part of the New Music Network Mini Series in 2015, and The Spider Maiden and the Runaway Plum Blossom, commissioned by Chamber Sounds and premiered in Singapore in 2016. He also composed and performed a piano score for a collaborative theatre work, Frankenstein, at the Q in Penrith in October, 2016. He is currently composing a new work in development – Chop Chef: The Opera – with librettist Julie Koh, workshopped throughout 2017.

Paul’s instrumental compositions include numerous pieces for keyboard. He has collaborated regularly with Italian pianist and toy pianist, Antonietta Lofreddo, who has performed his work in Australia and Italy. She has released his pieces on three albums with Wirripang. She most recently performed the piece Holding Masks at the Associazione Carducci in Como in May 2017.